What does it take to become a real estate agent?

Real estate is a regulated profession and aspiring agents must complete several key steps to enter the industry.

Realtors are registered professionals who have the knowledge and expertise to provide strategic advice and help consumers make informed choices.

Typically, as a consumer, you can expect agents to offer a wide range of services and advice, such as sharing their knowledge about housing in specific neighborhoods, monitoring market trends, offering competitive market analysis, arranging visits, negotiating the best price and contract terms and handling paperwork on your behalf.

Additionally, since they regularly deal with real estate transactions, agents are qualified to provide other types of information. This could include things like local school ratings, zoning permissions, flood plains and whether certain areas are planned for property developments.

In order to be able to do all of this effectively and be trusted to protect your best interests, all agents must go through a rigorous qualification process before registering for business. Specifically, they must do the following:

  • Complete a real estate education program, pass exams and register with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). The Real Estate Salesperson program includes required courses, theory exams, and simulation sessions where they apply their theoretical knowledge in real-life scenarios with expert facilitators, which helps prepare agents for different types of transactions.

Once a potential agent has successfully completed the program, they must apply to register with RECO in order to begin trading in real estate. During their first two years of registration, agents are required to complete additional in-depth courses in areas of particular commercial interest to them.

  • Salespeople looking to advance their careers to become brokers and eventually manage brokerages should complete the Real Estate Brokerage Program. Before applying to participate in the brokerage program, a seller must pass a qualifying exam to ensure that they fully understand the law as it applies to them as a seller.

The real estate broker’s program includes three stages: courses, exams and, finally, updating his registration with RECO. To be eligible to register as a broker with RECO, applicants must have successfully completed the broker program and have been employed as a salesperson or agent for at least 24 months.

Regularly attend mandatory Continuing Education (CME) courses. Because the market is constantly changing, agents should continue to take these courses every two years throughout their careers to maintain and hone their knowledge and skills. These continuing education courses provide agents with up-to-date information on industry issues, best practices and regulatory issues.

  • Subscribe to an insurance. All agents in Ontario, whether salespersons or brokers, are required to participate in RECO’s professional liability insurance program, which includes consumer deposit insurance and errors and omissions coverage. Consumer deposit insurance protects your deposit and can cover the fulfillment of your transaction in the unlikely event that the money is not available at closing. The program is administered by RECO and can provide protection and confidence throughout the transaction.

You can search for all actively registered agents on RECO’s search tool.

If you have a question about the process of buying or selling a home, please email [email protected]

Joe Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). This column is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice on real estate transactions. Follow RECO on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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