moneyToo many people still believe that all you have to do to make a lot of money is get a real estate license.

In recent years, provincial real estate regulators have mandated that students can opt to do the courses online. Many of us brokers and managers see that registrants are graduating with a naive belief that they have enough knowledge to trade in real estate.

Having participated in many training sessions with these graduates, I find they have illusions of quick successes in our business. They are mostly ill-prepared to write an offer or even a listing information sheet. Brokers and managers must go over the basics of what we, as professionals, must practice, including ethics fundamentals.

Here in Ontario, there’s a movement afoot to ensure that an ethics course is included in the basic courses offered.  We’ll wait to see when that will happen. The Mandatory Update, now online via the Real Estate Council of Ontario, is simply not enough. The value of understanding fully the Codes of Ethics that we’re governed under will lead to a more skilful and successful business – and avoid confrontations with fellow colleagues and the public.

Students seem to believe that once they have their licence and take the mandatory additional courses two years hence, the leads necessary to generate income will naturally fall from their personal data base (their sphere of influence).

A great many lack ambition and the drive to succeed in a commission-based world. I’m dumbfounded by the vast numbers of agents who are bewildered by all the paper work, details and technology that is necessary to produce a generous income. Practicing filling out these forms leads to one becoming more of a professional, once they understand fully the content of the forms that are intended to protect the consumer and themselves.

It was said many years ago that 70 per cent of the business is done by 30 per cent of the agents.  A few years ago someone determined that this ratio had changed to 90 per cent of the business being done by 10 per cent of the agents. Some registrants get it right away.  They want to be in that 10 per cent and have the drive to get there.

To get “it”, take the in-house training your broker offers and use it. A new agent cannot take the training being offered lightly. Drifting in and out of sessions without a valid reason won’t help your career. Brokers are putting their money on the line in hopes that all the training will result in deals and listings. Sure you’ve taken a big risk by perhaps leaving another job, but think of the risk the brokers take in helping you develop your career. It’s huge! So use the training given and you will get the results you are looking for.

A prime example of a success story in our office is a first-year agent who was taking one of our courses about phone canvassing apartment units. The agent called 145 tenants and had many come out to his open house.  One tenant actually bought a home from him and the agent wound up with a number of qualified buyers. Was it hard work? Yes. Did he use the scripts provided? Yes.

There were many other success stories from that class about calling tenants.

Real estate is a tough business to understand and yet it’s profoundly simple. Simple in that you have to have great numbers of people to call. A personal sphere of influence list doesn’t cut it.

Registrants have to understand the product by getting out to see it, as I wrote in one of my recent columns. They have to run successful open houses regularly and follow up on the leads.

Look, this article and others that you may see in REM or online offer the same suggestions and offer many scripts to follow. But the simple truth is that leads, listings and/or offers will not fall out of the sky.

Yes, you can make a ton of money in this business if you treat it as a business. Recently one of the agents that I coach was very proud that he had done eight transactions in a month. I praised his work ethic. I asked him how he saw this business. His reply was:  “I see it as a way to make a lot of money!”

I agreed. Then we sat and talked about how he has to look at what he does as a business to ensure he continues this success. We explored several options over the next hour or so and formulated a plan to make sure his recent success will be sustained for months and years to come.

I used the analogy of how some professional ball players can have several years of great success and then suddenly their careers go into a tailspin – and not just because of injuries. They either forgot the fundamentals or they just didn’t stay in physical shape – or they didn’t listen to their coaches.

stan cropped webWhile this business is primarily about making money, it is also about building relationships and loyalties – and that’s how you build your business over the years. But first, you have to be willing to participate in all the invaluable training offered by your brokerage, listen to your mentors and start putting the building blocks in place that will ultimately result in success and longevity in our profession.

Stan Albert, broker/manager, ABR, ASA at Re/Max Premier in Vaughan, Ont. can be reached for consultation at [email protected]. Stan is now celebrating his 43rd year as an active real estate professional.



  1. In reading your article I found myself nodding along to a
    number of points that you raised. Foundational education is
    extremely important; a degree or license indicates that a person has achieved a certain standard, but pursuing rigorous, meaningful and relevant professional development beyond what is required is truly the way to distinguish one person from another. This sentiment is doubly true when discussing the value of Ethics training. You state that having an understanding of the Codes of Ethics that govern Realtors “will lead to a more skilful and successful
    business – and avoid confrontations with fellow colleagues and the public.” I completely agree. We live in an increasingly litigious time and consumers are demanding that the people they work with demonstrate a level of professionalism and a commitment to ethical practices. Yes,
    brokerages and broker managers are making training available. Realtors who take advantage of this training, or request additional training if it’s not being offered, will strengthen the training foundation and aid in the Realtor’s
    future success. Promoting high business ethics is the cornerstone of the Real Estate Institute of Canada and is a mandatory requirement for all students pursuing our designation programs.

  2. Taking on-line courses may be ok for the seasoned professional but the loss of interaction between the Instructor and other students is going to be a major learning problem in the future.

