A new Ontario real estate agent, wow, congratulations! Now what? Chances are you are probably still flying high with excitement after all the hard work and study you just went through. Time to take a well deserved break before jumping into the realty sales game. An opportunity to think about things like what kind of properties to specialize in, what kind of Brokerage to be part of, and a good time to review and list some old and new goals.
Now that you have your passing marks, and you took some time off to celebrate, a decision to join an Ontario realty Brokerage firm needs to be made. This is a requirement since you must be employed by a Brokerage registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario or R.E.C.O. You will fill out a new registration with your employer and your employer (realty Brokerage) will also fill in its section and authorize same. These forms with your fees and dues payable to R.E.C.O. will be sent by either yourself or your new employer. Upon successful qualification, based on the information you provided on the application, you will be issued your brand new Ontario real estate license certificate.
There are many different types of real estate Brokers and Brokerages to work for in Ontario. Variations among them like, residential vs commercial and/or industrial and leasing, office expenses, commission splits, services provided for you, training, office space for your desk and phone, franchise office vs independent etc etc. One main difference which is vastly overlooked by many new realty agents starting out in their careers, is whether the real estate Brokerage is a member of their local realty board. The difference is vast since being a member means that all registered agents with that Brokerage have to be members as well. Being a member entitles the agent many beneficial privileges and services but it also comes at a yearly cost. If the Brokerage is not a member then the yearly cost is avoided by the Brokerage and all its registrants and no services or privileges given either.
Here are some steps you should consider:
1. In Ontario under the R.E.C.O. rules and regulations, you must be registered with them through an Ontario Brokerage within 1 year of passing your final exam. If you fail to do so, you will have to start from “scratch”. Therefore, your first step ought to be whether to jump in as per the steps that follow or park your Ontario real estate license and hold it active with a Brokerage that provides a low cost “keep your license active” service. If you decide to park your license by holding it active, you can do so indefinitely subject to the Brokerage policies. When you decide to take your license off hold then all you need to do is request to transfer it to another Ontario Brokerage of your choice. One more thing, if you park your license, make sure it will be a month to month contract to ensure flexibility. If you are asked to pay a yearly membership or parking fee, inquire whether they have other options available for you.
2. Decide what type of real estate in Ontario you want to sell/trade. Residential homes and condos, investment housing like apartment buildings, industrial buildings, commercial properties, office buildings, leasing etc
3. a) Based on your decision in step 2, interview the Broker/Owner of a few real estate Brokerages in Ontario that specialize in that field since they will be able to assist you in the “know how” of that selection. Learn about their support, and commissions payable to you and learn about their office policies. Compare them to the other Brokerages you interview. Pick the Brokerage the fits in with your personal goals.
3. b) Depending on your selection in step 2, you may or may not require the services of your local Ontario real estate Board. Most active residential salespeople will want to be members of their local Board because the multiple listing service will be extremely beneficial in sales. However, some commercial salespeople elect to be registered with a Brokerage that is not a member of any Board. Commercial is often a field where agents develop their own purchasers for their in house listings and prefer to sell or lease commercial properties without the assistance of other agents from other Brokerages through the m.l.s. system. If I lost you here, sorry…make sure you ask the Brokers you interview to explain the pros and cons. You may get a different view from each Broker.
As a new Ontario real estate agent, Licensee, you may want to consider taking it slow before you jump in and incur all kinds of expenses right off the start. It may prove you well to initially join an Ontario realty Brokerage firm that will allow you to hold your registration or license there with them at a low cost before deciding to go full out with a franchise Brokerage or any other Firm that provides all the services that you will eventually require in your career. In the real estate Brokerage world this is also known or referred to as “park your license” or “hold it active” with a non board member Brokerage in Ontario.
Park your license and holding it active does not only apply to new Ontario real estate agents. There are Brokerages out there that provide this “parking” or “holding” real estate licenses for all registrants including Brokers, associate Brokers, Realtor, sales rep’s, husband and wife real estate teams where there are 2 licenses active etc etc.
If you had previously done your homework and have already selected the Ontario Brokerage you wish to join and be employed by, then great, jump in with gusto and make it happen. For the many new real estate graduates out there, taking the slow road may be a better way to ensure you make the right decisions for yourself. It is amazing how many well intentioned people decided to become a real estate agent in Ontario with a long term career in mind only to have that dream cut short. The expenses that will be introduced to you in this field can be shocking especially if it takes a while before you notice some commissions coming in.
Give yourself a fighting chance. It really is a great business to be in right into your later years. Your just around the corner from receiving that certificate (real estate license) in the mail that you have worked so hard for. Shop around for that Brokerage and interview at least 3-5 Offices/Firms. Jump in with a full service real estate Brokerage with full real estate board membership or park your license for a while and take your time doing your due diligence. The choice is yours.
Bruno Cristini is a Broker with over 25 years experience. He is also an advisor to a R.E. license holding company operated by Philip Caputi, Broker, for those realtor agents that perhaps just want to wind down or take a break from the business, but do not want to give up their registration.