The skyrocketing salaries of the housing boom have come back to earth.

So says James McGuire, managing director of Specialty Consultants Inc. (SCI), a Pittsburgh-based recruiting firm that specializes in real estate and construction positions. During the boom, "we saw compensation reports getting so out of whack. Five years ago, it was rare to see a division president with a base of more than $200,000,” McGuire recalls. As housing starts climbed, though, so did those salaries, especially as builders competed with each other for talent and began making high-priced Fortune 500 hires accustomed to generous compensation packages. With the industry in a slump, though, housing is no longer so appealing to outsiders, which could be good news for profit-starved home building companies. “Going forward, we project base salaries to be brought more in line” with traditional industry expectations, McGuire says.

That means base salaries of $120,000 to $235,000 (depending on revenue volume), not including incentives, for division presidents in 2008. (Two years ago, such jobs paid $126,000 to $248,000, according to SCI data.) The going rate for vice presidents of construction has also softened; today, such employees make $85,000 to $175,000, plus bonuses, compared to $94,000 to $188,000 in 2006.

Surprisingly, salary ranges for vice presidents of land have stayed solid, with positions paying $130,000 to $200,000 in 2008 versus $110,000 to $165,000. Of course, with big builders unloading their options left and right, there are far fewer land jobs available today. “There is no demand for land professionals right now,” McGuire says. “Anyone who is in land and still has a position is a lucky soul.”

What are the hot jobs? Purchasing and sales directors. “Companies are looking for people who can increase sales or decrease costs,” McGuire says.  Such candidates can expect salary ranges of $65,000 to $125,000 for purchasing directors and $65,000 to $95,000 for a general sales managers.

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Alison Rice is senior editor, online, for BUILDER magazine.