stan cropped web“Even Rosie DiManno from the Toronto Star takes a holiday,” said REM editor Jim Adair to me last month! I only wish that I was one-tenth as good as she is, but what the heck, I do these articles for fun! Anyway, what can I say?  I was both on a vacation and somewhat forgetful of my REM deadline and I missed last month’s issue. Several readers took note and emailed me to see if I was okay. Well, dear readers, I am alive and well and enjoying my semi-retired position at my unique office in the heart of North York.

I’ve been doing a lot of research into the lack of success of many of the new registrants/agents who come into the business. My findings are not much different than a lot of readers who echoed my column several months ago: “Come into the business and make a lot of money? Yeah, right.”

Here’s what I’ve found here in Ontario and maybe it’s the same across Canada.

There used to be a rule of thumb that 70 per cent of the business was done by 30 per cent of the agents. Eventually through the last decade, it has evolved that about 90 per cent of all the business on MLS is done by about 10 per cent or less of the members in the Toronto area.

I began my search for answers by questioning managers, brokers and new graduates who have been in the business for less than two years.

Many new registrants have a feeling of entitlement. By that I mean that by choosing certain brokers, they feel that they should get leads and training.  A great many brokers do train. Somehow the education/skills sets that are drilled into them at training sessions is like a band aid on a cut!  They’re overwhelmed, first by the paperwork that is involved.

The education seems ideal for the day, but is totally forgotten by the end of the month. Why? Mostly because the new agents are not accountable. And it’s a two-way street for a number of brokers – they don’t do their jobs to hold the new agents accountable.

I’ve had numerous emails from new agents across Canada who have done only three or four deals over a two-year span.  Now, c’mon, I say to many who I chatted with – how is it that you don’t use/practice the skill sets passed on to you? Most answer that they tried it for a few weeks and decided that cold calls or door knocking “wasn’t for them.”

Too many agents are also coming into the business thinking that they can do it part-time. A few can and do become successful enough to cut the umbilical cord of a monthly paycheque to work at real estate full-time.

I’ve personally taught various skill-sets to more than 1,000 agents over many years. I’ve seen a great number of agents succeed, but not as many as I’d like. The reasons are not much different than those I’ve mentioned.

So, how can we make more of these aspiring agents excited and enthusiastic enough to devote themselves to this business?

With more agents choosing to work from home, it makes the task of enriching their education/skills problematic. Our board in Toronto, the largest in North America, has seen its membership rise to close to 40,000!  And judging from past records, some 4,000 will drop out of the business this year (my estimate).

Maybe the various provincial associations should publish some of the glaring facts – that this is a tough business.

If the agent chooses to make it a career and not a chance to make a mortgage payment or buy a car, we will see the percentage of successful agents go up. When one gets their licence, they should embrace all that the industry has to offer.

I like adjectives beginning with the latter E.  If you’re new, get empowered, educated and enlightened. And then you can say, “Eureka! I’ve struck pay dirt.” But only if you get down and dirty and just do it – and don’t be embarrassed if you fall down or fail a few dozen times. I’m sure our Olympians at Sochi fell down a few times on their way to their success. Have a great spring campaign.

Stan Albert, broker/manager, ABR, ASA at Re/Max Crossroads’ iRealty office in Toronto can be reached for consultation at [email protected]. Stan is now celebrating his 44th year as an active real estate professional.



  1. We think you just need to market different. Especially the new realtors that are out there. Referrals are king. We built a neat tool to do this.

  2. Anyone who is a regular REMonline reader knows where I stand on this issue. The CREAcrats, OREAcrats (Ontario), provincial board ‘o crats and local board ‘o crats all feed off of the constant turnover of failures’-in-waiting annual dues. Greedy large brokerages in large population areas look only at the bottom line and regularly harvest and then dispose of bottom feeders on a predictable rotating basis, quickly replacing same with new bottom-feeders, all of whom have good money to dispose of. The top-heavy ORE money train driven by salaried engineers and fueled by “money-fer-nuthin'” guilty brokerage puppeteers thus just keeps on rolling down the mainline track to ‘their’ banks, only with always different paying passengers on board, month by month, year by year, who finally end up falling out the back door of the caboose. The money train never will run out of fuel until someone or some organization derails the monolith and gives cause for new wannabe Realtors to meet strict entrance guidelines, strict character assessments and strict ongoing field training during the first four years in the business….paid for 50/50 by wannabe’s and their brokerages.

