How to become a real estate agent in Canada

19 min read
Leighton Burley

If you enjoy meeting new people, social media marketing, driving and having control of your work/life balance, a career as a real estate agent might be perfect for you. In this post, we’ll describe how to become a real estate agent in Canada.

Part of your role as a real estate professional will be to:

  • Market your real estate services online via social media channels
  • Communicate (in person or online) with potential buyers to see if they would be willing to hire you as their agent
  • Listen to their requirements — their likes, dislikes, needs, style preferences, etc.
  • Help them find a property that matches their specifications
Real estate agent showing a home

You also need to become an expert on your city, as your potential clients will ask you questions about everything – from the best neighbourhoods to the best property inspector/lawyer.

You will potentially need to show each client many properties all over town over the period of weeks and, sometimes, months. So you will need to be patient. Real estate is all about long-term investment. It’s not about quick sales.

That’s why it’s important to have some start-up capital and some savings when you first start out as a real estate agent.

You’ll work with the listing agent (if it’s not you) to arrange property viewings, negotiate with the seller and help finalize the sales process. You will need to be on top of all the deadlines and documentation, and you will always need to be on time.

The other part of the job entails meeting with those looking for an agent to list and sell their properties.

For this, you’ll need to:

  • Market yourself to the seller and see if they would go with you. Sellers usually interview multiple agents.
  • Put a lockbox on the property, order a For Sale Sign, list the property on multiple listing service (MLS) and promote the property via social media channels
  • Print brochures, create social media content based on your new listing and schedule Open Houses
  • Accept showing requests from other Realtors and Sign Calls from potential buyers who do not have a Realtor
  • Review and present offers to your clients, helping them choose the best offer for them
  • You will also need to submit all the required documentation to your brokerage on time
Modern condo with a red garage door
Real estate agents change people’s lives with their services.

Buying and selling homes can be a tedious and lengthy process that might leave some frustrated and impatient. But with a strong marketing plan, an organized work schedule, proper client-management skills and a strong work ethic, you can make life as a real estate agent a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

How to get into the real estate industry in Canada

Becoming a real estate agent who can legally buy and sell property in Canada is fairly straightforward and involves these six steps:

  1. Begin your real estate certification
  2. Take the licensing exam
  3. Interview several brokerages and compare their fees and their level of support; join one of them
  4. Get errors and omissions insurance
  5. Sign up for new realtor courses at your brokerage or shadow an experienced Realtor
  6. Get your first clients

Below we provide a general overview of what is required to become a real estate agent in Canada, from licensing requirements to supervised training and articling. Let’s dive in!

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Start selling property in 6 steps

To start, there are several prerequisites you must satisfy before you start training for work in the real estate industry. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have graduated grade 12
  • Be a citizen of Canada
  • Pass a certified criminal record check

Some provinces have more stringent application requirements, including pre-application articling experience, preparatory coursework, background checks and more.

For more information about what is required to work in the real estate industry in your province, specifically, simply click on the provincial link in this article.

1. Begin your real estate certification

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Online Classes
Many real estate classes can be taken online at your convenience.

Many real estate classes can be taken online at your convenience. There are various real estate course providers available, depending on your province.

The first step in the process is successfully completing the basic real estate licensing course in your province.

Each province administers their own certification courses through sanctioned real estate councils or association boards.

For instance, British Columbia provides real estate education through UBC Sauder’s Real Estate Division. Manitoba, on the other hand, offers training through the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA). Each province handles educational certification in a different manner from the others.

You will need to choose your specialization — residential, commercial or rural. Or you can choose them all if you want to become a real estate broker one day.

While education requirements, institutes and courses vary between provinces, the basic real estate licensing requirements appear to be fairly consistent across the board.

2. Take the licensing exam

While licensure varies across provinces, most require a written licensing exam for each designation you choose (residential, commercial and/or rural) in order to receive your real estate license.

If you choose all three designations, be ready to write three exams on three different topics.

