HR’s Guide to Offering Home Buying Assistance

If the past few years are indicative, there is increasing demand for holistic wellness benefits that include more than the standard dental, vision, and medical coverage. 2016 saw the rise of health and wellness benefits, 2017 saw a focus on mental wellness, and now employees want even more comprehensive and personalized perks.

Where do companies go from here? One newly popular perk—home buying assistance—might be just the thing to give employers a leg up in both hiring and talent retention. Home buying assistance taps into another segment of wellness and addresses a different employee milestone, purchasing a home. For many employees, buying a home is one of the biggest goals they’ll tackle with their hard-earned dollars, but according to Bloomberg, just 3 percent of companies offer to help their employees with down payments—making it a ripe area for employers to show support.

The Benefits of Home Buying Assistance

Whether you’re just starting to form your benefits package or your offering is already a lengthy list, here are four reasons home buying assistance may be worth offering:

1. Productivity. Traditional house hunting is time consuming. Even when most of the work is done after work hours, the extensive process can bleed into regular working hours. Employees will feel the lift of company support and be better equipped to focus on their work responsibilities.

2. Retention. Buying a home is an emotional process and being an active participant in making that milestone occur for your employees and their families will naturally increase their loyalty to their employer.

3. Satisfaction. Studies have shown that home ownership has a positive social impact on an individual’s surroundings and sense of investment. Making ownership more affordable gives employees a greater chance to live near work and reduce commute times, therefore increasing satisfaction alongside retention.

4. Recruiting. 66 percent of millennials report that they would take a new job with a company that provided better perks. In fact, many young workers do want to own homes, they just can’t afford it. This creates an opportunity for employers to support that effort.

How to Get Started

What form should home buying assistance take? As an employer, you can help employees both financially and by providing access to the right information—all with an aim of increasing happiness and decreasing stress. Be it a stipend toward a down payment, reduced broker fees, in-office educational sessions, or a dedicated home buying concierge, even the smallest gesture can make a huge impact for first-time buyers navigating the confusing process.

Here are five steps to help you get started.

1. Partner with a local real estate brokerage that is willing to support your employees.

2. Negotiate discounts on closing costs for employees that buy a home through that brokerage.

3. Invite professionals to lead informational home buying sessions to help educate employees on where to start their home search.

4. Partner with a local mortgage lender to personally service your employees and to provide a discount on their services.

5. Follow up. Make sure employees know they can come to you with questions at any time as they pursue this benefit.

In a landscape where ping pong tables and vending machines no longer make a company stand out, employers are doing what they can to build a compelling employer brand. Offering comprehensive benefits shows employees you care about who they are both inside and outside of work.

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