Building a Career in Real Estate

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From a mere 291 in October 2016 to a whopping 258,054 employees in March 2021, the number of real estate employees keeps increasing with no decline in sight.   

The real estate industry in Canada is a hot market, employing hundreds of thousands of people. As fascinating as the designation sounds, an immense amount of hard work goes into maintaining that designation and earning a living. Real Estate Agents or Sales Representatives are key employees in the industry who ensure that you get your dream home. Immigrant Muse spoke with four realtors who are also immigrants to learn more about starting and growing a career as a realtor.  

“In real estate, you are your boss. I am not reporting to anyone; I am only accountable to myself; my success and failure only depend on me”, says Akhil Shah, a Real Estate Sales Representative at ReMax Centre in Orangeville. Akhil had a progressive career as a pharma sales representative in Ontario for over eight years before being laid off during the pandemic. “That’s when I made up my mind to explore real estate. I knew it was a good career, but I was not confident. The pandemic allowed me to explore an unexplored field”, he reveals.  

Dhwani Modi, Real Estate Sales Representative/Realtor associated with SaveMax Dream Home Realty based in Ontario, came to Canada in June 2019 and became a realtor in September 2020. Dhwani, who was into media and sales back in her home country, says, “real estate is also sales. Initially, many told me that real estate is a seasonal business; who will purchase homes in winter? But that is not the case; real estate is a flourishing business all year round.”  

Angelo Dehideniya, Real Estate Agent, Vancouver of Renanza Realty in British Columbia, never thought of exploring the real estate industry. After his undergraduate study in criminology, he wasn’t sure which direction to go. He explored different fields in various sectors before stumbling upon real estate and has never looked back.  

If you are considering a career in real estate, Keval Shah, a broker of record and CEO of SaveMax Dream Home Realty based in Ontario, said, “with the right set of platforms, the earning potential in real estate is infinite. If you are an excellent real estate agent, you could be making a six-figure plus salary annually.”

Employment Opportunities in Real Estate

According to Akhil, “there are around 38,000 real estate agents in Ontario, and approximately 50 per cent are non-functional. So, you have to be different to stand out in the market.” Irrespective of your educational background, you can become a real estate agent in Canada after getting your license. However, you’re required to have some basic education to qualify for the licensure. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)’s website shows that a real estate license opens up the following career opportunities:  

  • Residential Realtors  
  • Commercial Real Estate   
  • Real Estate Appraisers  
  • Property Management  
  • Property Development  
  • Financing   
  • Urban Planning

Licensure and Training

Each province has its own licensing body, as shown in the table below.

ProvinceLicensing Body
Alberta The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) 
British Columbia BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) 
Manitoba Manitoba Real Estate Association 
New Brunswick The New Brunswick Real Estate Association  
Newfoundland and Labrador NL Association of Realtors
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission 
Nunavut Consumer Affairs, Government of Nunavut 
Ontario Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) 
Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) 
Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) 
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission  
Quebec Organisme d’Autoréglementation du Courtage Immobilier du Québec (OACIQ) 
Real estate licensing bodies across Canada

Although the fundamentals for licensing in each province remain the same, there are a few differences between the requirements. Potential realtors should keep in mind that the license of one province will not be considered valid for practice in another province.  

The licensure fees range between $3,000 to $7,500. There are several schools and colleges associated with the governing body of each province that offers courses in the real estate market to help pass the examination and obtain the license.   

The real work begins after licensure. In agreement, Akhil says, “the work you put into becoming a realtor doesn’t end after licensure; it starts after getting the license. Join a brokerage where you can have proper training. Real estate is neither easy nor hard. But you have to know that unless people trust you, they will not sell or buy their homes from you. If immigrants have an appetite for real estate, they should go for it. But there’s a lot of hard work involved.” 

Earning Potential 

“While there’s no fixed income for a realtor, you can make from zero to over $1,000,000 a year depending on the number of units you can sell. In the end, it is a game of patience and persistence”, says Angelo.  

On the real estate market in Ontario, Keval says, “the housing prices have gone up. Commission structure has been prevailing ever since, and the rewards are phenomenal. In which field do you get paid $40,000 to $50,000 for just selling a house? A real estate agent can do no fixed number of deals in a year; however, depending on the expertise and hard work, a beginner can close between 1 to 3 sales in one year. The number goes up for those who have been in this field for years”, Keval added.  

Akhil notes, “it’s a commissioned job. You sell; you get paid. You also incur a lot of expenses. As a realtor, you have to work through a brokerage and pay the brokerage. To keep your license active, you have to pay fees to the real estate board every two years.” 

Challenges of the profession 

Keval reveals, “the most challenging part of this job is that it requires full commitment because you work round the clock, but it is rewarding.” Real estate is not for you if you fancy working from 9 to 5. Being a realtor is a job with no fixed hours.    

While describing the challenges, Akhil comments, “first and major challenge as a realtor is networking. You have to find your leads. Will you be able to do that? Ask yourself this question. If you can’t generate leads or sell anything, your earnings would be zero. If a deal falls apart, you can’t make anything out of it.”   

Dhwani explains that “when a person is buying a home, it is a lifetime investment costing hundreds of thousands (of dollars), no client finalizes at one go. I have shown 50 to 60 properties to a client before he finalized on one home. So, you can’t lose patience. There are thousands of realtors in the market, your competition is huge, and you have to apply strategies accordingly to make a client choose you over the other realtors.”   

Dhwani further adds, “the biggest challenge, in my opinion, is clients. Each client is different. Finding a client and converting them into a deal is the biggest challenge. My brokerage provides me with potential leads whom I have to convert into clients.”    

To get leads, Angelo says, “several companies provide leads to realtors, but I generate my leads. On average, I call around 5 to 10 leads a day, and the conversion rate is only 2 to 3% after calling around 40 leads a month. It takes about a year to understand the market and sell more units. For starters, the market is very competitive. I got my license in 2016, and in the first two years, I didn’t close any deals, but in 2021, I closed nine deals.”  

Angelo continues, “there are a lot of real estate agents in the market; for people to reach you, you have to be innovative and creative to get clients. Newbies must ace social media and be tech-savvy.” Angelo has his website and goes knocking from door to door for leads. He doesn’t stick to just one strategy. He further advises new realtors “to try different avenues and go out of their comfort zones.”    

Final Words of Advice 

These realtors share a final word of advice with new and potential realtors based on their experience. 

Angelo advises, “when it comes to choosing between brokerages, take some time. Don’t go by the fees you have to pay; go with a good brand and a good brokerage with proper training in place. Training is critical in real estate. Real estate is not just about selling or buying houses; there’s a lot of paperwork involved. One mistake, and the board can nail you.” 

Keval says, “working in the right atmosphere decides your growth as a real estate agent. When hiring a real estate agent, I look for their energy, motivation, communication skills, and personality. These are the basic traits that several brokers of records and I look for when hiring one”.  

Akhil believes that “experience or no experience in real estate doesn’t matter because several companies have their training programme that will teach you everything about real estate and things you will be required to do”.   

Dhwani suggests, “if you don’t have a specific career choice, or you’re struggling in Canada, then you can pursue a career in real estate. Getting your license is not that difficult; the real struggle begins on the field. How you talk to a client, how you deal with the client, your knowledge about real estate, give suggestions to clients, because they are solely relying on you and your knowledge.” 

Remember that your drive, personality, and the right mentor in real estate can help you succeed, despite some of the initial rejections you may experience. 

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