By Jeff Stern

We just don’t know how lucky we are in Winnipeg.

In Winnipeg, we have 1,800 or so registered Realtors, members of WinnipegRealtors, none of whom are allowed to have an occupation outside of real estate. They, as well as all Manitoba  registrants, also must attend mandatory continuing education every single year to keep on top of legal and regulatory changes that ultimately can impact home buyers and sellers.



Sounds good, right? Like the province is making sure you’re getting trained, dedicated professionals? That’s not how it is in the rest of the country though!

Throughout Canada, people can be real estate agents part-time and serve coffee at a local Starbucks or drive a cab on the side. There, it’s possible to be treated as just another job. How they juggle their professional responsibilities and get all the paperwork done is beyond me. At their convenience between jobs, perhaps? I don’t know. They may be good at what they do, but are they a dedicated professional someone can rely on? In Manitoba at WinnipegRealtors, being a Realtor is a profession we take seriously.

“Why is that lucky for us?” someone asked me.

I answered by telling them about the time I was shopping for a fridge. I went to a big multi-product place and spoke with the overbearing saleswoman there. I made it clear that I had the exact measurements of the space it needed to fit into and of the space it needed to get through to make it to its spot in the kitchen.

“It’ll fit,” she said, showing me the “one for me”.

I looked at the towering double-wide monster and knew at first glance there was no bloody way it would get in.

“I’m telling you, it’ll fit.” She was adamant.

I told her the measurements again. Frustrated with my unwillingness to go along to get along, she grabbed a measuring tape and held it out to me.

My arm was in a sling from having just broken my shoulder. I was still in a lot of pain. I wondered if she was crazy or just blind, if she was expecting me to do all the bending and measuring, which really is her job to begin with. She was a pushy thing though, and before I knew it I was holding one end of the tape while she held the other.

After confirming its measurements, she insisted, “See? It will fit!”

I still didn’t think it would but was argument weary and decided to trust her. Besides, she should know what she’s talking about, right? She was the sales manager, after all.

Later that day, the delivery guy arrived. Before unloading, he came in to size up the delivery path.

He walked in, barely glimpsed the waiting space, and simply said, “Won’t fit.”

“She said it would,” I said.

“I don’t care what the…”

Well, he used some expletives to describe his feelings about the sales manager, and his desire to not discuss that or anything else with her.

The fact is, she sold rugs, furniture, lamps and appliances, specializing in none of them. Clearly she didn’t know what the heck she was doing.

There is an element of convenience, I suppose, in big-box service centres that let you buy socks and underwear while getting a root canal, but dedicated specialists get it done with precision and professional quality.

That’s what the Realtor structure in Manitoba offers homeowners and home buyers that the rest of Canada isn’t guaranteed – dedicated professionals who make real estate their single focus and career. The most knowledgeable service you’ll ever get is from someone who specializes in what they’re doing.


Update, August 8, 2018: This story was updated from the original version, which stated the part-time rule applied to all Manitoba Realtors. In fact it only applies to WinnipegRealtors members.

Jeff Stern, a 27-year real estate veteran with Re/Max Performance Realty in Winnipeg, received the 2017 CMHC/MREA Distinguished Realtor Award. He is an instructor for the Provincial Real Estate Licensing program, a member of the Education Committee and sits on the Professional Standards Investigation and Hearing Committee at MREA. He gives back to the community as chair of the MREA Shelter Foundation and writes stimulating and enlightening articles on his blog. The opinions expressed are those of Jeff Stern and not the Manitoba Real Estate Association.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s face it; part-timers—for the most part—are skimmers with one toe in the water looking for an easy financial hit here-and-there when circumstances allow for that to happen. Part-timers are not in it as their life’s work or as the foundation for their financial existence; they are opportunistic gamblers waiting for the big hit…the icing on the cake… the hoped-for boost to their other-job earnings. Thus, they do not qualify as being professionals; they are amateurs…masquerading as professionals. Real professionals live and breathe real estate; they strive for excellence on a full-time basis; they give it their all…all of the time…not just now and then. Part-timers do not devote themselves full time to the secondary job at hand; they just get around to it now and then when time away from other things more important allows for throwing out the lure again like a can’t-swim fisherman (sitting in a deck chair on the banks of a stream looking to snag a wayward lunker) who will not learn to swim and invest in a boat to go after the bigger, harder-to-catch-and-land fish far offshore in the deeper waters….where the pros fish.

