Labor Market vs. Housing Market: 3 Ways They Compare & How To Level Up

It’s fair to say in years past, we have fallen into the comfort zone of having the freedom to do what we want, when we want. Staying comfortable in our corporate jobs, traveling freely, consistency in the real estate market, frequent social gatherings, crowded restaurants– the list goes on.

As of March of 2020, that all came to a screeching halt. It’s no secret the last two plus years have altered our lives drastically. The landscape has changed politically, financially, professionally, and personally. The uncertainty in our world has opened our eyes and is leading others to question things. What happens when we are subjected to quieting the noise?

Reevaluation, then change.

What are consistent changes people are making? For most, having a job you truly love and living in a space you enjoy are at the top of that list. The Great Resignation, work from home, market value, over asking, bidding wars– all phrases we have been hearing on repeat that relate to both worlds. These two important aspects of our lives overlap in very unique ways. As someone that has experienced the housing market and cutthroat world of real estate while searching for a new home over the last 2 years, I can’t help but see the obvious similarities it has with the job market and talent landscape I’ve been consulting clients about simultaneously.

What can we learn from the increasingly competitive talent market and the merciless housing market? How do we navigate the uncertainty of these two parallel landscapes in the current times? Well, here are a few thoughts that have been coming up in my conversations lately:

1. Competition Has Gone Up, Time To Reevaluate our Game Plan

The amount of competition in both the real estate market and talent market has increased at levels no one could have fully imagined (though many predicted similar themes and tried to warn companies of the pending crisis over the past decade, only to be shrugged off in pursuit of next quarter’s targets). In the tech world today, approximately 76% of IT employees receive around three or more offers when hired into a new company. With multiple offers on the table, employees are able to increase their pay by nearly 40% while also adding in maximum flexibility to their work situation. In the real estate market, the average house for sale in Massachusetts generates an average of five offers and sells in less than four days. What used to work for employers and buyers for many years, decades even, is now obsolete.

We’ve not just leveled up from Junior Varsity to Varsity in the same game– talent or real estate alike. We’ve gone from JV to the pros in a completely different sport. If you aren’t operating with a new strategy, an updated playbook, the right equipment, and appropriate investment levels for the current market conditions, you simply won’t stand a chance.

Up until now...

Employers have gotten away with minimal (if any) compensation increases for their hard working employees, regular cutbacks on humanistic “perks” like company outings and celebration events, and a one-way communication hierarchy that too often creates a divided culture of humans at the top and “robots” below that serve them.

Buyers have gotten away with negotiating home sales at below listing price rates and setting terms to match their ideal comfort level (full inspections, home sale contingencies, ideal closing dates, etc.)

Not any more…

Employers need to pay above market value and be prepared to offer 100% flexibility to win their target employee (even if it makes them feel a bit uncomfortable to do so).

Buyers need to put forth their maximum offer first and be prepared to be 100% flexible against the Sellers terms (even if it too makes them uncomfortable).

Employers must invest in their Talent Experience & Marketing capabilities at a level that is on par with Customer Experience & Marketing capabilities. They must also prioritize investment in meaningful benefits + experiences for the employees they already have over flashy Recruitment Marketing campaigns to attract new talent with [often] over-embellished claims about the organization.

Buyers need to invest less in discretionary life expenses and more on saving towards a new higher-priced home (if it’s a dream they actually want to realize in the near-term).

Simply put, the approaches of the past and playing conservative in a supersaturated market will no longer yield your desired results for the foreseeable future. If you want to win, be prepared for the realities of today’s world and be prepared to be uncomfortable in the pursuit. (And if your head is spinning about where to start in the talent game, let’s talk)

2. The Importance of Showing vs. Telling

For buyers and candidates alike, it is essential that they are able to experience more than what they read.

As I’ve been searching for a new home, the Photoshop’d 1-page brochure typically provided by the realtor isn’t enough to convince me that the home is worth my top-dollar and much of my emotional security. I, along with most others, need to experience the home through all senses - imagery, vision, and feeling.

We need to know

How does it feel to walk through the front door? Where will I enjoy my morning cup of coffee? How will it feel to host a dinner party? How does the neighborhood make me feel? What are the neighbors like?

The same goes for high investment career decisions. Pretty ad campaigns are not enough for great candidates these days. Candidates want to be able to confidently imagine what a day, a week or a month would be like in their role. They are looking for enticing environments, unique experiences, and differentiating benefits.

They need to know

How does it feel to interact with my potential team? What vibe does the office (in-person or virtual) have? Do they have flexibility in their day-to-day schedules? How important is the voice of employees to leadership, and how do they prioritize personal growth for all alongside company growth? How will my total benefits package be better than what I have now?

Candidates need to see firsthand what it’s like to work at your company and hear from people like them.

You will not have a shot if you’re not giving an immersive experience– both with purchasing a house and recruiting new talent. What you are offering the other party has to feel like the right choice in both heart and mind. Right now it’s the best (and arguably the only) way to stand out above the competition.

3. Care and Connection Matter

Buying and selling a house has turned into more of a personal endeavor instead of a business transaction. With the state of the market today, potential buyers are writing letters and sending videos to explain to the seller why this house is so important to them. Once the tablestake terms have been met, the connection between the buyers and sellers is essential. And it’s the buyer's job to portray that in the buying process.

Finding a career for a candidate can be similar. Why do you think this candidate will fit in? What about their skillset stands out to you? What part of their personality will be a great addition to the team?

Candidates want to hear the answers to these questions and know you care about them as a real person (not just an emotionless “headcount”) right from the start. Thank them for their time and consideration, engage with them, and let them know you believe in them as a future employee. As you know, there are a lot of companies out there looking for incredible talent and candidates are looking for unique, individual experiences.

Existing employees want to feel valued too. Ask them for honest feedback– what they want, what they need more of, less of and what ideas that have on how things can be done better.  If you have a list of benefits the employees aren’t using, engage with the employees to figure out what they are looking for and make the change. Afterall, if you don’t give them this platform inside your organization, they’ll take to the external platforms such as Glassdoor and Blind to do so.

Humans need the immersive experience, personal connection and individualized stories they trust. If that is not something you offer during their decision journey, they will find it elsewhere.


In today’s aggressive markets, doing what you’ve always done won’t get you what you want now or in the future. Businesses cannot afford to approach the talent market in traditional, half-hearted ways. At Truist, we have seen firsthand the benefits of making execution of human-focused strategies and investments a top priority.

What talent experience changes has your company made since the pandemic? What changes have you made in your day-to-day life? (If you’ve successfully bought a house in a sizzling market, how the heck did you win?) We would love to hear!