    OREcrats are very good politicians, spouting the good line regarding how they are creating professionalism out of one side of their collective mouth, all the while salaciously luring naive, unqualified wannabe’s non- stop into their sticky tangled web with visions of sugar plums literally jumping out of the great real estate pie-in-the-sky, out of the other side of their mercenary collective cash producing pie hole.

    The real estate powers-that-be are the problem. The failures in waiting are their bastard progeny. The public and the actual good guys/gals in the business (yes, despite the above, there are good ones, just as some kids grow up OK even with bad parents) are exposed to amateurism/incompetence and undeserved sullied reputations as Realtors respectively.

    I keep on saying it: it’s time to get your in-the-trenches act together, hold clandestine meetings and agree to withhold all dues to the well-salaried elites and bankrupt the problem right out of existence. There is no other way to fix the problem short of demanding provincial governments to intervene. Forget that big pie-in-the-sky country club, CREA, and do something instead of just complaining. Actions speak louder than words.

  3. Having read this article, I can clearly see why the real estate industry in Canada is in trouble. The author apparently is indicating that agents should be held accountable for lack of sales and the reason many fail is that they fail to apply what they have learned in training. What training? Here in Alberta, the training is nothing more than a glorified course on what a wonderful career real estate can be. Nothing is taught on how to get leads, how to negotiate transactions and nothing about how to close deals. Further, if anyone should be held accountable, it should be brokers as they only worry about how much they take in from monthly fees charged to their agents. Furthermore, agents are supposed to be independent contractors and yet, the real truth is they work for brokers. They are forced to sign on with brokerages and pay monthly fees and get very little in return. No real practical training or feedback. Just a lot of stress to perform and to produce. Having read reviews of consumers’ experiences with agents in past deals, it is clear that many agents lack any regard for their clients and only focus on obtaining their commissions. No wonder the perception among the public is that agents are no better than car salesmen and are at the bottom the totem pole. Until training is improved and work is done to change the stereo type of what an agent is in the eyes of the public, I see no hope for this industry. Perhaps that is why many home owners go it alone or sell their homes as for-sale-by-owners. After all, who wants to pay an agent a lot of money to do something that anyone with no training can do, buy or sell a home.

    • Not sure what happens in Alberta, but here in Ontario:
      – The courses taken to get a RE license, in my opinion, have material that will keep the agent from either getting fined or going to jail. They’re not focused on how one might run their business or get the most leads. Frankly, I don’t think the agencies are qualified to offer the type of business courses necessary for instructing agents on where to invest their resources. I do, however, agree that the agents should be better informed of the drop-out rate of new registrants.
      – The brokerage ‘owns’ the client relationship; ie the seller/buyer signs the paperwork with the brokerage. The agent is responsible for cultivating the relationship on behalf of the brokerage.
      – There are thousands of brokerages – if one doesn’t like what a particular brokerage offers the agents in terms of services, one should find a brokerage that offers something more in line with what is required.
      – I can’t think of many professions that are based on commission that aren’t disparaged. Lawyers, financial brokers, businesses – we all take shots at the people that charge us money. I like the fact that people can list their own homes – I don’t think it will be too long before the common perception of what is involved in selling a house changes. I hope that the industry does shed many part-time RE agents; not because I don’t care about the agents themselves, but because the worst agents I meet are the ones that do the business part-time and give really poor service to their clients.

