The Pay Play: Salary Negotiation in 2013

Salary negotiation is a high-class problem. By the time it becomes a concern, a job candidate has surpassed the most rigorous tests an employer put in place to find the best fit for a job. Yet discussions over pay and benefits can still derail what would otherwise amount to a win-win between an executive and a company that values his or her expertise. Today’s compensation negotiations for real estate professionals reflect legitimate changes in the market following a tough downturn. Some companies no longer have the resources to chase talent that comes to the table unwilling to budge on pay. Most hiring managers still care more about what that person can do for their organization than about wringing the biggest savings from a new hire. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep the company’s needs in mind while angling for the best possible deal.

The basics still apply:

Information remains the most valuable tool in any negotiation. Candidates are well-served to find out as much as they can about a company’s pay policies, either by hitting up professional contacts or by conducting research online through sites like If you know the salary range for a position, that provides the opportunity to “anchor” the negotiation at the top of that scale during preliminary discussions. Likewise, don’t shoot high above what you know a company has been willing to pay in the past, as this may turn hiring managers off completely.

Prior to formal discussions, it’s also important to know exactly what you want. Think through your minimum acceptable salary for the position, as well as which benefits and perks you consider most significant, whether they relate to bonus potential, flexible scheduling or retirement contributions. Just as important, prepare in your mind the relevant project experience, industry knowledge, contacts and other traits valued by the employer that you can use to justify the compensation you want.

Times are different:

If you’re in a position to discuss an executive pay package, you already know what to do at a negotiating table. The problem facing some companies and potential hires, though, is a misalignment of their expectations. A recovering market has renewed optimism about future business and personal prosperity, yet real estate companies remain cautious in the near term. Emboldened candidates realize that it’s no longer 2009, but companies know it’s not 2006 either. Too often, a promising negotiation can fall apart because a hard-bargaining candidate can’t meet the numbers needed by a company, sometimes when the difference amounts to a small fraction of the salary under discussion. Candidates should take an objective look at the company’s current business. Is it recovering? Is it thriving? It is somewhere in between? If the future offers greater potential than the next quarter, you and your potential employer may be well-served to steer negotiations to long-term incentives that hinge on the success of both you and the company. In any case, it’s more important than ever to enter salary negotiations with a clear picture of both your needs and those of your potential employer.

For more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped connect real estate talent to the companies and positions that match their potential. To learn more about our unique, digital approach to executive recruitment, contact Chris Hingle at Or visit our website at where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate executives.