By Rachel Hammer

Ontario recently took a step in making agent incorporation available to Realtors in that province. It is a hot button issue that has been getting even hotter on social media in the last month. Rather than wait for agent incorporation to become a reality, however, I made the decision to become an affiliated brokerage under Royal LePage Team Realty this year. When asked why, I gave different reasons depending on whether those asking were clients or fellow Realtors.

Incorporation is about more than just managing my business tax effectively. For me, everything in real estate comes down to people. My teammates and I have a unique opportunity to give back to those in the community that matter to us, which is one of the reasons we love what we do. Professionals in our industry rely on representation, respect and building relationships to be able to confidently appreciate the value of real estate. Much of our negotiating power comes from our ability to give our clients the best possible representation; this is a hard thing to promise when one works for one of the largest brokerages in Ottawa and faces multiple representation scenarios as frequently as my team does.

Impartiality is essential when dealing with clients and a Realtor’s ability to place their client’s needs first is impeded when the brokerage’s fiduciary responsibilities are divided between buyers and sellers, or buyers and buyers. Incorporating our own affiliated brokerage has changed the definition of multiple representation for our clients. We are now no longer in multiple representation situations with our local Realtors, but rather only those in our affiliated brokerage, which gives us a better opportunity to represent our clients in the negotiation of their purchase and sale.

But the process of incorporation was a long one and filled with many unexpected challenges. The first step was acquiring approval from my brokerage. Then, in collaboration with the brokerage, we had to open new bank accounts with a financial institution including a trust account, a commission trust account and an expense account under the name of our new affiliated brokerage, Hammer & Associates.

With the help of an accounting firm we went through the steps necessary to create a new business administration, with new accounting software and business number. Then there were all the little administrative changes that had to be made: a new name meant new business cards and presentation materials. We designed and ordered new merchandise. We updated our communication templates. It seemed like every time we turned around we found ourselves asking, “Did we send out the new logo?” All those redesigns came with additional costs and, at times, additional headaches.

But the risk was well worth the reward. The moment when I unveiled Hammer & Associates Brokerage was a truly proud one for me as a Realtor, because I knew it embodied my commitment to my clients and the years I have dedicated to this industry – and that was a feeling that I wish for my fellow Realtors. So I have a few pieces of advice for those wishing to incorporate:

  • Have a good support team. My incorporation would have been impossible without the help of my office administrator, my accountant and my lawyer, keeping track of paperwork and monitoring the whole process.
  • Ask for help! There were many things I didn’t know about the process of incorporation and when I was at a loss, the first person I approached was the broker/manager of Royal LePage Team Realty. Don’t be too proud to seek advice from knowledgeable people in the business.
  • Embrace the opportunity. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is enjoying an ongoing dialogue with my client base and the announcement of our name change was a perfect chance to reach out with our marketing and remind people that we appreciate their business.

No matter your reasons for incorporating, it is a gratifying experience to see your own hard work flourish into a business with your own name on it. In fact, it’s a lot like finding your perfect home, which is something we can all relate to.

Rachel Hammer recently incorporated Hammer & Associates Affiliated Brokerage with Royal LePage Team Realty. She has been building her career in real estate for over a decade. As part of her commitment to organized real estate, she is an appointed board director for the Ottawa Real Estate Board and a volunteer for the Professional Standards and Realtors Care Committees.