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Perception often leads to reality. In the final weeks of every December, we conduct an industry-wide survey in cooperation with the 10 premier Real Estate Professional Associations, whose Career Centers are powered by SelectLeaders. Again this year, a rich mix of Real Estate Professionals: Candidates, Employers, Principals, Top-line Managers, and HR Executives share their insights and perspectives on the Real Estate Job Market and its prospects for the year ahead in their own words.

2014 Real Estate Hiring Trends Survey Results


Real estate companies are now very lean and will hire, but hire carefully, in 2014


“Real estate companies are now very lean and will hire, but hire carefully, in 2014.” This respondent’s perspective on slow and steady Real Estate industry hiring in 2014 was shared by 91% of the respondents – with 67.3% believing hiring will increase in 2014, while 23.5% believe hiring will remain at 2013 levels. One respondent who was hired in late December explained, “Many more companies are looking to hire, but many of the companies I interviewed with do not have a sense of urgency in hiring new employees.”

The most significant change is how compensation is viewed. Before the downturn for many, compensation was primarily based on experience and location, and centered on the individual’s performance. In the New Economy, for the first time in the history of our survey, increasing numbers of employers and employees reported compensation at all levels is based on increased revenue production. “Growth in revenue is demanded, with growth in head count constrained,” one respondent summed up. Another said, “Compensation is rising but workload expectations per person have increased. Assistants and support positions are significantly down. Every employee must contribute to the bottom line.” Another noted, “Employees that increase Net Operating Income/ EBITDA are rewarded.”

Another “first” in the New Economy is the difficulty of finding entry-level talent. As one respondent framed it, “There remains a shortage of young talent with any experience, largely due to the lack of opportunities graduating students have had over the course of the last 5 years. We, like others, tend to be reluctant to train new talent when we have to remain lean.”

Multi-faceted skillsets have become a pre-requisite in the New Economy. Over 80% reported that their company’s new hires are expected to wear more than one hat. “Less people doing more, and still being told, ‘you’re lucky to have a job’,” many reported. Yet 74% believed that compensation for new hires has either decreased (25%) or remained the same (49%). Only 26% believed that compensation for new hires has increased, along with the requirement for increased skillsets. As one employer wrote, “Individuals with good experience who can take on more than one task are exceling.”

A substantial 67% of real estate professionals expect their total compensation to increase in 2014. There is a basis for this optimism. The previous year, over half of our respondents (54%) received a bonus at the end of 2012, and also a salary increase in 2013.

It is interesting to note that 67% think their compensation will increase in 2014 and the same number (67%), think their company’s hiring will increase. Could this reflect the percentage of our industry that has recovered? 41% believe their company’s compensation is back to 2008 levels, while the majority (59%) says it is not.

What have we learned? “Hiring good people will once again create a wage war, however, if people are smart they will realize this is only a short term gain… stability and ability to weather storms is more important than immediate wage increases.” Please scroll down to view more of our industry’s insights in their own words: “My salary has been cut in half since 2008 … the government can count me as employed but that is only half the story … and I am not alone.” “The worst of times are behind us. More capital across the globe is being allocated back to commercial real estate … look forward to an exciting 2014.

Compared to last year, in 2013 did your base salary:

In 2014, do you expect your total compensation
(salary+bonus) to:

Did you receive a bonus in 2012?

Do you expect a bonus in 2013?

Do you believe compensation for new hires has:

Does your company expect new hires to wear more than one hat?

In 2014, do you expect your company’s hiring to:

Is your company’s compensation back to 2008 levels?

In your own words, please provide any perspectives and insights on the year ahead…