  4. I think it starts from the top down. Most brokerages now provide outstanding training, mentorship and coaching programs at the cost of the owners of these brokerages (thank you to those owners). Still there are many that don’t. Go higher up though, to the boards who license these individuals and look at the criteria. There is no requirement to be in the business full time or part time, no apprentice hour requirements like other trades. Articling courses do NOT have any hours of actual real estate experience attached to it, personally, I believe to pass articling phase you should have a minimum number of transactions completed and signed off by your brokerage. No practical skill requirements in 2 years…’s your license though. This allows a TON of part time unqualified agents into the business which brings the failure rate higher. Everyone knows that Toronto is FILLED with part time sales representatives…so which brokerages are “allowing” them to work from it and more importantly why does the board not require a minimum standard number of sales per agent per year to keep a license?. A great accountability tool would be to have a minimum number as a requirement per year. How’s about a “business” course with “agent finances” provided in the very first phase so reps know and can prepare. It’s saddening to see so many sales reps get shocks they didn’t know about…. “Sorry can’t cold call cause of the do not call list, sorry can’t talk to FSBO’s cause they are Mere Postings now, Oh oh don’t talk to expired listings cause we aren’t allowed that either”…but good luck and best of success! Some times the failure also lies within the ones who are restricting us from helping us get started in the business…and those of us in the business know where that comes from and it’s a whole different conversation.

    • Mary-Anne and Brent H. I think you have made wonderful points. The individuals commenting on this article have been in the business for a very long time. They feel they can pass judgement on the new agents without realizing what this current environment is offering new agents. I am all for hard work and knocking on doors, I have been in successful sales roles was major tier one companies for over 20 years. But the way you obtain leads in today’s environment is very very different; they are so many privacy laws that have now come into place; with no phone calling; emailing and yes even knocking on someone door. I totally agree that the criteria to become a real estate sales representative needs to be adjusted; I believe articling should be more practical; seriously if I have to read one more time on how our common laws have developed through our history or about the British North American Act….come on….I think that our boards are too lazy to put together a truly practical based educational process which should include how to generate leads leads in this industry; how to take a client through the listing process…and I mean actually going through the process not just reading about it in a glorified text box or class that costs $500 a pop. And the reason why most people are part time; this is the one industry that has the most fees and highest fees I have seen; from the outrageous brokerage fees; to the many levels of boards we have to support through our fees; and courses that teaches Metes and Bounds…which you will never use…..someone is making money in this industry and no its not the new agents. I came into this industry because I love people; I have seen how my parents home was sold and I was totally disgusted by how the process was treated….I want to make a difference and yes I have all the E required…but really some support would be nice!! And don’t even get me going on the lack of brokerage guidelines and requirements they should be following with new agents….that is another essay.

      • There are problems in the industry, and your statement “someone is making money in this industry and no its not the new agents” is very appropriate. A problem that nobody is willing to tackle; there are too many Realtors for too few listings. Why not tackle it? Because more Realtors = more fees! Why would nobody want to deal with that realty? Maybe the people in charge prefer volume over quality?

        Possible ideas; the ideas above, and make it harder to get/keep a license, charge us 3 times more. Make being a Realtor harder and a well respected profession. Redoing the roadmap versus continuously filling in the pot holes on a bad road sometimes make more sense.

        We keep whining about how tough it is, and it is. Business 101 speaks a lot about the time and effort it takes to be an independent business owner, and you need to deal with that reality when you start a business. It goes without saying that training, business knowledge, hard work, commitment to clients, and great service are critically important in the success of any business, and real estate is no exception.

        Another important point is that we are dealing with the largest purchase/sale most Canadians will make in their lifetime. It may be paying for their retirement, kids going to school, medical bills, or future vacations. Some people in the business have a sense of entitlement to their share of someone else’s pie. It always amazes me when the shoe switches to the other foot, and people in real estate get bent out of shape about paying a few extra dollars for anything.

        There is a huge public perception issue about Realtors, and it is not going to change unless new thinking, new norms, and new expectations become reality. We are here to serve the public, and like any other business, we have to constantly show and prove our added value.

  5. Hey Ross,
    I was not sure of the stats here in Ottawa, so I did some looking via MLS data for January and February. Here is what I cam up with, and I am not sure it is consistant with the board, just my numbers. For residential and condos only, it shows100% of ends done by 41% of the unique Realtor ID’s in the board.

