Asking for a raise in real estate

26 Oct 2021
Estate Agents Co-operative
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Coming out of Covid in 2021, off the back of months of business-saving measures, it was surprising to learn more than 40 percent of property companies were offering pay rises, according to Avdiev property remuneration survey.

“While the country felt a lot of uncertainty, and some industries really suffered during Covid, the real estate market boomed in some areas and high performing agencies reaped the rewards,” said CEO of EAC, Sylvia Cortez.

“Looking at recent history, it may seem shocking that agencies increased remuneration for their teams, but for some, that was their way of saying ‘thanks for sticking with us during the tough times, thank for adapting, and thanks for patiently going without a raise’.”

If you’ve been waiting on your raise, or just haven’t had the confidence to ask for one yet, now might be just the right time.

But even if the timing is right, broaching that taboo subject and holding out your hand to a manager can seem daunting – enough so, that many simply refuse to do it.

“Often, you don’t get, if you don’t ask,” says Sylvia. “If you have a good case for why you deserve a raise, this shouldn’t be a taboo, there’s nothing wrong at all, with asking for remuneration that matches the value you bring to the business.”

If you’ve never asked for a raise before, or it hasn’t gone well in the past, here is some quick and easy guidance to help you get prepared.

  1. Do your research

Don’t – and we repeat – don’t ask for a pay rise on a whim. Do ask for a raise once you have the evidence in hand to support your request.

To find out what you could or should be paid, start by jumping online and looking at recent survey salaries. Seek and other major job boards regularly test the market and draw on data from their job boards to identify average, starting and high salaries for people who work across almost every industry.

Dive further into the job board and look for jobs the same as your own in similar agencies. Use the search functionality to limit your results so you can pinpoint the salary range on offer for these jobs.

Finally, give a recruiter a call – it doesn’t hurt. Explain to them what kind of role you are doing and therefore could do, and see what’s on offer, at what rate of pay.

With all this information, you have a better idea of where you currently stand against employees outside your office.

  1. Be prepared for complications

While some of us in real estate are on straight up, run-of-the-mill salaries, others have more complicated combinations of base wages, commission and need to factor in contributions to business marketing and other services.

When approaching these conversations, have a clear understanding of how things work and what you are asking for – do you want a higher base wage? A higher commission percentage? Lower contributions? Do you just want to adjust your conditions or add some flexibility?

  1. Ask at the right time

When asking for a raise, you really want to catch your manager in the right headspace. This means making a meeting to ‘discuss your role’ at a time when both of you can be focused and unrushed.

It also means selecting a time when the manager hasn’t just put someone off to save on pennies – read the room, the business and the economy.

  1. Present the justification for your request clearly

The challenge with asking for a raise is, often, you can’t just pop out your hand and hope for the best. This is a conversation, a sale, and while many of us may be pros at selling a property or selling our own service, humility or awkwardness can get in the way of selling ourselves and our value to someone we know well and work with every day.

Talk about how your role may have changed from when you first started and agreed to the current salary, to now, when you may be doing more or have greater responsibility.

Highlight how your performance has improved and most importantly, really clearly identify and define the value you bring to the agency. What would they be missing out on if you hadn’t been there or if you left (without threatening to do so, of course!)?

  1. Don’t beat around the bush

While you need to share your research and your reasoning, don’t get too lost in it. Don’t chat on for so long about other things that the conversation gets muddled and diving into the subject of a raise suddenly feels awkward or uncomfortable.

This is your meeting, so even though your manager is superior to you in the office, it is yours to own and to run. Prepare a mental plan or agenda of what you will cover, keep it concise yet compelling, and stick to that script to make sure you stay on track.

  1. Don’t focus on why you need it

Sometimes we ask for a pay rise because we need the money. We’ve got in over our head, we have too much debt, little Tommy needs braces and groceries aren’t going to buy themselves.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, this is a completely different conversation you need to have with your manager. While, of course, it is salary-related, you agreed to the salary and as such, it is expected you can live within those means – after all, you’re adult and you made that decision for yourself.

If unexpected life events come up and you are struggling, seek support, guidance and help.

  1. Be ready to manage a hard ‘no’

After all that prep, hearing, ‘no’ or ‘not right now’, or, ‘we just can’t stretch it that far’ can not only be disappointing, but it can also feel deeply personal.

Make sure, no matter what the outcome, you can leave the room feeling good about how you have conducted yourself and not harbouring any bitterness.

In many cases in our industry, we are gifted with choices. If we hear no, what we do is completely in our control. We can take it on the chin, get back to work and try again later OR we can move on and find another job.

If you decide you don’t want to move on, even though you’re stuck on the same salary, that is your decision and no one else’s – you need to own it and be ok with it, or it’s not the right decision for you.

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