What pops into your head when you think of real estate?
It’s true that being a real estate sales representative and broker sounds like a rewarding opportunity with great pay, but there’s a lot more to know about the role’s realities.
What many students don’t realize is that being a real estate sales representative is like running your own business. It’s essentially a business within a business.
Realtors have to self-manage themselves and create a budget. They have to set aside money for marketing and advertising, create a budget to put back into the business, and they need a business plan.
And just like owning your own business, there are no fixed schedules, especially when you’re first starting out. You usually have to work during the evenings and weekends. Most of the time you’re doing a lot of researching, preparing, marketing, advertising and taking courses. It’s not a nine-to-five structured environment.
You completed all your courses and are now licenced to sell and lease any property in Ontario. Great, you can get started as soon as possible, right?
Technically, yes, but Gareth Jones, vice president of Corporate Development at the Real Estate Institute of Canada, says at this point in a student’s career, they still have much more to learn.
“They come out of the licencing courses with about 10 per cent of the knowledge they actually need,” he says.
He advises that beginner real estate sales representatives find a brokerage that offers training. Some of them may have a mentorship program, a job shadowing program, or a requirement to attend educational seminars and sessions in order to join the brokerage.
Many people think real estate sales mean flexibility and a lot of freedom. You can pick your own hours and make your own schedule. However, the reality is that you’re at your client’s constant beck and call 24/7, says Jones.
Clients expect you to be available to work when they’re not working. It may also be hard to take vacations, especially when you’re working with three or four clients, and taking a week off, for example, could lose you those clients. You have to be on-call a lot more to respond to your clients right away.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that real estate sales representatives make money right away. While it can be a very lucrative career, you typically won’t get paid until you close a deal, and it might take months for the deal to close. So a lot of patience and persistence is required in order to be successful.
What students may also not realize is most of the money they earn goes towards taxes. Since realtors aren’t being taxed at source, meaning employers don’t deduct taxes from their income, they must have money-smarts and be proactive in deducting their Canadian Pension Plan, Unemployment Insurance and HST and GST taxes from their income.
The most rewarding part of being a realtor is not the money but having a great working relationship with your client.
When you find the client the perfect house and they’re happy with your services, the money is secondary, says Jones.
“There are so many incredibly good realtors that really take their time, really care for their clients, do everything by the book, follow the instructions of the client, and know their client’s best interest is a priority,” he explains. “If you go into real estate sales just for the deal, you won’t last long.”
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