Training is a necessity, not a luxury


Don KottickBy Don Kottick

As I stated in my article published in REM in October (Due diligence for the salesperson), the industry is in a transitional state from a number of different perspectives.  For years, the industry has vocalized internally that we need to improve our professionalism and need to better train our salespeople and brokers.  We also need to ensure that when tested by the public, the media or before the courts, that we are in fact delivering a higher standard of service, as to be expected from a true “professional”. 

I believe our provincial associations provide new registrants with a good foundation to enter the real estate profession.  As great as this introductory training is, the new registrants are really not prepared for full active duty on the street from a practical perspective.  The landmines and the potential litigation that lay hidden for the new practitioner is plentiful and can be quite daunting….if they know about it. As an industry, specifically at the brokerage level, we need to improve the level of training and its availability, especially to new registrants; but also to experienced salespeople and brokers.

Upon graduating, the new registrant is primarily focused on finding a new brokerage, with most of their attention directed to the fee or commission plan offering of the brokerage.  The registrant should be equally focused on the validity and comprehensiveness of the training that is offered by the potential brokerage.  Unfortunately, there is a wide spectrum of offerings when it comes to education in our field, and there is a lot of smoke and mirrors.  Training is probably the most important decision a new registrant can make, because it will dictate if this individual will be in the industry in two years from their point of entry.  Basing a decision to join a brokerage based on commission structure alone is a short-sighted decision, but sadly this is all too common.

If an individual truly wants to be successful in real estate they need to be trained properly.   They need to ensure that the person offering the fundamental training is licensed and has had practical hands-on experience.  There are lots of stories about the quality of training, and the depth and knowledge of the individuals doing the teaching. Some are good, but many are weak or hollow at best.

Due diligence on the training front is an absolute requirement for all new registrants.  The registrants need to ensure there is substance, relevancy and credibility to the training programs being offered. More importantly, research the actual trainers providing the course materials – remember, you get what you pay for.  A good rule of thumb: if it is free, you are probably wasting your time.

Surina Hart, the director of education for Right At Home Realty (RAH), who heads up RAH University, says, “Having taught the OREA courses, I have become intimate about the training the registrants receive and the gap that exists before that registrant completes their first deal.   The problem is many registrants feel that upon completion of the registrant courses they are ready to sell, and I can tell you they are not yet in that position.”

Hart says, “Inadequate introductory training is a key factor in why so many individuals leave the industry after only two years in the business, not to mention the negative impact they have on the public who are interacting with them.”

We need to continue learning, expanding and developing our core skills, on top of taking the required continuing education courses. 

Knowledge will only make you a better Realtor. Take general business or communication courses such as Dale Carnegie or Toastmasters. The FRI designation is a great way to continue growing and moving your career to the next level.  Let’s ensure our industry continues to improve internally so our profession can be truly called a profession and receive the appropriate respect.  We need to be able to demonstrate value to consumers in order to justify our commissions and communicate our true value proposition to the public.  What we deliver is value. We just need to get the word out.

Don Kottick is the president and broker of record of Right At Home Realty, which has six offices and more than  2,300 salespeople and brokers.  According to Real Trends, Right At Home Realty is ranked 7th in units and 8th in volume for all of Canada, and is Canada’s largest independently owned brokerage.



  1. Speaking strictly of Ontario, it is abundantly clear that the veterans of real estate writing and responding to these articles realize that the “new” agent graduating through OREA and subsequently licensed by RECO is under qualified and often dangerous when they enter the field.

    In my view, demonstrating full proper use and understanding of forms, clauses and business etiquette would be a great place to start.

    Does anyone know where the newbie is supposed to obtain this information? They sure don’t know after OREA pre-registration courses, RECO registration approval and real estate board orientation but they can now enter the public into a legal and binding contract.

    After registering with RECO, new registrants must complete three OREA courses over the next two years; law and the commercial or residential transaction are mandatory, then a chosen elective (mortgage financing, appraisal or investment). They will learn some more practical material in the law course, the remaining two courses offer very little useful information for the new practitioner. Most participants also take these courses on-line, missing out on any real life experiences brought to class.

    It is frightening that the people in the positions of power, having the ability to change the courses and licensing required learning collectively, don’t!!

    I believe that Brokerages must take a very strong position on mandatory training for both new and experienced salespeople within their Brokerages. RECO, OREA and the Boards do make the effort, are trying and definitely acknowledge that proper training is the most important key to industry success but we obviously cannot expect our governing bodies to take full responsibility and offer all the necessary solutions.

    • Gareth:

      Nicely worded.