    I just write stuff now and then on this site as the spirit moves me. I am an amateur commentator without compensation, as are all other commentators herein. If I want to become a professional I must get a full-time job writing for a publication on a daily basis for a salary. I must dedicate my time and energy to that objective if I am to become a professional writer, but I don’t want to expend that much time or energy to do so…so…I remain an amateur. I submit a piece here and there, now and again, because it is more convenient for ‘me’, but for no one else…and that is my point.

    There ought to be a full disclosure clause in every listing and/or representation agreement regarding a Realtor’s full-time-part-time status. It’s either one or the other, and the consumer should have the right to know with whom they are dealing…a professional or a skimmer. After all, a house is on the market for sale full time, and a buyer is looking for a property full time. Do not Realtors hate it when they find out that their clients are not fully engaged in the process and that their commissions might be in jeopardy?

    There is no such thing as a part time professional, but there are part time amateurs who can often convince naive consumers that they are professionals by way of the utterance of mere words. That would make them professional spin doctors, and spin doctors cannot be professional Realtors. But they can be professional politicians…you know…those slippery beings who are very good at talking out of both sides of their mouths at one and the same time…which effectively makes them liars.

    Professional Realtors are not liars. Part-timers are lying to themselves, first and foremost, when they try to convince themselves that they are professionals (in order to convince the public that they are what they know they are not).

    I wrote and submitted this offering at 12:05 PM last night…because it was convenient for me to do it then. I am not a professional, and I don’t care when I write this stuff. I am an amateur, and I like it that way. No one is dependant on my literary efforts. I am responsible to no one, because I am not a professional…but by my mere words I might appear to be one to a naïve reader who for the first time happens to read this publication…were it not for my full disclosure to facts.

    You professionals get my point, don’t you?

    • Follow up to my August 14 diatribe…

      12:05 PM should read 12:05 AM. Duuugghh! But I was a little tired after all, which makes me an amateur who writes stuff when not fully awake.

      Brian (I-don’t-wanna-job-because-I-like-retirement-too-much) the amateur

  2. Jeff: There are lots of interesting comments from many agents across Canada regarding your article. Jeff, I would be interested in hearing some replies from you or your Board regarding some of these comments. For example: Do you and your Board consider the other occupation policy anti-competitive? If not why not?
    Are there any Realtors in Winnipeg that are part time agents that have not been reported by their peers? Would you personally report an agent in your office that was working part time? Should the Winnipeg Board only be selective based on those working part and reported by members, realizing there are many others working part time that will not be reported by membership? Exactly how many Realtors that are working part time have been reported by the public (consumers)? Do you really believe that the consumers care if an agent is working part time provided they are doing a good job? Has your broker knowingly hired any part time agents and would you report your broker to the Board if that was the case? If 5% of the agent in Winnipeg were part time agents, would this really make a difference to your personal income? Is it not possible for some Canadians to work two or more jobs successfully? Jeff I am not attacking you personally, but I am attacking the policy. You and I have had many discussions over the years regarding real estate issues, but this policy is wrong and out dated and should be removed so the Winnipeg Board is following the same CREA codes that other Boards in Canada are required to adhere to and is not an exception to the rule.

    • There is no “part time rule”. It is “another occupation rule” If you have another business and don’t get paid & just collect dividends from your company it appears thats OK. There are lots of agents in Winnipeg that work “part ime” and have no ” other occupation” .

      If I have long blond hair and sing in a band is that OK? I am sure I would get paid for it.

      The rule is a farce

  3. What a sloppy piece of journalism. There is no evidence given to back up the claim, only an example of someone who is incompetent at their job. If you compare Regina and Winnipeg, Winnipeg has approximately 4 times as many agents who do 4 times as many transactions on houses with an average sale price that is almost identical to Regina’s. i.e. the same average amount of income for agents betwen the two cities. Regina allows part time agents and Winnipeg doesn’t (supposedly). Are the full-time agents in Winnipeg satisfied not making a full-time wage?
    “Full time” agents include those who are retired and travel a good part of the year and agents who have extensive family, board and community commitments – as long as they don’t have a job they can’t leave at a moment’s notice – yet you don’t have to be able to leave your other commitments to perform a transaction. I’ve met several people at open houses who supposedly have an agent, but they are out looking on their own because their “full time” agent is too busy for them or won’t be back from winter vacation for 2 months. Doing a professional job is related to how much time and effort you are willing to invest in your clients individually rather than in aggregate.

