Alphabet Soup: Relocation Acronym Glossary

Connie Bullock, Director, Marketing

Alphabet Soup: Relocation Acronym Glossary

Do you know the difference between a BVO and an AVS? What is the APR on an ARM? Do you have your CRP or GMS? If you’re new to the relocation industry or focused on one specialty area, all these acronyms may seem like alphabet soup to you. Every industry has buzzwords and acronyms—and the relocation industry is no exception. So, while the following list of acronyms certainly isn’t all-inclusive, it can help you start “talking the talk” in the relocation industry.





Area median income

A method for determining income eligibility for various housing programs. AMI is calculated every year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for every county and metropolitan area.


Annual percentage rate

A term used in the Truth-in-Lending Act to represent the percentage relationship of the total finance charge to the amount of the loan. The APR reflects the cost of the mortgage loan as a yearly rate. It often is higher than the interest rate stated because it includes loan discount points and fees and mortgage insurance.


Adjustable rate mortgage

A type of mortgage where the interest rate varies based on a particular index, normally the prime lending rate.


Amended value sale

A guaranteed offer is made to the employee; however, before the employee accepts the offer, an outside buyer makes an offer to the employee for a higher price. The guaranteed offer price is amended to the price offered by the outside buyer.


Bill of lading

The original shipping contract between the mover and the customer that lists the dates, services, and actual charges involved in a move. It also serves as the receipt for a shipper’s belongings.


Broker market analysis

An Worldwide ERC® developed form to standardize the use by real estate brokers and agents. The BMA includes a written market analysis on recent comparable sales, marketing strategies, suggested list prices, and the most likely sales price.


Broker price opinion

A written market analysis on recent comparable sales and listings with suggestions for marketing strategies. Interchangeable with BMA.


Buyer value option

No appraisals are ordered, and the value of the home is established when an outside buyer makes an offer. When an offer is received, a relocation company purchases the home from the employee and, in a second transaction, sells the home to the outside buyer.


Cash on delivery

A household goods shipment where the customer pays the moving charges at the time of delivery, rather than a direct bill to the corporate client.


Cost-of-living allowance

An allowance intended to assist an employee who is moving to a higher cost-of-living area to cover those higher expenses for a given period of time.

C of O

Certificate of occupancy

An inspection of property and fee often required by the local governmental authority at the time of resale or passing of title. It can include plumbing, heating, electrical, and structural inspections. This certificate ensures that local, county, or state code requirements have been met.


Continental United States

A term used by government to denote moves where both the current and new locations are defined as being within the continental United States. CONUS includes only the 48 contiguous states, not Alaska and Hawaii.


Certified Relocation Professional™

This designation is earned through the Worldwide ERC® by relocation professionals who have demonstrated a solid base of relocation principles. Recipients of this designation must obtain continuous education to maintain the designation.



A freight shipping term used to denote “per 100 pounds” of specified weight. It always is qualified as the type of weight involved, e.g., gross, net, gross chargeable, or dimensional.


Department of Transportation

The federal agency which, through the Surface Transportation Board within the DOT, governs the interstate transportation industry, including movers of household goods.



Often used within the relocation industry and online systems to denote the transferring employee.


Estimated time of departure

The estimated day the driver will leave the origin with the shipment or the estimated date that a vessel is to depart from a seaport/airport.


Estimated time of arrival

The estimated time the shipment will be delivered or arrive at port of entry.


Do it yourself

A move where the employee personally assumes the responsibility for carriage of personal effects to the new location. This term is most commonly used by government agencies.


Full buy out

Provides a guaranteed offer to purchase the employee’s home. The employee’s home is appraised and a guaranteed offer is made to the employee to purchase the home. If the employee accepts the offer, the relocation company purchases the home from the employee at the offer price. The employee has no further responsibility for the home. The relocation company carries the home in inventory. In a separate transaction, the home is sold to an outside buyer.


Federal Housing Administration

A government agency whose main activity is insuring residential housing loans made by private lenders. It sets standards for building construction and underwriting requirements. FHA does not lend money or construct housing.


Federal Insurance Contributions Act

The combination of Social Security (OASDI) and Medicare tax rates. This term is often used to reference just the Social Security portion of the tax rate.


