In 2018 Pro R.E.A. Staffing placed 81 candidates across the United States and Canada, but for the data set we’re talking about today, we’re going to throw out the salaried buyer’s agents, the property managers, and the very high-level, senior-level roles, and we’re just going to focus on real estate assistants. However, under that umbrella of real estate assistant, we have a lot of different job titles and different levels of responsibility. So we are also talking about executive assistants, marketing coordinators, listing coordinators, transaction coordinators, and a few other roles. If you want the details, the granular details, download our salary guide.
Now, the big question everyone wants to know is, what is the average starting salary of a real estate assistant? Our average for 2018 was $60,988. This is the average base starting salary. This does not tell the whole story. We’ll talk about bonus structures and benefits in a minute. Also, keep in mind that most of our placements happened in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. These are high-end markets. The salaries are higher than the rest of the country, so this is a skewed average. Again, check out the salary guide for more details.
The other question people want to know is, did salaries rise in 2018? And the short answer is, yes, a little bit, but it depends on where you live. Back in 2016, we told clients in San Francisco that they needed to pay at least $55,000 in base salary to get a licensed, experienced real estate assistant. Throughout 2017, we saw the market tighten considerably, and by the end of 2017, we were telling people they had to pay at least $65,000. That’s $10,000 jump in base salary! Things cooled off in 2018, and there wasn’t much of a change in San Francisco.
However, going down to Los Angeles, we saw that same kind of phenomenon happen in 2018. Back in 2017, our average starting salary for a real estate assistant in Los Angeles was $53,240. Fast-forward one year, and our average starting salary for 2018 was $67,957. That’s a serious increase! Now, we didn’t place all of the assistants in Los Angeles in those two years, and it’s possible that just we happened to do more high-level placements last year versus the year before. So take that with a grain of salt. However, we still did see an increase, and I can tell you from recruiting in that market throughout those two years, we saw a tightening of the availability of candidates and people’s willingness to pay more for top talent. With the market starting to soften, I anticipate that these numbers are going to level off, and they might even go down a little bit in 2019. We’ll have to see.
Now, here is a breakdown of the average starting salaries across the United States in 2018 based on our data. These are only our placements and I only included the regions in which we did at least three placements, If you want more detail, download the salary guide.
As I said earlier, the base salary only tells part of the story. Sixty-four percent also include some a bonus structure, and the bonus structure can add anywhere from 20 to 35 percent, to a candidate’s total salary.
When it comes to structuring a bonus for a real estate assistant, there are no hard and fast rules, and we’ve seen all kinds of creative structures, but there are a few that are commonly accepted as best practices.
1. The most common is just a flat bonus amount per closed transaction. It’s clean, it’s simple, it’s easy, it works well for an assistant who is actively involved in the transaction process, and you want to tie their compensation to getting those transactions closed. The amount of these bonuses are all over the map. For a high-volume sales price team, it might be $25, $50, $100 dollars per closed transaction. For a luxury team, who does maybe 10, 20, or 30 deals a year, it could be $500 per transaction. It’s really all over the map.
2. The next common practice and this is one that I do not advocate for, is a percentage of GCI. I don’t like this because we want assistants focused on the back office. We want them to think like an assistant. We want them focused on systems, and procedures, and customer service. We don’t want them calculating their commission split on each deal. We’ve seen that when an assistant is paid like this, they start to think more like an agent, and maybe eventually want to be an agent. A lot of my clients would like to avoid that scenario.
3. Another practice that we see that I do advocate for is linking bonus to sales volume goals met. For example, if the goal for Q1 is to do $10 million in sales volume there would be a bonus at the end of the quarter for hitting that goal. This works well. It’s clean, it’s easy to measure, and makes sense.
4. One final option to consider is tying the bonus to certain goals met or projects completed. It might be, for a marketing coordinator, when the new website goes live, they get a bonus of $__X__. Or, for every month that the monthly newsletter goes out on time and you get a 25% open rate, they get a certain bonus.
We want bonuses to be measurable and achievable with a stretch and tied to the candidate’s role.
The final piece of the compensation puzzle are benefits. We still don’t see a lot of our clients offering robust benefits plans. More and more are offering some money toward health insurance, and almost all of our clients provide at least five days of paid vacation in the first year, and that usually goes to 10 days in year two.
Keep in mind, for higher-level positions, or for more senior employees, asking them to take only five days of vacation in year one probably won’t work. You probably won’t get them to leave their current job for that, so you may have to offer more.
Now you know what you need to pay your real estate assistant, but do you know how to find the assistant who is the perfect fit for your business? Schedule a free consultation to discuss your hiring needs.