  4. Really i have owned a mortgage brokerage for 30 years and have held a real estate licence for 25 years. I do both simultaneously and do it quite well. I challenge anyone to consider me a part timer. .

  5. If someone chooses part time Real Estate that is their business….however with BC Real Estate so strong on Disclosure…the Consumer has a right to know if the Realtor is working part time with another employer…therefore the Realtor should disclose this so the consumer can choose to move forward and hire them or not

  6. Name me another profession that disallows a professional from simultaneously taking on a second occupation. Totally illegal and unconstitutional. Someday some REALTOR in Flin Flon is also going to want to sell life insurance; he’ll be prosecuted; he’ll appeal all the way to the Supreme Court; and he’ll win.

    • Actually the guy in Flin Flon can sell life insurance or do any other job. It is only Winnipeg that has “the other occupation rule” . It should be up to the brokers who they wish to hire, not the Board.

      • Yes, I just saw the article Update. Flin Flon is safe (for the time being). Agree on your hiring note. In the meantime, Realtors in Winnipeg apparently can’t sit on City Council, w
        rite non-real-estate-related articles for which they get paid, lecture for a fee at the local University on “foreign” topics, run the family farm when Dad gets sick, etc. Good luck enforcing this.

  7. I personally totally agree. How can someone be allowed to get a real estate license when they already have a full-time job. I do not think that real estate should be a part-time hobby when you are helping the public with thier largest financial investment. Many part time agents only do 1 or 2 deals a years, submit sloppy paperwork and are not clear on the current rules or terms. Many large franchise offices hire as many agents as they can just to collect the fees almost like landlords. The public perception of a REALTORS® is they all have the same training and knowledge. This is not the case in Alberta with over 50% only being part-time. Would you feel confident hiring a Lawyer, Dentist or Accountant if you knew they had a different full-time job and only did this other job 1 or 2 times a year but expected the same pay as the full-time professionals? If REALTORS® want to be looked at as professionals, then in my opinion they need to treat the job as professionals and only be full-time. The public deserves to get proper educated advice and someone that is dealing with real estate as their only career. If this same policy was put in place in Calgary it would clear out 50 to 75% of the current agents in the marketplace. I think it is about time that other provinces followed the Manitoba example.

  8. In Winnipeg their are many part time agents, but they are never reported by their peers. Many years ago in Winnipeg I wanted to bring my wife into my small boutique real estate brokerage business as a sales associate. She was a teacher at the time. The answer by the Winnipeg board was NO since she had another occupation. Think about it. It was my business and I couldn’t even bring a family member into my business as a sales associate because of their part time ruling. Now at the time I was a small real estate office, while my competitors had 50 to 100 agents in their offices. Of course they were all full time professionals. Ha Ha! There are thousands of part time agent in the real estate business in Canada and a few in Winnipeg. It should be up to the brokers to decide whether or not they are prepared to hire a part time agent. Many part time agents will fail and drop out of the real estate business, while many part time agents will succeed, quit their other job and become successful professional Realtors. I’ll even bet that some of the part time Realtors are the top agents in their office. So should real estate boards be in the business of restricting part time agents? I say NO. Leave it to the brokers and owners of each office. It seems to work across Canada so why can’t it work in Winnipeg. I challenge the Winnipeg board to do away with their part time policy and join the real world. Why keep it a secret!

    PS. I am a retired real estate broker enjoying my life at the lake with lots of spare time to reply to Jeff’s article.

    David Davidson

  9. That’s plain dumb. It’s like saying a mom can’t be a good mom if she also works outside the home. After all “part time” moms are bad right? Or “part time” dads are certainly bad right? Come on …typical male. Who says a “hours clocked in the office, on the showing route , listing presentations, or pushing out emails are all good full time hours spent being a realtor? It’s a profession that is really 24 /7 like parenthood. Your often thinking about ways to better serve and more efficiently serve clients because you have less time to waste… I spend a very efficient 25-30 hours a week and make 3 times average full time wage in Canada. 85%referral and return business… my clients don’t need nor have the right to know how many hours I also clock being a mom and doing a moms “part time work” ah hem ….What a great profession!!!!!