The best of times…

  • We have a need to replace departing employees who are upgrading to higher profile positions as the economy improves.
  • We expect 20% revenue growth.
  • Good momentum the last 4 to 8 weeks of 2013 will hopefully carry into 2014.
  • Total comp in 2013 increased substantially, but the entire increase was performance based.
  • I believe there is a shift in my industry where companies are looking for higher education over experience and with that said the compensation package may be more.
  • Note – I’m a first year hire out of undergrad.
  • Having cross-functional skills are invaluable.
  • There is a pronounced increase in real estate development activity. This should continue to 2016 if interest rate stays low.
  • If things continue to progress as they have, I anticipate the job market for more senior level real estate professionals to improve.
  • Better for both Hospitality and Construction. We expect some cost increases in Construction and ADR increases in hospitality.
  • Considering the rise in interest rates, loan proceeds will likely shrink, but opportunities for profitable transactions will still be plentiful.
  • The markets are up and CDS spreads are tightening to under 100 for the first time since 2007 – a resounding vote of confidence by equity and debt investors alike.
  • Real Estate companies seem to be ramping up … operating at the levels they were prior to the 2008 real estate hit.
  • We are working in more deals and hiring additional people company wide. Our company is back to 2007 levels.
  • We expect to see a healthier commercial leasing market and an uptick in the smaller 2,000-10,000 sf industrial market.
  • I am an independent contractor, so my compensation is based upon what I develop in the way of real estate activity at this time. I expect the real estate brokerage and development business to increase for the period of 2014-2016.
  • Companies are starting to fill the lower level needs – since they can finally afford someone – but in the coming years there should be enough capital to see more movement at the middle and upper levels of management.
  • We expect to add to staff. Staff is called on for multi-functional and multi-tasking efforts. Ability to analyze opportunities. Excel expertise. PowerPoint expertise. Good writer. Critical thinker.
  • We expect more productivity from employees with a renewed dedication to core principals of real estate.
  • In my field there are jobs available at many levels, and it’s taking less than 6 months to find a new position if you’re downsized or your employer loses a contract. At the moment, the future looks good for retail real estate.
  • Job market for NYC real estate professionals seems to be getting stronger.
  • We hired 100+ people since 4/2012 and slimmed down about 30 of them mid-2013. Been steady at around 3/month since and I expect that average to remain for 2014.
  • Individuals with good experience who can take on more than one task are exceling. Companies are still cautious to over-hire as they did in 2007/2008, but many are looking for the diamond in the rough analyst with 1-2 years of solid experience in banking or PE
  • The perception in the marketplace is that the “worst of times” are behind us. More capital across the globe is being allocated back to commercial real estate. QE tapering and US Gov’t political gridlock could impede or delay continued momentum. Being a glass half full kind of person, I like where we’re at and the opportunities that are popping up and look forward to an exciting 2014.
  • Our business has centered on distressed properties and as that category has decreased, so has our business. I think we are a bit different from the rest of the industry.
  • Rock ‘n Roll finally
  • Interest rate dependent. If the Federal Government causes a shock to the monetary system causing a trickle down to housing, interest rates and cap rates, the year could get bumpy. If there are no major shocks, the year will be bright for major metro areas with some trickle down to secondary and tertiary markets.
  • Self-employed for the third year, in 2013 I earned a lifetime record income, by 30%. 2012 was a low: 1/3 of 2013 earnings. 2014 I could be in line to double 2013 earnings. Construction project management consultants (for developers, architects, etc.) are getting stronger foothold because whereas employment loyalty can be weaker among full-time hires, it can be stronger among consultants whose reputations are more closely tied to their sticking with projects through completion.
  • Cautious Optimism. Companies still need to be convinced that overall economic conditions will continue to improve, that interest rates will remain relatively low and that both the housing markets and job markets will continue to gain strength before they will initiate any expansions and/or hiring.
  • We are looking to how 2014 first quarter looks.
  • I am working in the industrial EPC construction industry in Saudi Arabia … Lots of hiring is happening for people with the right skill sets.
  • Many of us who were cut during the economic downturn have new jobs – but we unfortunately missed our customary 10% annual bonuses while switching to new employers. This reduces income significantly.
  • We lost a large percentage of our employees in mid-to-late 2013. I think this points to former employees having better opportunities (in terms of pay and responsibilities), and I believe that trend will continue in 2014.
  • I feel the real estate industry in leasing of flex space, office and warehouse has improved over the past year and is starting out with good activity. Retail is still challenging, but showing signs of recovery. As a leasing agent/property manager, this provides for added compensation in commissions. Contractors are crazy busy which is a definite good sign.

