By Mark O’Farrell

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You probably didn’t know it, but people are dying to give you business.  Literally, in droves.  According to figures from Statistics Canada, an average of 16,300 Canadian homeowners die every month, resulting in an estimated 12,250 listings per month.  As death rates rise, projected at about 5% for the next 20 years, more listings will follow.  But that’s just the beginning.

Many also have cottages, chalets, rental properties and businesses.  Some may transfer to family members but a great many will be sold so assets can be divided.  And what are the beneficiaries likely to do when they inherit tax-free lump sums?  They’ll move to nicer homes, buy other recreational property and some will finally have the down payment for their first home.  The business opportunities are endless.

How Do I Find This Business?

You don’t.  It finds you.  It finds you through executors and Certified Executor Advisors (CEAs), if you’re visible to them.

Executors have the vested moral and legal responsibilities to ensure successful estate settlement.  Not only are they the decision makers in estate matters, they’re also highly influential with the beneficiaries.  They’re who you need to engage.

Certified Executor Advisors (CEAs) are professionals from the seventeen professions executors may turn to in the course of their duties.  They have broad practical knowledge in estate preparation and settlement, equipping them to engage with executors.  They assist the executor in their area of expertise and refer to the sixteen other CEA professions, of which REALTORS® are a very important one.

How Big is This Market?

According to estimates by STEP Canada and Statistics Canada data, the value of real estate transferring to the next generation over the next 20 years is $126 million…per day.  It’s huge.

Everyone talks about the baby boomers but the surge in births actually began in 1937 and those people all begin turning age 80 this year.  It’s a massive wave of octogenarians entering the testator era.

In fact, the Conference Board of Canada described it as a “Slow-motion demographic tsunami, about to hit Canada’s economy.”   The timing for REALTORS® engaging with executors couldn’t be better.  It’s unquestionably the opportunity of a lifetime.

What are Executors and Other CEAs Looking For in a REALTOR®?

CEAs are taught, and will inform their clients, that estate sales situations are considerably different than regular transactions. Clients will be looking for REALTORS® with estate expertise.

Executors and CEAs looking for REALTOR® with estate experience will look for the CEA designation, as well as their professional profile on the National Find A CEA Directory.

Referrals could come from across town or across the country, depending on where the executor or their advisors live.

How Could I Market as a REALTOR® CEA?

The most important first step is to be recognizable as the professional REALTOR® who understands estate situations and can help them.  The CEA designation gives you that, right out of the gate.

The National Find A CEA Directory can be searched by name, profession and geographical region, putting your professional profile available right across the country.

The first executor seminar this author was involved in included a lawyer, financial advisor, REALTOR® and funeral director.  While “Estate Planning” may have solicited 20 – 30 attendees, “Estate Planning for Executors” resulted in 600!  CEAs across Canada are looking for REALTOR® CEAs so they can recreate this incredible combination in their own communities.

Okay, Can You Tell Me a Little About the Program?

The CEA designation program is 30 hours, at your leisure and 100% online, so you work where and when you like.  The purpose-built learning platform is easy to use, fully searchable, and enables you to highlight and take notes right online.

It’s 7 modules, written by industry experts, in plain English.  The exam is 50 multiple choice questions, again, online for your convenience.  To learn more, visit

The tuition is $1,495 plus tax but you can save $200 using the coupon code REM17 for a limited time when registering.  The first annual membership fee is included in the tuition.  Beginning this fall, local chapters are being formed for those who want to meet with the other sixteen CEA professions in their area to mingle, share tips and marketing ideas and trade referrals.

How Many Listings Might I Expect?

Consider the figure we started with, disregarding all the recreational, rental and business property sales and all the homes beneficiaries will be purchasing.  If we divide the number of home listings simply from estate sales (12,250) by say, 3% of REALTORS® in Canada who may become CEAs, that works out to 3.75 listings per agent per month, again, rising by an estimated 5% per year for the next 20 years.

Remember, people are dying to give you business!

Mark O’Farrell, BA | CLU | CHFC | TEP | CEA is president of the Canadian Institute of Certified Executor Advisors. He can be reached at [email protected]
The Canadian Institute of Certified Executor Advisors (CICEA) provides the CEA designation program to the seventeen professions executors may turn to in the course of their duties. The CEA program is 100% online, using a purpose-built education platform for the optimal online learning experience. The program includes numerous charts, graphs and images to help convey the information, with an alphabetized glossary for quick reference of over a thousand technical terms and acronyms. In addition, the program has full highlighting, online note-taking and program search functionality.