Fair market value

The value of a property determined by an independent appraisal, based on comparable sales in the area. 


Federal National Mortgage Association

More commonly known as “Fannie Mae,” it is a corporation created by Congress to support the secondary mortgage market. It purchases and sells residential mortgages insured by the FHA or guaranteed by VA, as well as conventional home mortgages. FNMA sets the standards for underwriting residential mortgages.


Full replacement value

The amount of money it will cost to purchase a new replacement for an item damaged during a household goods shipment, regardless of how old the damaged item was.


Guaranteed buyout

Same as FBO.


Global Mobility Specialist™

A designation offered by Worldwide ERC® to allow relocation professionals to gain an understanding of global workforce mobility issues. To obtain the designation, participants must attend training and pass an exam.


Household goods

Refers to the shipment of the transferring employee’s personal belongings.


Housing and Urban Development

The Federal agency that monitors the compliance of federal acquisition and relocation regulations.



The ratio used to compare the amount owed on a mortgaged property to its fair market value.


Miscellaneous expense allowance

Generally covers expense items not specifically covered within the relocation policy, such as driver and automobile license fees, utility deposits, and cleaning services. Also referred to as incidental allowance, intangible allowance, or transfer allowance.


Mortgage interest differential

Payment of some or all of the difference between the interest rate on the employee’s mortgage in the origin location and the rate on their mortgage in the new location. Payments are generally made for a limited time period.


Mortgage insurance premium

Paid monthly by the borrower to HUD to set up a reserve account for protection of the lender against loss in the government-insured loans or to a private mortgage insurer for conventional loans. The MIP is a percent of the loan amount and is amortized over the entire mortgage life and added to the interest rate.


Multiple Listing Service

An arrangement among real estate boards or exchange members in which each broker brings listings to the attention of the other members. If a sale results, the commission is divided between the broker bringing the listing and the broker making the sale, with a small percentage going to the board.


Outside Continental United States

Any move that terminates or originates in a non-CONUS duty station.


Packed by owner

Occurs when articles are packed for moving by the customer rather than by the van line.


Permanent change of station

These orders transfer a military service member from one duty station to another, and constitute the basis and authority for a household goods shipment.


Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance

The most common components of a monthly mortgage payment.


Private mortgage insurance

Insurance on a conventional mortgage loan written by a private company protecting the lender against loss in case of mortgage default. Typically, this insurance is required only on lower down payment loans with a loan to value ratio in excess of 80% of value.


Privately-owned vehicle

Frequently used in government to refer to the transferring employee’s personal automobile.


Request for information

A corporation typically issues a RFI to relocation service providers to obtain general information on the provider’s company and services offered. Usually sent prior to issuing a formal request for proposal (RFP).


Request for proposal

Issued to relocation service providers by a corporation and asks a series of questions to determine expertise, capabilities, recommendations for services, and pricing.


Request for quote

A corporation typically issues a RFQ when it is seeking only relocation pricing information or requires a quote for a specific move or service.


Relocation income tax allowance

This calculation determines the difference between the payroll withholding (WTA) paid throughout the tax year and a hypothetical calculation of the transferred employee’s actual tax liability due when filing IRS Form 1040.


Relocation management company

Companies that deliver relocation services, including buying and selling homes for corporations on a contractual basis. Also known as national home purchase companies or third-party companies.


Senior Certified Relocation Professional

Those who go above and beyond the CRP® designation may receive the Senior CRP® designation.


Storage in transit

The temporary storage of the customer’s household goods in the van line warehouse, pending further transportation at a later date.


Veterans Administration

An agency of the federal government that guarantees a portion of each VA mortgage for qualified veterans of the United Stated Armed Forces. A VA mortgage is a loan available only to qualified veterans and service personnel, according to their entitlement, which is guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration.


Worldwide ERC®

The relocation industry’s global association created to provide guidance, training, and networking opportunities to relocation professionals.


Withholding tax allowance

Payment of withholding taxes on a pay-period basis by a corporation or government agency. A minimum amount of tax must be withheld from the gross employee payment(s) using supplemental tax rates during each pay period that an employee receives taxable payments.


This blog post has been created based on an article that originally appeared in Mobility Magazine.