  10. I think many here are missing the boat on why many agents take on a part-time job, or another full time job. They have taken their licensing courses, spent money to get set up, and are making a go of it. There is no support to help you get started in this industry, other than established agents using your work to make even more money (the 80-20 rule at work) by ‘giving’ you leads. Doctors and lawyers are hired as juniors or interns and paid a very good wage for the work they do. Real estate agents are not. Getting established in the industry is extremely difficult and can take 3, 5 or up to 10 years, and if the market is not strong for some of those years, it can take even longer. The hallmark of a professional organization is that members of the ‘profession’ are looked after by that profession, and if they are competent and hard working, they will make a good living. A profession will also limit the number of new members to ensure that there is not an oversupply which results in lack of work for all members. There may be professional people in the real estate industry, but as the industry’s roots are based in a sales environment, it will likely never be a ‘profession’, as this would require a complete overhaul of the industry including how real estate professionals are compensated, trained, mentored, and supported throughout their careers.

  11. Hi Jeff: It is a anti-competitive ruling and has been challenged in the past by the competition bureau. Winnipeg won their case since the part time ruling had been legislated by the Manitoba Government many many years ago.

    However, Realtors and boards in other parts of Canada should not get excited about taking imposing a part time ruling since they would most likely be challenged by the competition bureau. CREA CODE – “Broker members, their salespersons and non-members are able to determine the nature of their business relationships among themselves. With regard to board and association membership, members may choose for themselves to work full or part time, as long as they remain available to serve the public on a regular basis, and provided provincial enabling legislation does not otherwise authorize limiting such choice.” Winnipeg is an exception. It is a bad ruling and as an retired broker of 40 years with the Winnipeg board I found it a very ANTI-COMPETITIVE policy.

    Dave Davidson

  12. Not sure that someone so biased as to how others delegate their working lives and so easily bamboozled by a department store clerk into buying what so obviously was the wrong thing is someone we should give a lot of credence to. Your professionalism whether part time or full time will be reflected in the income you generate. Be honest and fair whether you deal with one person a month or 20 people a day.

  13. Do part time real estate agents disclose that they are a part timer when they are speaking to a prospect or do they try to avoid that subject or worse yet lie to the consumer?

    If you were making a purchase in a different jurisdiction how important would it be to work with a dedicated full time agent ?

    • My guess is that many part timers have their clients aware of their situation. Lots of them are doing the “family and friends” trades in which case the clients obviously know the situation. I see that all the time

  14. The average realtor in Winnipeg does 9 ends a year. This is consistent with most boards across the country. Do you consider a 9 end year to be “full-time”? I know several “part-timers” who do more than that competently and effectively.

    Professionalism is about ethics and behaviour. It’s not about dumbing it down to part timers versus full timers.

    • In Calgary the average is 4.7 deals a year and probably even less than that over the last year or so. When you take into account the 80/20 rule that tells you that many Agents are less than the 4.7 deals more like 1 or 2 or even 0. I do not feel that these agents are properly qualified to be assisting people with their largest investment when they are not even doing the job on a consistent basis.

  15. My feelings are mixed on this one. I know some very good part-time Realtors who are better and more knowledgeable than some full-time Realtors . But generally speaking, they simply cannot dedicate the amount of time to the profession as a full-time realtor. Now, saying that most full-time Realtors, work only part-time hours! But that’s a whole other story.
    In my opinion the larger problem is, most of these pay per deal and discount brokerages. They are simply enabling Realtors who do very little business to continue being licensed. There is no way that these brokerages can offer good education and services when they’re collecting only three or four hundred dollars per deal. Eliminate most of these offices, and you would eliminate most of the Realtors who are doing very little business.
    I have thought for a number of years, one way to eliminate any Realtors that to not do a substantial amount of business is to charge an annual fee. Let’s say every licensed realtor in Ontario had a $7,000 annual fee. Realtors that are working, can absorb this cost. Realtors that are doing one or two deals per year, arguably the realtors that should not be in the business, would not pay this fee. This, would eventually eliminate all Realtors who do not take the profession seriously.