    Easy to mandate those requirements but the human touch is lost!!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi Stan:

    You make a critically important statement when you say that “Many of us brokers and managers see that registrants are graduating with the naive belief that they have enough knowledge to trade in real estate.” A belief is not based upon reality, but upon what has been taught. OREA (specific to Ontario) thus is a guilty party to the faulty belief system that is promoted by OREA and which susbsequently pervades the general population of students enrolled in real estate classes.

    I know one OREA instructor personally who lays down the law to said instructor’s students on a daily basis regarding the importance of what graduates will be undertaking once licensed. However, I also know of many other instructors who simply spout the glorious mantra of Organized Real Estate which puffs up the image of the successful Realtor to one who uses one’s learned ability via use of “insider knowledge” to manipulate the client’s interests toward doing what the ‘Realtor’ wants the client to do…as quickly and efficiently (for the Realtor) as possible. Being a successful Realtor means becoming an assembly-line producer of listings and sales. Quantity therefore trumps quality. Success is thus measured strictly in terms of dollars produced. The “how” becomes subservient to the “why”. This state of affairs is precisely why RECO supposedly exists.

    It is too easy to obtain a real estate salesperson license, and the license obtained really isn’t worth much early on out in the real world, away from academia and its many cohorts to the myth of the open door (via piece of paper…a licence) to riches

    Keep on telling it like it is Stan.



  4. Great article. However, the idea of making an ethics course mandatory is a waste of time. The reality is that ethics and values are something that need to be ingrained in an individual at a young age. All the ethics courses in the world will not make someone ethical who is inclined to take shortcuts.

    • Hi Carl:

      I agree that a moral foundation, which begets the successful ability to grasp onto the fundamentals of prescribed ethics and a cultural value system, either is, or is not, imbedded within us by the age of about fourteen years of age, and certainly by age twenty-one. Having said that, the importance of exposing a registrant to ethics courses may not be to miraculously transform same into a moral, honest, ethics abiding person from a position of immoral behaviours which serve to undermine an ethical viewpoint and an honest value system, but rather, it may serve to reveal just who the immoral, unethical, dishonest types inherently are by their very uncomfortable presence within the confines of an in-class ethics class. Instructors can then red flag these types for further examination going forward.

      Making ethics courses mandatory will help to weed out the bad actors with bad attitudes. Bad actors can’t lie consistently, day in and day out, without giving themselves away with just one smart-aleck remark about the content of the course(s). I’ve seen it displayed herein whilst discussing professionalism and ethics on other topics, whereby more than one responder openly mocked me for my persistent honing in on the subject. They never had the guts to identify themselves by the way, but instead, hid behind goofy monikers.

      Immoral, unethical, dishonest types will always eventually give themselves away for what they really are (under their guises of acting professional) when placed under the scrutiny of instructors trained to recognize these jerks when they see and hear them in action…in a mandatory ethics class. We all instinctively recognize them as soon as they open their sleazy mouths…do we not? They may memorize and answer exam questions correctly, but once flagged, they need not be hired by brokerages who are trying to rid themselves of the slippery reputation that these assholes unfortunately bring to the table with their inherent unsavouryness.

      Find out who they are…really…as the result of mandatory ethics class participation, and don’t give them the chance to be in need of firing down the road after the damage has been done to the hiring brokerage. Fire them up front by not hiring them in the first place.

      Mandatory ethics classes?…bring them on…with a 100% required mark to pass. This will help to weed out the bad apples, and hopefully keep them out of the barrel altogether.

      • And brokerages should only hire the ones that passed with 100 %. Not just anybody who can fog up a mirror.

  5. I agree with everything you stated.
    Following are a few of my examples.
    I had a friend’s sister who just got into real estate call me and ask if I could help her write her first deal.
    She didn’t even know the difference between a deposit and a down payment.
    I had another friend take a info session on becoming a realtor at a secondary institute and the instructor claimed to the room full of hopeful students that every realtor makes at least $100,000 a year, and that it’s easy.
    I had a client that knew our board’s president, and he asked our president, “How hard is it to become a realtor?” The president replied, “We use the mirror test. If the mirror fogs up when we put it under their nose, we give them a license.”

  6. I may be confused, but isn’t cold calling, illegal? If it’s not illegal, could you please advise, as cold calling expireds etc. seems like the most logical approach, even though it’s difficult to do.

  7. Great article! How many times have we heard ” I think when I retire, I’m going to sell Real Estate”. The public, as a general rule, sees Real Estate as being part time, easy money, at all times social and fun where one can presumably turn the clock off at ‘closing time’ to be with family, friends and always be there to attend social functions! In fact, it is an actual time consuming, full time, at times highly stressful, very competitive career choice where one must stay educated, follow the rules, accept the many liabilities, always be ethical, have a thick skin and not always work on your own schedule. Not to say it’s not rewarding, at times very much so, and yes, it can be a very lucrative profession. But it is, or should be ‘a profession’.

  8. Great post. As a first year student in post-secondary school for Real Estate & Housing, I appreciate the information provided. Being able to take the opportunities to learn as much as possible, and work hard at contacting people and setting up information sessions seems like a great challenge and learning process.

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