Companies are spending more on employee relocation and moving fewer employees, according to Prudential Relocation Management's study of corporate mobility policies among major U.S. corporations.

A survey of 609 companies ranked among the 1,000 largest in the United States by Fortune magazine revealed that the average cost of relocating an employee was $40,500 in 1989, up 11 percent from $33,300 in 1988, Prudential said.

Finding it difficult to move employees to areas where the cost of living is high, 36 percent of the firms offered cost-of-living differential allowances, up from 34 percent in 1988 and 29 percent in 1987. On the average, companies transferred 178 employees in 1989, down 12 percent from 203 in 1988.

Prudential said companies offering job-search assistance to spouses dropped from 32 percent in 1988 to 26 percent in 1989.

District of Columbia developer Oliver Carr Jr. is spearheading a new program aimed at assisting low-income families in the District who may be on the verge of losing their homes.

Carr said the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness will focus on the needs of individuals and families who are at risk of becoming homeless.

"We want to help potentially healthy people who can be put back on the track," he said.

The organization has an annual budget of $400,000 and will work with D.C. neighborhood organizations to establish satellite programs. Half of the funding is provided by the D.C. government and that amount is matched by city businessmen.

A study by the partnership has found that the problems of families losing their homes are particularly acute in the Anacostia and Congress Heights areas of Southeast Washington.

The 30-story Commerce Place office project will be the first Baltimore project financed with funds from the Far East, the project's developer says.

Leonard Harland, head of Harland Co. and a partner in the development team behind the 30-story office tower, said a major Japanese bank has agreed to finance the entire construction cost.

Harlan declined to identify the bank, but said it became involved in the 450,000-square-foot project through Kajima Development Corp., Harlan's partner in Commerce Place. Kajima is the U.S. subsidiary of Kajima Corp., one of Japan's largest construction firms.

"Even our bankers in New York say we're lucky," he said. "In New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Hawaii, the Japanese have been providing construction funds for the past couple of years. But outside the major cities, this is one of the first."

Developers have proposed construction of 1,042 homes on 400 acres just south of Boonsboro in Washington County, Md., a community destined to become one of Washington's newest outer suburbs.

Three developers from Silver Spring in a partnership called King Road Associates submitted preliminary plans of the project to the Washington County Planning Commission. The developers are to meet with county planners next Friday.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. Kauffman Jr. said the developers have approached the town council about possible annexation of the property, which would allow water and sewer lines to be extended to the lots.

Privately owned housing completions rose 1.1 percent in March to an annual rate of 1.37 million from 1.36 million in February, the government has reported.

March housing completions were 5.6 percent below their March 1989 level, according to a joint release of the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During the first three months of the year, 298,100 housing units were completed, down 7.8 percent from 323,300 units in the same year-earlier period. The figures were adjusted to take into account seasonal factors such as the weather.

The March rate of single-family housing completions was 1.03 million, down 1.9 percent from February's revised rate of 1.05 million units. The March rate for multifamily housing units was 347,000, up 11.2 percent from 312,000 units in February.

Housing completions dropped in the Northeast, to 165,000 units in March from 187,000 units in February, and in the Midwest, to 232,000 units in March from 270,000 units in February.

In contrast, the number of new privately owned housing units rose in the South, to 597,000 units in March from 528,000 units in February, and in the West, to 379,000 units in March from 373,000 in February.

At the end of March, the seasonally adjusted estimate of housing units under construction was 891,000. Of these, 571,000 units were single-family structures, and 320,000 were multifamily structures, the government agencies said.

IN THE BUSINESS ... Before choosing a remodeler, consumers should investigate contractors, said the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, which has published a checklist for use in picking contractors. Consumers should check out how long the company has been in business, make sure it has the proper state licensing and check with the local Better Business Bureau or consumer affairs agency about unresolved complaints, the association said ... Montgomery College plans to open a technical institute for training in the construction trades called the Institute for Technical Education. The Montgomery County government offered to match private industry grants for construction of the $6.8 million facility ... April home sales in Prince George's County totaled 722, down 22 percent from 935 in April 1989, the Prince George's County Association of Realtors reported. The average price of residential sales was $122,300, up 8.7 percent from $112,500 last April ... The Howard County Association of Realtors reported sales of 277 units during the month of April, up 30 percent from 212 units in April 1989. The average price was $177,393 ... Hazel/Peterson Cos. and Fairfax County plan to build a new segment of Braddock Road Extended at a shared cost of $5 million. Hazel/Peterson also plans to build and provide the $5.2 million financing for a new segment of Union Mill Road ... Heidenberger Construction Inc. completed construction of Vortech Data Inc.'s Reston headquarters. The company also completed construction of the new corporate headquarters of the Life Underwriters Training Council in Bethesda ... The National Institute of Building Sciences released a new edition of the Construction Criteria Base, a computerized specifications system, on compact disc ... The volume of primary insurance written on newly originated one- to four-family conventional mortgage loans totaled $2.8 billion in March, up 7.8 percent from $2.6 billion in March 1989, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported ... Rubloff Real Estate and Capital Inc., in a joint venture with ORIX Corp., a Tokyo-based finance company, plans to begin construction in July of the City Center development at 1401 H St. NW, a 12-story, 350,000-square-foot office building ... The American Bankers Association plans to hold a conference for bankers on community development lending, June 20-22 at the Ramada Renaissance Techworld ... Georgetown University Law Center's Continuing Education Division plans to hold a program on commercial real estate development in the D.C. metropolitan market on Monday from 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel; the cost is $225 ... Thulman Eastern Corp., an Ellicott City-based building supplier, plans to open a distribution center in Upper Marlboro ... Signet Trust Co., a subsidiary of Signet Banking Corp. of Richmond, established a tax-exempt, commingled real estate fund named the Development Property Trust.

PERSONNEL FILE ... Lancaster Landscapes Inc. promoted C. Brent Mayberry to chief operating officer and vice president in a corporate restructuring ... Long & Foster named two vice presidents: Brenda B. Shipplett and Roger Applegate ... The Apartment and Office Building Association named Margaret O'Shea Jeffers executive director ... The Charles E. Smith Cos. named Kurt Wolter vice president of development.