What does it take to become a real estate agent?

Real estate is a regulated profession and there are several key steps that aspiring agents must follow to enter the industry.

Real estate agents are registered professionals who are equipped with knowledge and expertise to provide strategic guidance and help consumers to make informed choices.

Generally, as a consumer, you can expect agents to offer a wide array of services and advice, such as sharing their knowledge about housing in specific neighbourhoods, monitoring market trends, offering competitive market analyses, arranging showings, negotiating for the best price and contract terms, and managing paperwork on your behalf.

As well, given that they deal with real estate transactions regularly, agents are qualified to provide other types of information. This could include things like ratings of local schools, zoning permissions, flood plains, and whether certain areas are slated for property developments.

In order to be able to do all this effectively and to be trusted to protect your best interests, all agents have to undergo a rigorous qualification process before they register to trade. 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 has mandatory courses, theory examinations, and simulation sessions where they apply their theoretical knowledge in real-life scenarios with expert facilitators, which helps to prepare agents for different types of transactions.

Once a learner has successfully completed the program, they have to apply to become registered with RECO so that they can begin to trade in real estate. In their first two years of registration, agents are required to complete further in-depth courses in the areas of their particular interest in trading.

Salespeople who are looking to advance their careers to become brokers and ultimately manage brokerages have to complete the real estate broker program. Before applying to take the broker program, a salesperson has to complete a qualifying exam to make sure they fully understand the law as it applies to them as a salesperson.

The real estate broker program includes three steps: courses, exams, and, finally, updating their 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 complete mandatory continuing education (MCE) courses. Because the market is always changing, agents must continue to complete MCE courses every two years throughout their career to maintain and hone their knowledge and skills. These courses provide agents with up-to-date information that focuses on industry issues, leading practices, and regulatory matters.

Purchase insurance coverage. All agents in Ontario – whether salespeople or brokers – are required to participate in RECO’s professional liability insurance program, which includes consumer deposit insurance and coverage for errors and omissions. Consumer deposit insurance protects your deposit and may support the completion of your transaction in the unlikely event that the money is not available upon closing. The program is administered by RECO and can provide protection and confidence throughout the transaction.

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

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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