The worst of times…

  • There appears to be a lot of cash on the sideline, but company owners still fear a somewhat slow economy with the potential for more taxes and more costs to add employees.
  • Until governments begin operating to the same financial constraints of industry the scenario will not change significantly.
  • Major financial firms will continue to have flat compensation and marginal increases in bonuses. This is primarily due to regulatory issues that have come post 2009.
  • I was laid off in 2013 as part of an overall 20% staff reduction and I expect my former company will have at least one more round of reductions in 2014. Positions I am currently interviewing for – which are more senior to my last – seem to be at salary levels about 10% less than my last.
  • I believe that the job market will be lower than it is this year and if they do hire, they will have a lot of experience and education, but the pay will be lower than normal.
  • I was laid off in 2012 and hopefully will find a job in 2014. Age discrimination is in full force. I am 59.
  • Industry is downsized. Companies hire less expensive junior people for formerly senior jobs. Expertise has diminished.
  • Still tough finding a job that isn’t a lateral move. I’m ready to move to the “next” level.
  • It is going to continue to be a hard time for experienced property managers. Owners will continue to hire junior staff as property managers and then try to oversee them with a combination of technology (reporting platforms) and regional directors who are more seasoned. This will drive down the slots open for seasoned property managers–I know of several strong managers with 20 years’ experience in the field who have been out of work for 2 to 3 years and counting, partly for this reason.
  • I think when looking at unemployment levels and percentages, people need to look at how many people are not on the list anymore because their unemployment has run out. So how many people are employed FT in 2013 and what do the numbers look like since 2008?
  • I have been in the job hunt for 2 months. I have submitted 30 applications and received one response.
  • If your 50 or older looking for employment, it’s tough…
  • More to do with fewer labor resources.
  • More workload on fewer people!
  • Unless there is a much broader expansion across the entire economy, I do not anticipate a general upturn within the commercial construction and real estate industry. There will be pockets of progress highly dependent upon local economic conditions the balance of the nation will remain somewhat stagnant and employment outside the multi-housing arena depressed.
  • As a mortgage underwriter, my base salary has decreased each time I get laid off and get hired by a new bank. Mortgage “underwriter” title is now “processor” even though the job skill set is the same. With the refinance boom over, I do not expect a bonus in 2013. Loan applications were way down in 2013; refi is dead, only new applications are for purchases. Increased rates further decrease loan applications. FHA is dead, Conventional loans with MI are the norm except now guidelines are stricter.
  • The Real Estate financial services industry job market seems to be as tough as ever. So many people that I know personally have been looking forever for a job. Even those with great qualifications and great resumes are being passed over.
  • I am making the same amount as I did when I first got into commercial real estate. As a twenty year senior manager and former Director of RE, I am considering a career change. There’s just no money in management.
  • I’m finding that more property management companies are nickel and diming employees. Every year management fees increase but salaries stay the same. And along with that comes added responsibilities. Not encouraging!

Challenges:

  • Companies have been successful in doing more with less staff (than pre-recession) and have not replenished their ranks.
  • My own opinion is that business will remain strong, but we will not be able to increase pricing to clients, which means it will become even more difficult to control costs which our suppliers are passing on more quickly then we can ours i.e. Commission & Property Management revenue.
  • Generally continuing that slow trend upwards. Primary risk is when interest rates increase, what happens to values and maturing loans? Feels like we are in a value bubble driven by low interest rates, just not sure when it pops or what happens to the greater economy when it does.
  • The Bottom Line
  • We need to fix lending.
  • Caution in growth strategy due to the value of the dollar and the medical insurance puzzle.
  • I find it challenging as the owner to recruit staff members who have an overall drive to succeed.
  • Finding it hard to find qualified recent college graduates willing to learn about real estate with good computer, writing skills and a good attitude.
  • As politicians are letting more and more people into this country (because they want their votes when they become naturalized citizens) and letting immigrants have their way on American issues we as true Americans do not stand a chance.
  • CFPB regulations and the Dodd-Frank Act have drastically impacted the compensation in the lending sector forcing companies to reduce compensation and benefits. Most new hires are coming on at lesser amounts than the previous two years and expected to wear more hats.
  • Base salaries are high but bonuses still not yet there.
  • Although compensation has increased I see a continued trend to do more with less manpower. Job duties and responsibilities have increased.
  • I expect a continuing modest improvement in hiring and small increase in wages, but remain tentative about the second half of next year. I expect real estate markets in northwest Florida and the southeast to continue to recover at the present moderate rate … with growth rates in single family markets, retail, multi-family rental market segments. Office and condominium will remain stagnant as long as phantom inventory still exists. Equity is available but market conditions are not going to allow double digit rates of returns. Deals will continue to be small scale with concern about the uncertainty of a sustained period of recovery in a still shaky economy. As in all election years business will be tentative about the future.
  • There seems to be a substantial demand for analysts in the industry. I recently hired an analyst and the competition for talent was quite fierce. The result was the compensation was higher. The opportunities have yet to translate into VP level opportunities.
  • The title and escrow industry, of which I am a part, hires and fires based on housing purchases and loan rates. Early last summer my company (and others) were hiring like crazy, stealing people from other companies. The rates went up, refinances and purchases went down and most of those new employees got laid off in the last three months. Many offices have gone to 4 days per week. Other offices have closed all together. The outlook is uncertain to me for 2014.
  • Our compensation is based on a percentage of profits and my management continues to increase gross revenues, but the company would grow faster without the current federal administrative business policies. These policies have held back real growth in the business community, as it is ready to grow but not until there are more favorable conditions and steady direction by the government.
  • The dynamics of investment real estate reflect a minimal increase in transactional velocity with shorter term leases being written, at lower going in rates. Sales of income producing properties in Florida are slow, lots of equity requirements. Future interest rates will determine credit availability at rates that make sense to borrow to provide them the return on investments that they require. Multifamily continues to be the strongest sector no doubt because of agencies who acquire the debt. Value added properties will continue to be attractive if the cost/benefit can be seen up front in the short run with eventual long term gain. Many of these properties require remediation, upgrading, re-tenanting. Occupancy by credit tenants will continue to be strong on quality investment properties including retail and industrial both of which seem to gain attraction.
  • There remains a shortage of young talent with any experience, largely due to the lack of opportunities graduating students have had over the course of the last 5 years. We, like others, tend to be reluctant to train new talent when we have to remain lean.
  • Rising costs of capital will start to squeeze everyone at the margin. Retirement of debt will continue to be the focus, especially as it becomes more costly to hold. New rental housing supply should help in alleviating some of the cost burden of rising rents in major business districts like Boston. This will be necessary since mine, and many of my peers’ base salaries are increasing at a decreasing rate.
  • Compensation is rising but workload expectations per person have increased. Assistants and support positions are significantly down. Every employee must contribute to the bottom line.
  • The title and escrow industry, of which I am a part, hires and fires based on housing purchases and loan rates. Early last summer my company (and others) were hiring like crazy, stealing people from other companies. The rates went up, refinances and purchases went down and most of those new employees got laid off in the last three months. Many offices have gone to 4 days per week. Other offices have closed all together. The outlook is uncertain to me for 2014.
  • We expect continued competition for hiring experienced individuals in the mortgage lending space. At my company, I get the impression that our hiring philosophy in 2014 will be to target established teams and inexperienced college hires. I don’t sense that we plan to pursue hiring many mid-career individuals that are not part of an established team.
  • Slow steady growth based on my own personal efforts in building this real estate management company. Our compensation is based on a percentage of profits and my management continues to increase gross revenues, but the company would grow faster without the current federal administrative business policies. These policies have held back real growth in the business community, as it is ready to grow but not until there are more favorable conditions and steady direction by the government.
  • Our company will be hiring, in 2008 the department had 10 people today we are 3.
  • Success in 2014 will only come if there is a reduction in the rate of unemployment.

