You would expect that your dentist went to Med school; your kid’s teacher went to teacher’s college; and you would hope your financial advisor at least has a BA in Economics. But what about your real estate agent?
For years, real estate regulatory organizations RECO and CREA have spent countless amounts of money trying to convince the public that the real estate industry has evolved from a purely sales-based service to a more consultative profession. While this may be the case for many of the higher end agents, it is not indicative of the industry at large due chiefly to the fact that RECO, CREA and all the other various real estate boards have created a self-servicing system.
Unlike most recognized professions, the criteria for becoming a real estate agent are decidedly un-stringent. Achieving a real estate license is a relatively simple task, after which no apprenticeship or articling is required; an agent can start working as soon as a brokerage hires them. This relatively low barrier to entry floods the industry with less than desirable agents, tainting the profession as a whole.
The solution seems simple enough; raise the educational and training requirements to increase barriers to entry. This, however, would drastically reduce the amount of practicing real estate agents and organizations such as RECO, CREA, OREA and TREB would experience significant revenue drops due to decreased membership. Since these organizations control licensing for the industry, it is unlikely that any real change will ever be enacted.
What’s the best thing consumers can do to protect themselves against choosing the wrong agent? Vet prospective agents very carefully. Make sure you ask the right questions and choose based on the agent, not the company they work for. For more tips, see my blog post on Choosing the Best Commercial Real Estate Agent.