By Glenda Brindle

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is planning a new registration education program that will ensure the continuing success of the real estate profession. But before I get into the details, I’d like to look back at how the sector has changed.

When I entered the real estate profession 27 years ago, my broker handed me a phone book and told me to get to work on finding some new clients. I’d taken courses to become a salesperson, but I still had a lot to learn. On-the-job learning was essential to my success.

We have come a long way since then, and the current program delivered by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has served our profession well. But today’s marketplace offers buyers and sellers more options than ever and trading real estate has become more complex. It’s challenging for brokerages to find the time to bring new salespeople up to speed. As a result, new salespeople are expected to have a higher level of skills and knowledge from the get-go. We need to change our approach to education so that education providers can better meet the needs of today’s real estate sector.

We know that’s the case, because RECO commissioned a great deal of consultation with real estate professionals, education providers and other regulatory bodies. We repeatedly heard that real estate registration education should provide aspiring professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to complete real estate trades when they enter the profession.

With that in mind, RECO has released a proposal for the future of real estate registration education in Ontario that will ensure that new salespeople can “hit the ground running.”

Once implemented, only new salespeople and brokers would follow the new learning paths we’re proposing, but we know that registration education affects the entire real estate sector.

Completing real estate trades involves a lot of interaction with fellow professionals. When you’re scheduling showings, taking offers and closing deals, you want the representative on the other side of the transaction to have a thorough understanding of the process. And a skilled, knowledgeable base of brokers and salespeople means positive experiences for buyers and sellers, who then have greater trust in the real estate profession.

Currently, aspiring salespeople get a full overview of the real estate transaction during the pre-registration phase of their education, but they don’t have much opportunity to apply that knowledge before they are registered. After they are registered with RECO, salespeople continue to learn with articling courses and on-the-job learning at their brokerage.

Under our proposal, aspiring salespeople would obtain a broad understanding of the real estate transaction before they enter the profession. There are four key components to our plan:

  • Key topics that are currently covered in the articling phase would be moved to the pre-registration phase.
  • Working with education experts, we would develop a new curriculum for pre-registration, articling and broker education.
  • To make sure that students are on track, they would demonstrate what they have learned by completing scenarios based on real-life situations at several points during their education.
  • After completing their courses, students would have to pass an independent certification exam.

New salespeople will still require support from their brokerage, but they’ll have a better understanding of the mechanics of a real estate trade.

Overhauling registration education is a big job, but it’s not something we are doing alone. Education experts will help us develop the new program and education providers will help us deliver it. Both will be chosen through an open selection process. As our current education provider, OREA will have an opportunity to participate in this process.

RECO’s role would be to provide oversight by setting rigorous standards and by ensuring that education providers meet those standards.

In fact, we plan to introduce greater choice to registration education. Aspiring real estate professionals could have multiple education providers to choose from.

I encourage you to learn more by visiting RECO’s website. We have posted a white paper that describes our proposal in-depth, an executive summary that highlights the key points, and Q&As that answer some of the questions we have received.

And, most importantly, we want to hear from you. I invite you to submit written comments to [email protected] by February 20.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting continued progress in registration education. It’s something that all real estate professionals should be excited about.


  1. Anything that advances the quality of educational process’ or requirements as it relates to professional real estate is a positive thing.

    Having someone like Brian Martindale involved in a process like this would, in my view, add credibility to the process. Perhaps Brian can be courted out of retirement to participate in some capacity.

    Not to diminish the positive nature of this positive news, we still must be careful not to overlook experienced practitioners from the kind of standards we would seek to require of new people, coming into the industry.

    In less than 24 hours, I have come in contact with two different real estate consumers who are looking to sell properties that had previously failed to sell (expired listings). The first individual (a gentleman) had been working with a “top producer” who is probably in the top 1% of our industry. The second individual (a lady) had been working with a different “top producer” who would also be close to the top of our industry . These two different “top producers” made the same mistake by way of omission, on both these listings. Each of the homes in question have a true walk-out regarding the basement level, and yet neither listing reflected this fact, in the search-field. Many home buyer’s make this particular feature a “need item” – meaning they won’t look at a home if the features doesn’t exist.

    Real estate practitioners who are at the top of our profession tend to enjoy something of a celebrity status, because of the volume of advertising that they do. Real estate consumers tend to make assumptions around the apparent or perceived success of certain real estate practitioners – in the sense that these such individuals have an automatic credibility. Increasing the standards for those who will be new to the business is definitely a step in the right direction. However, we should avoid giving the public the impression that a lack of proper education or experience among newer practitioners is a problem that is so large, that it eclipses industry problems that relate to the work of experienced practitioners, disproportionately.

  2. Correction
    Third paragraph, twelve lines down should read: “Backing up, just anyone with a high school education or even a University education with only so-so marks ‘cannot’ get into law school or medical school in the first place.”

  3. Finally, the most important cog in the organized real estate (ORE) oversight wheel, RECO, is stepping up to the plate regarding the beginnings of restricting the number of licensees in the Ontario real-estate-commission sweepstakes game. That is ideally what higher entry and admission-to-the-business standards will ultimately accomplish.
    I have read the white paper documents etc. and I agree with most everything that RECO is proposing, especially the part whereby those wannabe’s with industry-related post-secondary educations (University and College) are to be given preferential treatment regarding the circumstances surrounding direct access to sitting what I refer to as the “credibility exam”.
    By raising entrance standards the numbers of ill-prepared and ill-suited looking-for-easy- commissions wannabe’s are going to be reduced (eliminated?). Fewer numbers of wannabe registrants will actually mean fewer incompetents in raw numbers whilst paving the way for forward-looking types with suitable backgrounds (education-wise, experience-wise and attitude-wise regarding the attainment of strict and demanding education requirements) who plan on making real estate a full-time career, the opportunity to establish themselves without being forced to compete with hit-and-miss part-time skimmers and full-time incompetents at ‘their’ communal level of operation…desperation. The numbers of doctors and lawyers, for instance, are controlled via just this type of stiff entry level requirements into the field in the first place. Then they are further weeded out through the rigorous prep schools education requirements, as they should be. From there your potential professionals in requisite numbers emerge. Backing up, just anyone with a high school education nor with just even so-so marks in University can get into law school nor medical school in the first place. To that end displayed higher intelligence and devoted work ethics are required from professional wannabe’s via displayed consistent performance at the university and beyond level. Even then the odd incompetent gets through the process.
    I sincerely hope that the teachers who are to be hired to impart the knowledge (both in-class and via simulated in-the-field participatory scenarios) are going to be up to the challenge of turning out actual ready-for-action competent, professionally behaving individuals. Their (teachers’) attitudes must be the direct opposite of too many current teachers’ attitudes whereby current teachers seem to be trying to get as many students through the process as possible by being enablers v. what needs to be the attitude of the new teaching breed…making sure that the less-than-capable are continually weeded out as the education process moves forward. It is said that at the beginning of every first-year law school class the instructor will often say “Take a look at each student on your right and left. One of them, statistically, will not make it through law school.” The same attitude should prevail amongst real estate school teachers, even as they recognize that they will be going forward preaching to the future more-highly-qualified-to-get-there wannabe’s who get that far through the weeding-out process in the first place. The system should demand at least a thirty-three-percent failure rate. From this foundation of stringent, demanded requirements built upon rock solid ideas instead of non-foundational, wispy, almost non-requirements (“You have a great personality and the mirror fogged up; you’re hired!”) floating-on-sand let’s-keep-the-game-going preaching vested-interest teaching non-artists, will emerge actual professional Realtors in large numbers. Ideally, that number will be about two-thirds the number of total registrants currently flooding the landscape with muddy backgrounds and pseudo-credentials.
    Note: If the above is too complicated word-wise and/or idea-wise for you to comprehend, then you should not be aspiring to be a Realtor. The actual business of transacting real estate purchases and sales on behalf of clients’ fiduciary interests, first and foremost, can be much more complicated than my chosen strings of words as presented herein.

    • I nominate Brian Martindale as a paid full-time employee to RECO! Give him a mandate to help the recently minted Registrar get this great endeavor off the ground, without the bureaucracy of government implementation and to be free of the Old Boys network that is often associated when New Rules are implemented to Old institutions such as real estate.

      • Hi Doris and Allan:
        Thank you for going out on a limb and publicly expressing your nomination and endorsement respectively vis a vis a potential engagement with RECO regarding its pending delivery of long-needed improvements in the preparation of and roll out of procedures designed to vet and prepare candidates for the to-be-more-highly-valued position of Professional Realtor. However, folks like me who are outspokenly blunt with their assessments of what might ail an industry are not usually welcomed into large bureaucratic organizations that operate on a relatively slow moving schedule regarding changes of strategy and modus operandi (But kudos to RECO for changing its strategy and upping the game in the first place).
        I do things in what might be described as the quantum leap manner. For instance, I would implement a requirement for a wannabe to have displayed industry-related experience and/or industry-related post secondary education before being granted access to real estate school, immediately. That pending new standard, once agreed to as being the desired norm, would have been raised to that level yesterday were it up to me. To say that I would be impatient with the projected speed of the total administrative roll out of new procedures would be an understatement. I simply am not a good fit within organizations wherein single voices (especially of the outlier kind) spurring on the speed and/or the severity of change, are not particularly heard. I believe that RECOites listen more to outsiders than insiders, and that is probably a good thing.
        I spoke with an investigator at RECO a few months ago, and she was vaguely aware of my name, once I connected same with REM. If RECOites know anything about me and my opinions at all, which they likely don’t, then that would probably be enough for them to distance themselves from me pronto lol. Besides, my only experience working within a government bureaucracy was over a four plus year stint many years ago when I operated as one of fifty-six conciliators province-wide (Ontario) with TARION Corp. I had been selected for a head office position after having never been appealed on any of my 1,600 plus conciliations, but I became involved in a coup whereby I managed to have a bad area manager (managing the office wherein I worked from) fired for misconduct of a harassment nature. He was trying to get rid of me when he became aware that I was on to him, but I prevailed. However, my stock went down with some at head office immediately after that (I was perceived as having overstepped my bounds within the hierarchy, and I knew it). Some at head office liked the guy. I resigned shortly thereafter. I was then a few weeks later asked back on contract by the new office manager to resolve fifteen files that were headed to the Consumer Registration Appeal Tribunal (CRAT) after various conciliators had failed to resolve the issues therein. I closed them all out within a couple of weeks. When the new manager bragged to head office about how he had closed out those problem files via my efforts, he was warned to not ever bring me back on staff again. He was flabbergasted, but he wanted to keep his job. So much for rational bureaucratic thinking. I have been a lone wolf within the work force ever since.
        Thank you for your kind thoughts nevertheless. If I was thirty years younger I think that I would have to go out and buy a new hat, a much bigger one.
        If RECO comes calling (not), I will eat my old, much smaller but better fitting hat.

  4. This is great
    news. Not entirely sure exactly how this
    will pan out but I wanted to share with you my support and encouragement as you
    work through all of this.. I know it is a huge challenge.

    I have been saying since I first got into this profession that part of the reason we are not perceived
    by the public as being professionals is because our educational requirements do
    not convey that we are professionals. When I think of a professional I often think
    of doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants… most of whom have to attend an
    accredited university and who must obtain a degree of one form or another…. Those
    with degrees are considered experts in a field… or at least more knowledgeable than
    a novice… We need to get in line with the public’s perceptions and offer up
    degrees in real estate and (as I believe you have indicated) we need to offer
    these degrees through accredited universities that the public have heard of and
    acknowledge… most people have no idea who OREA is and the public have little
    regard for OREA but they do know the University of Western Ontario, U of T,
    Laurier, Brock, etc… we need to use the reputation of these universities to
    elevate the status of agents… RECO needs to oversee these universities but let
    the universities do what they are good at… teach
    aspiring professionals.

    There’s my 2 cents…. Thanks for helping elevate our status
    in the eyes of the public…. Right now people believe someone can walk out of a
    factory… take 3 easy courses and start selling with no practical experience…
    this is the detriment of the public and of course ourselves as realtors. How
    can you respect a doctor or a teacher that took 3 courses and then started
    practicing their profession… no wonder so many people choose to sell on their
    own without the professionals… if this was the case for our doctors and
    teachers… I would consider teaching myself and perhaps even surgery… LOL

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