How to become a real estate agent in Canada

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Start a new career in 6 steps

UPDATE: This how to become a real estate agent post was originally published on 26 February 2019 and was updated on 26 February 2020 and 28 October 2020.

If you enjoy meeting new people and like having control of your work/life balance, a career as a real estate agent might be perfect for you. In this post, we’ll describe how to become a real estate agent in Canada.

Part of your role as a real estate professional will be to meet with purchasers, listen to their requirements — their likes, dislikes, needs, style preferences, etc. — and help them find a property that matches their specifications. You’ll work with the listing agent (if it’s not you) to arrange property viewings, negotiate with the seller and help finalize the sales process.

The other part of the job entails meeting with those looking for an agent to list and sell their properties. You’ll need to inspect the property, list it in your various advertising mediums (online MLS portal, website, magazine, newspaper etc.), show it to interested buyers and prepare the various purchase documents and legal contracts to finalize the sale.

Buying and selling homes can be a tedious and lengthy process that might leave some dizzy. But with an organized work schedule and proper client-management skills, you can make life as a real estate agent a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

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How to get into the real estate industry in Canada

Becoming a real estate agent who can legally buy and sell property in Canada is fairly straightforward and involves these 6 steps.

  1. Begin your real estate certification.
  2. Join a brokerage agency.
  3. Apply for licensing and take the licensing exam.
  4. Get errors and omissions insurance.
  5. Complete an articling/professional practice.
  6. Get your first clients.

The following steps provide a general overview of what is required to become a real estate agent in Canada, from licensing requirements to supervised training and articling. Let’s dive in!

Start selling property in 6 steps

To start, there are several prerequisites you must satisfy before start training for work in the real estate industry. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Have graduated grade 12.
  • Be a citizen of Canada.

Some provinces have more stringent application requirements, including pre-application articling experience, preparatory coursework, background checks and more. For more information about what is required to work in the real estate industry in your province, specifically, simply click on the provincial link in this article.

1. Begin your real estate certification

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Online Classes
Many real estate classes can be taken online at your convenience.

The first step in the process is successfully completing the basic real estate licensing course in your province. Each province administers their own certification courses through sanctioned real estate councils or association boards.

For instance, British Columbia provides real estate education through UBC Sauder’s Real Estate Division. Manitoba, on the other hand, offers training through the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA). Each province handles educational certification in a different manner from the others.

While education requirements, institutes and courses vary between provinces, the basic real estate licensing requirements appear to be fairly consistent across the board.

2. Join a brokerage agency

Next, you’ll need to find an agency to sponsor your real estate license application. You’ll want to meet with various brokers to find the ideal fit. Ask questions about their work style, agency setup and brokerage fee structure.

The goal is to find an agency that accommodates your work habits and adheres to a reasonable fee structure.

Since you’ll likely work with this agency for at least your first couple of years, you’ll want to make sure that you enjoy the work environment and staff. If there are any aspects you’re unsure about, address and resolve them now so they don’t become an issue later on.

3. Apply for licensing and take the licensing exam

With your new-found agency to sponsor your application, it is time to submit your application for a real estate license. While licensure varies across provinces, most provinces require a written licensing exam in order to receive your real estate license.

If your application is approved, you’ll need to pay your licensing fee. In some provinces, you could also be required to become a member of a professional organization and pay applicable dues.

4. Get errors and omissions insurance

In order to become a fully licensed real estate agent, you’ll need to get errors and omissions insurance through your province’s real estate association. This will insure you against any mistakes, damage or other mishaps that might happen while on the job.

5. Complete an articling/professional practice

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Woman with Mentor
Articling is a period of training supervised by a professional mentor.

Upon approval of your real estate license, many provinces expect the new real estate agent to complete certain articling educational requirements.

This is essentially a period of supervised training where the freshman real estate agent receives mentorship from a more senior professional in the real estate industry — most likely with their chosen brokerage agency.

6. Get your first clients

Once you’ve finished your articling period, it’s time for you to hit the pavement and get your first real estate client. Here are some tips that might help:

Take advantage of the tools your real estate association provides

You’ll need to gain access to your local multiple listing service (MLS) portal so that you can post properties online. Additionally, you should rent several lockboxes from your brokerage or realty association so you can provide easy access to your listed properties.

Advertise your services

Even though your budget might be tight starting out, you’ll need to invest in some basic advertising. This should, at a minimum, include:

If you have a larger advertising budget, you could invest in online ads, radio spots and even search engine optimisation (SEO).

Become well-known and liked in your community

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Man Unlocking a Front Door
Delight your first clients and more will follow.

The best kind of marketing is relationship marketing. This is based on the premise that people who know you are more inclined to trust you to provide a high level of service.

Even if you have active marketing campaigns, you should still invest time in becoming well- known in your community.

  • Go to your local chamber of commerce meetings.
  • Host a community BBQ.
  • Sponsor a sporting event.
  • Go knocking door-to-door with a free pen or fridge magnet.

All of these things will help people put a face to the ads, so that next time they move or buy, you’re the first person they call.

Related: House rules — adapting to the new real estate reality

That’s how to become a real estate agent

This short post has outlined the general steps required by most provinces to start a career in the real estate industry, from licensing requirements to insurance needed to work in the real estate industry. While various provinces differ in the specifics, these are the steps most commonly followed to get a real estate certification in Canada.

A career in real estate can prove to be a rewarding one and offers many benefits, including the ability to set your own schedule, work with a high-energy group of professionals and continually interact with new people. If your personality fits this description, a career as a real estate professional might be the perfect fit for you.

Why not give it a shot?