Buying or selling a home is the biggest financial decision most people will ever make in their lives.
Needless to say, it’s a huge decision that is not taken lightly but much time and contemplation – sometimes some sweat and tears – are spent agonizing over the pros and cons of what to do.
And along the way, consumers rely on realtors to help guide them and give them the advice and information they need to make those critical decisions.
But what do consumers really know about what it takes to be a real estate professional in this city? – working in an industry that generates several billion dollars in economic activity each year.
Consumers can rest assured that people who become a realtor go through a rigorous process of getting their licence and along the way as well they have to meet certain standards.
In Calgary, the Real Estate Council of Alberta is the independent governing authority that sets, regulates and enforces standards for real estate brokerage, mortgage brokerage, property management, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. It licences real estate agents and administers the Real Estate Act on behalf of the provincial government.
Today, it licences more than 15,000 industry professionals in Alberta, handles more than 1,000 complaints against industry professionals each year, and educates more than 2,000 potential new applicants through pre-licensing courses each year.
The process of becoming a realtor, says Bryan Douey, RECA’s Acting Communications Manager, includes the pre-licensing education program which looks at the courses they need to basically understand the industry, understand the regulation of the industry, followed by further courses on the actual practice of doing their job.
The practice course for realtors involves picking specific areas of real estate study such as residential, rural, commercial and property management.
A police criminal check is a must and RECA has a good character policy and a code of conduct that candidates must adhere to. Costs to enter the profession can range from $3,000 to $6,000.
Douey says the length of time to go through the entire process depends on the individual but usually takes from a year to 18 months.
“It starts with a free online session that’s called the Real Estate Career Information Session and anyone who wants to become eligible to enter the courses has to take this. It’s pretty in-depth, covering information about how the job works so you can decide if you actually want to spend money and you actually want to do this. Thousands and thousands of people start that every year and maybe 10 per cent of those will move on to actually enrol in the course,” he says, adding that about 1,500 a year get their licence.
The information session covers the types of personalities and qualities suited for someone becoming a realtor.
“You should be a people person. It’s a sales job. Be comfortable with math. Be comfortable with irregular hours and irregular pay. Good at networking.”
Of course, there is a lot more to being qualified than just going through those courses. They need good mentorship from other agents and their office in order to know how to actually complete the contract and all the additional forms correctly. And in the case of RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) , they are all independent contractors, so they are now self employed and have to know or learn how to run their own business and all that goes with it – accounting, taxes, marketing, systems, etc., in addition to finding business. Clients won’t just drop into their laps.
So consumers can rest assured that a realtor they’re dealing with has the extensive training, has spent a few thousand dollars to get their licence – which indicates their commitment to the career – and also has gone through a police check.
“Typically the people who have the drive and are self-starters are the ones that succeed. It’s about building your own leads and following them up and creating your own business,” says Douey.
And it’s comforting for consumers to know that the person they are engaging to help them make such a huge financial position is indeed qualified and vetted through the system.
If people are interested in becoming a realtor, here’s a handy and informative brochure put out by RECA: https://www.reca.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brochure-A-Career-In-Real-Estate.pdf
RECA also has produced these videos to check out: