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Only 12% of Real Estate Companies Plan to Increase Hiring in Next Six Months

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RISMEDIA, November 5, 2009—In a survey of real estate CFOs and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, only 12% of real estate companies say they will increase hiring in the next six months and nearly two-thirds (63%) plan to reduce bonuses. At the same time, while two-thirds (64%) believe the U.S. economy will improve; one-quarter (24%) expect their organization’s financial prospects to get worse during the same time period–making real estate one of the most optimistic industries on the national economy, but also one of the most pessimistic about their own industry’s outlook. 

In addition to bonuses, real estate companies are also reducing other employee benefits–42% are reducing health care benefits; 32% are reducing 401(k) matches. More than half (58%) of the real estate companies surveyed said they are reducing salary raises and another half are reducing stock options and other forms of equity-based compensation. In terms of pricing pressure, they are most concerned about the cost of employee benefits (79%), such as health care and pension costs. 

Over the next six months, do you expect the U.S. economy to: 

                                             Real Estate          National
Improve                              64%                       49%
Remain the same             27%                      41%
Get worse                            9%                        10% 

Over the next six months, do you expect your company’s financial prospects to: 

                                            Real Estate           National
Improve                             36%                       45%
Remain the same            39%                       43%
Get worse                          24%                        13% 

Over the next six months, do you expect prices or fees charged by your company to: 

                                            Real Estate          National
Increase                            6%                          22%
Remain the same           67%                        67%
Decrease                           27%                        11% 

Over the next six months, do you expect your headcount to: 

                                              Real Estate         National
Increase                              12%                       24%
Remain the same              55%                      54%
Decrease                              33%                      22% 

When do you believe the U.S. economy will come out of the recession? 

                                              Real Estate         National
By the end of 2009            12%                     15%
First half of 2010              36%                     27%
Second half of 2010         24%                      35%
2011                                     21%                        17%
Later                                     6%                          7% 

About which type(s) of pricing pressure are you most concerned? (Check all that apply.) 

                                                         Real Estate        National
Employee benefits  
(e.g., health care, pensions)       79%                    77%
Energy                                                30%                  30%
Insurance                                           39%                  31%
Raw materials
(e.g., food, metals)                          15%                    30%
Other                                                    15%                    14% 

Is your company reducing average costs per employee in any of these employee benefit and compensation areas? (Check as many that apply.) 

                                              Real Estate                              National
                                              Increasing    Reducing        Increasing    Reducing
401(k) match                     0%                  32%                    3%                   26%
Bonuses                               0%                  63%                   7%                    55%
Disability benefits             0%                   3%                    3%                   10%
Health care benefits         0%                 42%                     7%                  33%
Life insurance benefits     0%                  3%                    2%                   11%
Salary raises                       3%                   58%                    9%                 42%
Stock options and 
other forms of
equity-based compensation 0%             50%                    6%                   34% 

* Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 

For more information, visit www.GrantThornton.com

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