    • Only pay attention to the last set of numbers, I was correcting as I went, and thought I was deleting the previous set. Obviously not! The numbers are for the OREB, January / February 2014, and the total number of OREB members is 3027 as of today.

      • Mark,
        If you want to have some fun with unique IDs from OREB data, try to find the highest market share one single agent or team has, in any community in the board’s jurisdiction during 2013 for the year. You will find out some interesting facts.

        “I stand by what I say.”

  6. We are trying something a bit different to ensure the success of our new agents. Stan mentioned that some get training but few are held accountable. Century 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc. launched Success Trak, which is a year long training program and is mandatory for agents that join us. Here is the accountability from yesterday’s class.
    The class yesterday was a bit smaller due to march break about 50 something people. Between classes they found 186 leads and if 1 in 4 work out they should of had 46 things. They had 20 listings taken which will turn into deals and 28 sales, 48 things.
    We are fortunate to have one of the premier Real Estate Sales Coach, Rob Vivian leading this program which is exclusive to Century 21 Leading Edge Realty. We believe so strongly in training and accountability that the company picks up the tab, and as a result our agents pick up more cheques.
    Paul Baron
    Broker of Record
    Century 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc

  7. Some folks can’t handle the freedom. I’m 5 years in, it was really tough to be “on my own” and still do what counts. I managed, having a high desk fee helped. I also worked in an office who have most of the top producers in the area. I helped them and took leads, paid referrals. Other agents, in my board, who weren’t doing as well criticized me but here I am 5 years later making a decent living.
    Another reason folks don’t make it. The pyramid of useless organization, boards and associations draining the accounts of new registrants is brutal. It would be different if they had a purpose however the more you look at these “clubs” there thieves plain and simple.

    • I couldn’t agree more,the endless demands for payment from the various “clubs” who provide little or nothing of value is very demotivational indeed

      • Frank, since you mentioned it, the irony in your statement parallels that of many in the general public who think we provide “little or nothing of value” for ridiculously high fees.

        Without getting into brokerage fees because they are all sorts of different models from which we can choose, our board, OREA and RECO fees in Ontario are hardly high.

        I personally don’t have a problem paying those fees to TREB which I think is worth every dime, or to RECO for oversight, or even my brokerage’s fees, it was my choice to sign onto their banner after all. The one caveat is that I didn’t have a problem paying OREA’s dues either except now with RECO having co-opted all education, I think OREA needs to show why they remain viable.

        • PED, It does sound rather ironic doesn’t it !
          Let me clarify my position,I don’t expect anything for nothing I am happy to pay my share however I do expect value for my money and I can’t say I am getting that.

  8. Yes and yes, but! Way too many individuals come into the business in relation to the number of deals that are available. In the end, it might just be a matter of simple math. When there are only so many deals against a certain number of agents, many of these agents will fail.
    Menno van Driel
    Royal lePage Sunshine Coast

  9. The business is marketed just as you say it is, the more realtors the better. Maybe that should be re-thought, maybe we should look at improving the odds by increasing the education, the cost, the license process (training period), and make the training more about learning how to serve our clients and not about how to use pressure to motivate people to buy or sell. Maybe we should not be so worried about the business within the business “Training and coaching”. It is my general opinion that people, not just Realtors, start to make bad decisions when they are financially strapped. In the case of Realtors, this affects the people buying or selling (our clients), they are stuck with the affects of the decision. It takes a long time to build trust, it only takes seconds for it to be destroyed by someone pressing to hard to make a mortgage or car payment. We have a poor public image, we need better Realtors, not more. Even your comment “Eureka! I’ve struck pay dirt” is not, in my opinion, appropriate.

    • Well said Mark. Even in my short time as Realtor. I’ve seen good people make bad decisions because they were under the gun.

  10. I couldn’t agree more, Stan. People come into the business for the promise of freedom, flexibility and untold wealth. For absolute certain, if they don’t learn and practice the skillset, there will never, ever be any freedom, or flexibility and for certain, NO untold wealth.
    Gord Gerrie

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