CEO pay rankings for public home builders.

As home building's public company group goes, so goes the broader economy. Or maybe it's the other way around. Whether one's fortunes causally effect the other is arguable. What's not arguable is that there's a strong correlation between trends in pay for the nation's leading corporations' top executives and compensation of home building's public company chief executive officers.

Bottom line, public home building company CEOs had a good year. They're average $5 million total compensation package would stand up comparably with Fortune 500 companies' executive pay awards.

With the exception of a few stragglers, home building's public company peer group has been busy filing Securities and Exchange Commission proxy statements, and our own Data Studio research maven Katie Gloede teamed up with editor Jerry Ascierto to rank and spotlight the 19 CEOs for which we have data. A Wall Street Journal analysis last week by Theo Francis and Joann Lublin, "CEOs Awarded More Cash Pay," articulated the challenges of measuring pay apples to apples. They write:

CEO pay packages can be a complex mix of moving parts. Cash typically comes largely from bonuses pegged to annual results and base salaries. Another dollop is sometimes tied to long-term performance measures that typically pay out over three years, provided targets are met.

Cash was the fastest-growing component of pay for the surveyed CEOs last year. Their salaries and annual bonuses rose by a median 7.8%, up sharply from the previous year’s 1.2% and a decline in the year before that.

The issue challenging compensation committees of home builders is that performance during cyclical upswings is decidedly different than during a downturn, or a bottom. Three-year earn-outs have become a popular tool, with claw-backs to insure appropriate balance of risk and caution. Ascierto's notes on last year's awards will help most readers decipher how each company's board prioritizes achievement.