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Any realtor/broker that refers to themselves as "full service" will have a relocation department. What does that mean to you? It may mean a lot, if you find yourself making a move in or out of town.

Relocation is more than just moving people from one house to another. It's working with individuals, human resource directors, corporations and their employees to fulfill not only their housing needs in a new area, but to duplicate their lifestyle in that new location. Relocation entails matching services with people; people who have very individual needs.

A realtor's "Relo" department is similar to a chamber of commerce. They are a pool of resource information on schools, health and special care facilities, recreational and cultural activities, child care, elder care, and other professional services.

A relocation professional will assess the needs of their clients and put them in touch with other specialists such as: legal counsel, immigration specialists, C.P.A.s, family and career counselors, banks, mortgage lending institutions, appraisers, van lines, and travel reservationists.

Incoming and outgoing referrals are a major part of the action in the "good" relocation departments. Referral coordinators match agents and brokers in new areas with clients moving into or out of town, to make the move a smooth process.

In the case of an assigned sale or a third party relocation, property managers in "relo" are in charge of maintaining the vacant homes of transferees until new owners take possession or the property is sold.

And for those transferees who are in need of long or short term housing, on a temporary basis, the relocation department will secure rental property to meet the needs of those clients and their families. Most relocation departments work with a number of landlords to address such needs.

When you know you will be relocating, choosing a realtor/broker to work with is a very important decision. It can mean the difference between a smooth move and a difficult one. Meet with the relocation director, make certain you are comfortable with this person and that they fully understand your individual needs.

Ask questions about how your situation would be handled, because each one is different. Check on the services offered by the department, services like: broker to broker and third party networks for referrals, property management capabilities, career and spousal counseling, immigration, and area tours.

The emphasis in relocation in the '90s is on service and detail. The professionals in relocation are there to take the legwork and worry out of the moving process so you can attend to other matters.

Isabel Robitaille is director of relocation services for Stovroff and Herman Realtors, Inc.

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