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Offer Relocation Assistance in Down Housing Market

Physician Compensation & Recruitment, April 30, 2009

The housing market continues to make physician recruitment more difficult. And some organizations are increasing their signing bonuses to help with housing.

In the AMGA and Cejka Search 2008 Physician Retention Survey, 96% of respondents indicated they offer relocation assistance to physician recruits. Approximately 53% offer an average of $10,000–$15,000 to relocate a physician, while 26% spend within the range of $7,500–$9,900. The most common types of assistance were covering moving company and transportation expenses. It breaks down as follows:

  • Moving company expenses: 92%
  • Transportation expenses: 66%
  • Realtor fees: 10%
  • Other: 8%
  • Low-cost home loan: 6%
  • Housing subsidy: 4%

Other tactics under consideration include:

Temporary housing. Some organizations have bought houses (often at foreclosure prices) to provide temporary housing for newly recruited physicians who are trying to sell their houses.

Loans. Some facilities provide home loans to physicians. According to the AMGA/Cejka survey, about 6% do. What's more common—and more prudent—is for hospitals to coordinate with existing lenders. But this is all new territory and things may change depending on the economy, says Fredrick T. Horton, president and CEO of Horton, Smith & Associates in Overland Park, KS. He says he is seeing some systems help with bridge loan underwriting; it's still rare, but he expects to see more in the coming months.

Working with relocation companies. Some clients are referring the physician to relocation companies that may be able to assist in marketing the home. The practice is becoming increasingly common, Horton says.

One tactic that hasn't emerged is purchasing the physician's house, says William Scott Hurst, MBA, principal marketing consultant at Dallas-based Delta Physician Placement. When Hurst first looked into this issue last year, he heard "rumblings" about that approach. But organizations soon realized "it doesn't do them much good to buy a home in a different state," he says.


This article was adapted from one that originally ran in the April 2009 issue of Physician Compensation & Recruitment, a HealthLeaders Media publication.