After receiving positive test results and passing the criminal record check (including fingerprinting):

  • Your application should be approved
  • You’ll need to pay a licensing fee

In some provinces, you could also be required to become a member of a professional organization and pay applicable dues.

Related: Surviving the summer while working at home with children

3. Interview several brokerages, compare their fees and their level of support and join one

Next, you’ll need to find a brokerage that will submit your real estate license application.

You’ll want to meet with various brokers to find the ideal fit. Ask questions about their:

  • Company cultureMan and woman giving each other a high five
  • The agency setup and brokerage fee structure
  • Management support
  • Level of help with marketing
  • Backend technology for submitting real estate transactions
  • Conveyancing services

Since you’ll likely work with this agency for at least your first couple of years, you’ll want to make sure that you enjoy the work environment and staff.

The goal is to find an agency that fits your work habits and adheres to a reasonable fee structure.

Many brokerages do not have office spaces for their agents and do not require you to be there in the office all the time. As a result, you will need to work in your own home office or in a coffee shop or library. Or you could rent an office from your brokerage for an extra fee.

If you join a real estate team, the team might have more rigid requirements on when you need to be in the office. If you are working for yourself, you will be deciding on your work schedule and location.

Most agents rarely visit their brokerage — only to meet their clients if there is a meeting room. Otherwise they work from home.

If there are any aspects you’re unsure about, address and resolve them now so they don’t become an issue later on.

4. Get errors and omissions insurance

In order to become a fully licensed real estate agent, you’ll need to get errors and omissions insurance through your province’s real estate association. This will insure you against any mistakes, damage or other mishaps that might happen while on the job.

5. Sign up for new realtor courses at your brokerage or shadow an experienced Realtor

Once you get your license, sign up for new realtor courses at your brokerage.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Woman with Mentor

You will be benefit from hands-on training from experienced Realtors.

If you have an option where you can shadow an experienced Realtor definitely take advantage of that. You will learn so much more when you are working with someone who is handling many transactions.

6. Get your first clients

Once you’ve finished your learning period, it’s time for you to hit the pavement and get your first real estate client. Here are some tips that might help:

Take advantage of the tools your real estate association provides

You’ll need to gain access to your local multiple listing service (MLS) portal so that you can post properties online. Additionally, you should buy several lockboxes from your brokerage or realty association so you can provide easy access to your listed properties.

Advertise your services

Calgary Lifestyle Guide instagram post by Anastasia Dvorak
Calgary real estate influencer Anastasia Dvorak shares her local knowledge on Instagram. Source

Even though your budget might be tight starting out, you’ll need to invest in some basic advertising. This should, at a minimum, include:

If you have a larger advertising budget, you could invest in digital ads, online lead generation and even search engine optimization (SEO).

Related: Free WordPress themes for real estate websites

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Become well-known and liked in your community

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Man Unlocking a Front Door

The best kind of marketing is relationship marketing. This is based on the premise that people who know you are more inclined to trust you to provide a high level of service.

Even if you have active marketing campaigns, you should still invest time in becoming well-known in your community.

  • Go to your local chamber of commerce meetings
  • Join your community’s Facebook Group
  • Host a community BBQ
  • Sponsor a sporting event
  • Meet your neighbours
  • Start a YouTube Channel sharing your real estate and community knowledge

All of these things will help people put a face to the ads, so that next time they move or buy, you’re the first person they call.

What are the benefits of becoming a real estate agent?

There are many benefits of becoming a real estate agent.

Control of your time

First of all, you are in charge of your schedule. You can decide to have a day off and go skiing on a weekday with your family. You can also work from home; you are not obligated to go to some office and work 9-5. And you can work any hours you want.

You can start your day at noon if you want to.

You will become an expert on your city and have an insider perspective on the real estate industry, which can help you a lot if you ever decide to become a real estate investor.

More flexibility for family

How to Make Money on Instagram Family Selfie

Becoming a real estate agent means you’ll have the chance to be there for family. You will be able to pick up the kids from school and spend time with them as you are not working a strict 9-5 schedule.

The chance to have a positive impact

The job is very rewarding (not only financially) as you are changing people’s lives by finding their dream homes and helping them close a chapter by selling their homes.