  16. Thank YOU! I have been saying this for 32 years – NO to Part-time realtors, they do NOT give our industry any credibility!
    Question – What do you do for a living – “Oh, I’m a full-time teacher, but I also have a “T-shirt” making business, a band & sell real-estate part-time”. What does that say about our industry?

    I’ve always been opposed to part-time realtors, but if they are allowed in your office they should have to put “Part-time” on all business cards & advertising. The public needs to be aware that should they choose to deal with this person they are dealing with a “Part-timer” who may not be up to date on all documentation, forms of advertising or negotiating skills. They will not be there for you a 100% of the time. Part-time realtor, part-time results, part-time service!

      • I agree
        I have been a licensed realtor in Ontario for 35 years and cannot imagine ever holding another job while practicing real estate.
        As a realtor you are being entrusted with ones (your clients ) possibly largest decision in their life in terms of money and family well being .
        Would you put your body in the hands of a part time surgeon???
        Or lawsuit against you or to your benifit in the hands of a part time litigator

        Part time realtors are a joke.

  17. Wow this conversation is still going on? I have been in Real Estate for 30 years now (started part time) and have been hearing this since I started. I have both full time and part time Realtors in my brokerage and can say it is not whether they are full or part time, it is their work ethic that makes the difference. One of my Realtors sells more of a particular type of commercial property (most selling for several million) in Ontario than anyone yet he has another job. Is he skilled? Unbelievably! Does he work in an ethical manner and put his clients needs above all? Without a doubt.Thats what counts to me as a broker of record, and for his clients. I have also had full time people that I have terminated because of poor work ethic. As for your analagy, it’s silly to be honest comparring your one experience when buying a fridge. How many firefighters are working at Home Depot right now? I know 3 in 1 store. They give me great service in the store and I’m pretty sure they’ll be there for me while at their other job.
    People are people, and when you realize that, and that you are the strongest determining factor in whether you succeed or fail in life you will also understand that most of what you hear is just static. Stay focused, believe in yourself, think outside the box, learn, take risk, and don’t criticize what you don’t understand.

  18. Do you hire a part time surgeon? What if police investigators were part time? Our society would crumble. With BC’s new regulations on representation and agency disclosure the business will benefit part time people because listing agents are challenged to double end and so more buyer agency business will be spread out to more Realtors. Allowing part time Realtors was the first cynical step of the provincial government reflecting their low opinion of our industry. Review BC’s new rules for a taste of further cynical, over-reaching, patriarchal, politically- driven (vote grabbing) regulations and how the government views us. Some of the new rules are good. Many are very poorly thought out and appear to be written by people who never set foot in our industry. Like the part time Realtor rules.

  19. The Greater Toronto area has many part time agents. Often you can’t get a hold of them or they don’t return calls. They lack professionalism which make the rest of us look bad. It takes one bad apple to soil the bunch. Make no mistake there are some unprofessional full time agents as well, but it’s far less. Are there part time doctors or lawyers? Would you go to them if there were? Realtors are suppose to be professionals so why do we allow part time realtors?

  20. the Toronto Real Estate Board had (30 years ago?) a “full time” provision on its books until the government forced the Board to withdraw any “professional” restrictions towards part time sales people. In the age of “Uber”, professionalism is a nuisance. Competition without restriction (slave labour in China) is the “desired” future wished upon us by our politicians.

  21. if we, as an industry are striving to promote Professionalism, disclosure to consumers re: other employment commitments that may interfere with the ability to properly protect and promote client’s best interests. period..

  22. It is all about money. Only thing Regulatory authorities, Training centers and Local boards see is flow of money into their coffers from increased membership. Selling real estate is a profession like any other. You can not be good at it and fully invested in it, if it is just a side gig. My hope is that RECO will eliminate part timers and agents who also double as mortgage agents, soon in ON.

    • Spot on…..the bureaucracies that surround our industry and their EOs directly benefit from increased membership…..much to the detriment of the dedicated full time practitioners.

  23. Mr. Stern is not correct.

    What he is trying to refer to is the “other occupation” rule.