Obamacare, and its effect on the recovery, was on many respondents minds:

  • Obamacare has caused employers to drop insurance as a benefit, but there is no increase in the salary to compensate. I believe a bonus plan with achievable goals would be a great compensation if employers could incorporate that in their budgets. It would be a win win!
  • Going to be very chaotic as the health-insurance policy cancellations start rippling thru the group-plan population. Continued migration of some FT employees to PT status as employers look for ways to avoid Obamacare employer mandates.
  • There is concern/worry over the effects of the Fed’s QE policy and Obamacare. Given as such, we curtailing any new capital investment and hiring until the dust settles…
  • I think we are in for a very rough ride in 2014 regarding jobs. ObamaCare will cause more job change and loss than anything else outside of disasters and war. The price Americans will literally pay out of their pockets through loss of jobs because employers quit carrying the insurance or have to make it so expensive, employees can no longer keep it. I have numerous friends and acquaintances that are now without insurance for the reasons I just shared, frantically searching for jobs which still will offer an insurance plan similar to what they previously had to pay out of pocket. And who was it in Congress who proposed that the President and Congress members take the same insurance plans we have to take??!! Pure genius!
  • … continued shrinking of company margins because of lack of consumer confidence and discretionary spending due to unemployment, continued layoffs, Obamacare and lack of political courage/leadership.
  • My company hired me as a 40hr/week intern for 3 months and is now making me a regular employee but my responsibilities are basically identical. It just costs them less for a few months paying me the intern compensation plus they get a chance to vet me for a few months before moving forward with full compensation and benefits. PT and contract workers are becoming more common with Obamacare stuff.
  • Reduced Federal spending will begin with trimming the military budget and National Services and reduce available services to and for the general public. Obamacare will eat up all of the available savings being realized by the budget cuts as the general public will be told that the cost has gone down from savings. This should send 3 or 4 million people to the unemployment lines. We should begin to see a rebellion of sorts against out-sourcing of job and projects. Technology by the next generation should even the playing field. The Asian Markets are buying our new technology developing uses that the inventors never thought of! The USA markets will remain dim until after the new elections.
  • The main words I have been using is DOWNSIZE MORE and give less benefits so I can comply with the nonsensical and absurd Obamacare and the plethora of taxes I pay in CA. In fact, seriously considering relocation to another state and taking no employees with me.

Methodology: The survey was emailed in the last weeks of December, 2013 to employers and Real Estate candidates who have registered and opted-in for emails on the SelectLeaders Real Estate Job Network. The survey was conducted using a web-based survey program.


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