Many people do not understand that success as a Realtor depends on your ability to market yourself.

But you don’t need to go door-knocking if you don’t want to!

If you want to become a successful real estate agent, focus on learning how to be good at online and social media marketing.

Your salary is up to you

Finally, the financial rewards are great — you have an opportunity to make as much money as you want.

You will need to learn how to handle many clients at the same time without losing your quality of service. Or you may decide to create your own real estate team in order to serve more clients.

This job would work for someone who loves marketing and enjoys looking at houses. But doing this just for the financial benefit is not sustainable, as you will get tired of driving and looking at many properties.

How much does it cost to get a real estate license in Canada?

On average, the cost of getting your real estate agent's license in Canada will be between $4,000 to $7,500, although the price will vary. In addition, the cost of acquiring your real estate license in Canada will vary depending on the province you live in and the educational institutes you attend for your training.

You will be required to pay:

  • For the pre-licensing training programWoman writing in a notebook with a silver pen
  • For the licensing program
  • To become a member of your provincial real estate association

In addition, your local real estate board will also have a yearly premium that they charge to its members.

Your provincial real estate board will be able to provide you with a list of all required courses that you must complete, along with the educational institutes that you can use to complete your courses. If you contact these organizations, they’ll provide you with course costs to gain a better understanding of how much it will cost to get a real estate license in your province or territory.

How much does a real estate agent make in Canada?

According to the Government of Canada, a real estate agent will make between $27,446/year and $134,783/year.

The median salary for a real estate agent in Canada is $46,212/year.

The compensation you receive will be determined by the commission you receive from the brokerage that hired you and how talented you are at acquiring new clients and selling their homes as a real estate salesperson.

That’s how to become a real estate agent

This post has outlined the general steps required by most provinces to start a career in the real estate industry, from licensing requirements to insurance needed to work in the real estate industry. While various provinces differ in the specifics, these are the steps most commonly followed to get a real estate certification in Canada.

A career in real estate can prove to be a rewarding one and offers many benefits, including:

  • The ability to set your own schedule
  • Work with a high-energy group of professionals
  • Continually interact with new people
  • Become an expert on your city
  • The ability to make as much money as you want

If your personality fits this description, a career as a real estate professional might be the perfect fit for you.

Why not give it a shot?

Calgary real estate influencer Anastasia Dvorak contributed to this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Canada, many people are interested in becoming real estate agents because it offers:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Above-average salaries
  • The potential to make a much better wage if you’re talented as a real estate agent

However, they usually have questions and concerns about choosing real estate as their career.

This section will answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about becoming a real estate agent in Canada.

How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Canada?

To become a real estate agent in Canada requires 9-18 months of training. Since real estate agents are a regulated profession in Canada, you’ll need to first register with your provincial real estate board.

Once your provincial real estate board has accepted you, you can begin taking courses known as ‘pre-licensing training.’ The pre-licensing courses will provide basic knowledge about:

  • Real estate as a career
  • Professional real estate measurement
  • Types of properties
  • The construction process
  • Land structure
  • Real estate trading
  • Residential real estate
  • Commercial real estate
  • Rural real estate
  • The basics of real estate transactions
  • An overview of Contract Law

You can take these courses in-person or online, and most pre-licensing courses will allow you to complete the course schedule at your own pace. This means that you can become a real estate agent faster if you’re willing to put in more effort.

After completing the pre-licensing exam, you can apply for the licensing exam, which is a 9-18 month process, depending on your province. If you pass the licensing exam, you can seek employment at any real estate brokerage within your province or territory.

What education is required to become a real estate agent in Canada?

You’re not required to have any college degrees to become a real estate agent in Canada. To begin your career as a real estate agent, you’ll only need to possess a high school diploma (or equivalent) and pass the criminal background check.

Once you have your grade 12 diploma, you must further your academic training by completing the ‘pre-licensing training.’ This training will provide the groundwork for your real estate career by teaching you about selling real estate and the laws associated with trading real estate in Canada.

