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Careers

Relocating on the Boss's Dime

Employers help you sell your house to get you to move.

Neal Levy's family lived the good life in Savannah, Ga., in a cottage on a barrier island where they enjoyed boating with friends. Then came Levy's promotion to district manager for a large pharmaceutical company, followed by a request that he move to Atlanta just as the Savannah housing market was starting to sputter. "If I'd had to do it all on my own, I wouldn't have made the move to the big city," says Levy.

But he didn't do it alone. His employer helped -- and in a big way. Companies squeezed between a tight labor market and unforgiving housing markets are starting to up the ante to keep their workforce mobile. Levy's employer gave him a stipend up front to help him with expenses, and a three-year subsidy to compensate for Atlanta's higher cost of living. It also put money toward lowering the interest rate on his new mortgage. When the Savannah house languished unsold, the company agreed to buy it.

Levy's good fortune is a nationwide trend. Perks start with marketing help to sell your old house, ranging from paint and new carpet to help with brokerage commissions and closing costs. Some companies will offer a bonus -- say, 2% of the sales price -- if you close the sale within six months. Companies may step up perks by buying your home at its appraised value, or by reimbursing you if you sell at a loss, up to a cap. Employees, in turn, may be asked to use a recommended agent and to list their home for close to its appraised value.