Hiring and training a real estate administrator is a daunting task. Bridget Blue knows this firsthand, after her company tasked her with finding a qualified admin for one of its top teams. The interview process took a couple of months, but rather than grumble and complain, Blue saw the opportunity to turn that frown upside down. She created a training program that would provide skilled, work-ready real estate administrators to Ontario agents and brokers.
Blue, who has been a virtual admin since 2019, says she ran her idea past Gina Cristello, broker of record and CEO at Solid Rock Realty, an independently owned and operated brokerage in Ottawa, Ont. The Real Estate Administration Career Training Program, which Blue created in partnership with the brokerage, provides the knowledge and skills to support real estate professionals accurately and confidently with day-to-day tasks and duties involved in the real estate transaction process.
After Solid Rock was on board, Blue approached the local Education + Employment Centre, a not-for-profit, government-funded agency in Brockville, Ont. that provides employment services. With only a week’s notice, 10 people enrolled in the inaugural program.
The five-day course (eight hours a day with breaks) covers everything from Real Estate Council of Ontario and board rules and regulations (the Ottawa board alone has 58 pages of rules and regulations) to how to broker-load listings to rules and regulations around advertising and social media.
Participants “gain skills to support real estate professionals in their day-to-day tasks, as well as how to protect their agents and brokers,” Blue says.
Other topics include the responsibilities of an unlicenced admin, real estate lingo, buyer and offer documents, leases, FINTRAC regulations and condo documents.
Admins also need to know their agents and what they do, and also to not be afraid to question them, says Blue. “There’s nothing wrong with questioning. An agent will listen and consider.”
She says she spoke to an agent who has 10 years in the business and questioned whether the HST should be included in the price. “I asked her to go check to confirm I’m wrong.” However Blue was right. “It saved the agent from having to pay the HST out of her own pocket.” It’s another reason agents are thrilled to have professionally trained assistants.
Blue, operations co-ordinator and Brockville Hub manager for Solid Rock Realty, which has about 100 agents, is currently completing her real estate licence.
She says hiring a trained real estate administrator is now easier than ever. Her training program saves brokers and agents the daunting and time-taxing, cringe-worthy task of finding a properly trained assistant.
Many from the first class are now employed, two with Solid Rock. Blue says she’s thrilled that she was able to help people find jobs. For participants, the training program opens up doors and opportunities, she says. And there were 35 people on the waiting list, so the demand was clear.
Applicants need some administrative skills and social media and marketing knowledge but Blue says the most important criteria is “they need to want to learn.” The beauty of training people fresh to real estate admin is that they haven’t worked elsewhere and developed bad habits, which Blue says can be hard to break.
The next session is scheduled for February 2022 and is open to the public interested in becoming real estate administrators, as well as agents and brokers who want to send specific candidates for training prior to hiring or for a refresher course. The five-day training program costs $350. (Agents and brokers receive a reduced fee of $299.)
Upon completion, the admins should be able to work anywhere in Ontario.
“Our company is on six real estate boards,” says Blue. She is the compliance officer on the listing side from the beginning to just before a property sells and says about 80 per cent of the rules are the same regardless of location in the province. There may be minor tweaking required, but the admins will have a solid footing.
In 2014, Blue was an international real estate agent in Spain and she says she loved it. “There is no licence required. You work with morals and ethics.”
She returned to Canada in 2017 and was hired by Solid Rock Realty and has been there since, except for a brief stint with another agent, where Blue says she learned a lot. “When I returned to Solid Rock, I was given more responsibilities,” says Blue, who says she loves working at the brokerage. They are supportive, she says, more like a family rooting for her success and that of her training program.
For more information about the Real Estate Administration Career Training Program, contact Bridget Blue at 613-498-3113 or email her at [email protected]
This article was changed from the original version to update the course prices.