After you’ve passed the pre-licensing exam, you can apply for the real estate licensing exam. To take the exam, you’ll need to complete a series of real estate courses that cover the principles of:

  • Real estate appraisal
  • Mortgage and financing
  • Contract Law and types of real estate contracts
  • Real estate investment
  • Commercial real estate
  • Residential real estate
  • Rural real estate

The courses for the licensing exam will require about 12-18 months of training to complete. If you pass the exam, you can seek employment at any real estate brokerage in your province or territory.

How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Ontario?

If you’re looking to become a real estate agent in Ontario, it will take about 9-12 months of training and course work and another two years known as the ‘articling period’ before you’ll become a fully authorized real estate salesperson.

As a real estate salesperson, your profession will be regulated, so you’ll be required to follow the training standards set by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), which all take time to complete.

Firstly, you’ll be required to have a grade 12 diploma before you can pursue a career as a real estate salesperson. Then you’ll need to complete the ‘Pre-Registration Learning Path,’ which is Ontario’s equivalent to the pre-licensing training offered by the real estate associations in other Canadian provinces.

Depending on your course schedule, the Pre-Registration Learning Path will take between 9-12 months to complete. After passing the exam, you can apply at a real estate brokerage and begin your two-year articling period to become a real estate salesperson in Ontario.

Can you get rich as a real estate agent in Canada?

Being a real estate agent will give you an above-average salary in Canada. Still, you’ll need to be in the top 10% of real estate agents across Canada if you want to make a lot of money and become wealthy from selling real estate.

Having a real estate agent career is often seen as a coveted job that provides a flexible schedule and a high-paying wage. However, if you’re an average real estate salesperson, it’s unlikely that you’ll get rich from a career in real estate.

What skills are required to be a real estate agent in Canada?

It’s relatively easy to become a real estate agent in Canada, but becoming a successful real estate salesperson is increasingly difficult. So if you’re looking to build your career as a real estate professional, you’ll need to acquire skills that will help you.

As a real estate agent, you’ll be required to talk to clients regularly and to constantly market yourself online. This means that you’ll need to work on your:

  • Communication skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Personal manners
  • Time management
  • Marketing skills
  • Understanding of social signals

You will also be required to have the ability to sell homes, negotiate prices and make both parties happy with the final sale price of the property. This involves problem-solving skills, patience, and good people skills.

If you want to acquire more clients because your past clients have given you glowing reviews, you’ll need to ensure that you have integrity in business. Without integrity, your real estate career will be short-lived.

As a real estate professional, you’ll also need to be tech-savvy so that you can list your properties online, respond to emails and calls, and schedule appointments with potential buyers or sellers.

Lastly, you’ll be required to have a good understanding of real estate, the location and neighbourhood that you work in, architecture design and basic construction, and a working knowledge of the real estate industry as it fluctuates.

Is becoming a real estate agent hard?

That depends.

The courses take time to complete and involve a lot of reading and some basic math. But they are not hard if you have completed any post-secondary education and are familiar with writing exams.

The hardest part about being a real estate agent is realizing that your success depends on your lead generation skills, your marketing ability and your client management skills.

In order to differentiate yourself, you will need to build your own brand and be highly motivated.

You will need to find the time to generate new leads by creating fun, engaging posts and videos that bring value to your potential customer.

You will also need to manage your clients, their showings, their emotions and all the issues that can come up during a real estate transaction.

How many hours do realtors work a day?

Successful Realtors work a lot, but they do have flexibility as to when they work. Most also enjoy what they do, so it doesn’t feel like “work.”

They typically focus on:

  • Their marketing and promotional work during the day
  • Doing showings or listing presentations in the late afternoon/evening with their clients

Realtors usually do showings in the evenings and on weekends, but it depends on their clients.

Be prepared to work on weekends and holidays. You will always need to be near your phone, and you will need to pick up the phone calls — even during dinner time.

Being a Realtor is equivalent to being self-employed as your work is commission-based, and your income depends on you. You have your own business, and you choose when you want to work on it.

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