    You can be a part time sales person any where in Manitoba as long as you are licenced with the Security Commission.

    You can be a part time Realtor anywhere in Manitoba as long as you are not a member of the Winnipeg Association. Brokers in Winnipeg can be part time but sales people cannot.

    Doctors, lawyers, nurses etc can have other occupations why not Realtors. The key thing is having the client taken care of and I have seen many “full timers” not look after theirs.

    • You are correct and my reference to “Manitoba” should be “Winnipeg” as only members of WinnipegREALTORS®️ must abide by the Full Time Rule as it is in the Constitution. Members of The Manitoba Real Estate Association, if not members as well of WinnipegREALTORS®️ are exempt from this.

      • There is no rule about working part time. It just says other occupation. What about those that sing in a band or be a school trustee or have a tour company. What about them.

        Just own your own business and only collect dividends to be within the rule. It is a joke. It is anti competitive.

      • There are realtors living in other comunities besides Winnipeg that are members of the Winnipeg Realtors. I live and work in the Interlake and am a member of Winnipeg Realtors.

  24. I personally totally agree. I do not think anyone should be allowed to get a real estate license to supplement the income from their real job. They should be totally focused on helping the public with their largest financial investment. If an agent is only doing 1 or 2 deals a year as a hobby they will not be a top negotiator and usually have sloppy paperwork when they submit an offer missing key items or are not clear on the current rules or terms. Most large franchise offices hire as many agents as they can just to collect the fees almost like landlords. The public perception is all REALTORS® are the same and have the same training and knowledge and this is not the case in Alberta. Would you feel as confident hiring a Lawyer, Dentist, or Accountant if you knew they had a real other full-time job and only did this other job 1 or 2 times a year but expect to be paid the same fee as the full-time professionals? I feel more provinces should adapt the Manitoba rules so that the members of the public are getting the proper full-time knowledgeable agent and representation they deserve. This would clear out over 50% or more of the agents in Calgary and greatly improve the public perception of REALTORS® . If someone gets great service they might tell 1 person, if someone gets bad advice or service they will tell at least 10. All the more reason to only have full-time agents.

  25. I have been saying this about PART TIME AGENTS for over 40 years and it just went to file 13 with nothing done about it. I am glad someone finally did something about it.

  26. I think it’s fair to say that there are bad agents in both categories. The p\t agent that takes on too much and whose other job is too inflexible – the f/t mega agent that has 40 listings over a huge territory and next to no staff or the f/t loser that needs the deal to pay child support.
    If you want to make it about knowledge I’d say that’s more about cont Ed, which in Ontario is a joke though I don’t see f/t agents complaining.
    The analogy used in the article is funny because I see it more as a professionalism and ethics issue. Maybe the sales manager pressured you into buying the fridge because she needed to make ends meet with the commission – and had no other gig to rely on? It’s not that she didn’t know that the fridge wouldn’t fit, she didn’t care. Way more of the ‘bad’ in real estate comes from f/t agents who cut corners, lie to, or pressure clients to make a deal happen because they are chasing the cheque. You may see p/t agents as a thorn in your side but I assure you that the p/t people that don’t bite off more than they can chew have pretty happy clients.

  27. The single worst thing that ever happened in B.C. real estate except perhaps NDP Government was allowing part time REALTORS®. The part time agents for whom real estate is many if not most times a 3rd job, should not be allowed to use the mark REALTOR® as very few can meet the high professional qualifications the mark REALTOR® require. CREA, Provincial Associations and Local Boards should make it mandatory that any part time agents disclose that they are in fact part time agents.

    • Allowing part time agents was a major turning point in BC real estate. There are innumerable examples of clients who were disadvantaged through the actions of Realtors who have demonstrated incompetence and/or unwillingness to act professionally on behalf of those they represent.

      • There is no such thing as being a part time realtor. Whether you are in the fast lane or the slow lane, quality service means one hundred per cent full time. That applies to any profession. No one feels good about being served second best. The client is number one always.

  28. It is about time Ontario woke up and did something about all the part timers, but then again look how RECO does next to nothing to monitor members. Even TREB allows error after error to permeate listings. The only thing RECO ever get energized over is advertising on a virtual tour.

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