      Your statement… “It is frightening that the people in the positions of power, having the ability to change the courses and licensing required learning collectively, don’t!!”… directs the harsh glare of responsibility onto exactly where it belongs… on ORE’s supposed institutional conscience. I submit that there may indeed be conscientious ‘individuals’ with ORE’s bureaucratic makeup, but that as a whole, the well entrenched OREcrats who have the most to lose personally (being their upper-tier well paid positions of power) will always lean toward protecting their own economic well-being within said bureaucracies at the expense of public exposure to the revolving door syndrome of ill-equipped, unqualified ‘licensed’ Realtor-actors (for that is what current ORE produced newbes invariably are… actors). Personal bureacratic economics is at play here after all. If ORE severly restricts the initial access of wannabes to real estate ‘school’ candidacy in the first place due to a lack of incoming higher education and at least some incoming experience in the world of real estate related vocations, there will be many less wallets to be plucked from to in turn support the bureaucrats who previously had enjoyed an unconscionably elevated great living off of the seven-out-of-ten never-ending cyclical revolving door short-termer amature actors.

      I know of no other ‘profession’ that is ‘overseen’ by its governing body that operates the way ORE does… anywhere! I can’t imagine the scenarios of the legal, medical, dental, engineering etc. actually publically recognized professions having the gall to operate this way in pursuit of the maintainence of a self-interested bureaucracy. One cannot, therefore, reasonably expect the ORE bureaucracy baronage to change its stripes anytime soon, too eliminate its well-funded positions willingly… to conscientiously put many of themselves out of cushy, salaried (at the expense of naive failures-to-be), unaccountable to its paying constituents, work. Ain’t gonna happen. Thus, it is up to interested, established professional in-the-trenches Realtors to end the reign of those who continue to allow their own good names and reputations to be continually confused with and besmirched by the over abundance of short-termers who never belonged within the practice in the first place… except for what they provided in the form of a continuing flow of cold hard cash for those who choose to risk ‘your’ personal reputations within the public sphere of well-placed skepticism of the real estate game… as the skeptical public sees it.

      I know that I am going to be accused of banging on the same old drum, but to my mind, it is the only drum worth banging on these days.


      P.S.: I have a confession to make…

      If you haven’t already realized it, the poster “I thank my lucky stars that I’m not Thank God I’m not “definitley not the different Brian” is me. So is DEEP THROAT II. I thought I would find out what it would be like to be anonymous. I also thought that I would have a little fun with Hard Working Realtor, Bryan Martinkale, Martin Brainfail et al. I prefer being myself online… sticks and stones be damned.

  2. Since our beloved real estate organizations took to advertising they promote that a REALTOR is a REALTOR is a REALTOR so the common baseline education is the standard that the public will measure us againest.

    Many of the problems can also be sent back to the brokerages, they will hire anyone, sort of like throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks, if the barrier to entry in real estate was higher educational standards, the brokerages would suffer with the amount of fees they could collect, thus forcing OREA, RECO, CREA etc…to keep standards low, curning as many potential new agents throught the mill as possible. These organizations depend on membership growth and annual turnover to maintain their postions. Unless brokerages start becoming more selective and pressure these organizations for higher educational requirements this will continue as it has for the last 20 yrs.

    We keep pounding our chests we are professional, we are commisioned sales people in the eyes of the public, supported by the constant turnover in the industry so that each failed agent explains to their friends and family that they failed because the industry is a joke and thats why they quit. Sort of like the Buffini system of referrals.

    We will never overcome the general public perception of us unless we start being professional as an industry, no just pounding the drum and hope it sticks.

  3. With a Failure rate hovering between 25 to 30 % in the first year and nearly 70 % in 3 years for agents entering the indusry, and the fact that this failure rate has not really changed that much in the last 26 years, one can only make one conclusion….

    The quality of the entry criteria and education into real estate is the way it is by choice. Nobody in organized anything is that dense that they do not realize that they produce and release onto the general public totally unprepared realtors.

    Never mind the continuing education requirements that are not adding any assurance that the general public is at all protected from loose cannons running around in this industry.

    The fact of the matter is that is all about the money….. the cash-flow that is being generated for all of the various levels of organized real estate. The more people organized real estate can push thru their process of getting into the business and regardless if there is a need for more people, we keep adding more without regard to ability, need and quality.

    The Industry model is seriously broken, and we need a complete re-think in order to save the practitioners from its organized leaders and education is just one area that has been in-adequate the longest.

  4. Hi Don:

    Wise words indeed, based upon experience, and not theory, I dare say.

    There is one sentence in particular that I want to zero in on, and it is this:
    “Basing a decision to join a brokerage based on commission structure alone is a short-sighted decision, but sadly this is all too common.” By stating that “…this is all too common.”, the implication is that the majority of wannabe’s are not aiming for professionalism at all, but rather, they are aiming for the most money. Ergo, my long-standing thesis that the majority of people who cast their gaze toward becoming Realtors are simply money grubbers who are looking to do whatever that will pay them the most money, stands, and is indeed reinforced by your words.

    The real problem, as I see it, is the outright luring of these types of individuals by ORE in general and by many, but not all, brokerages. Again, the pursuit of maximum dollars by these outfits trumps the pursuit of producing high quality course graduates, rookies, survivors, and ultimately, conscientious veterans.

    I fail to see the justification-for-Realtor-success logic of ORE and “give ’em a try; let ’em sink or swim” brokerages when there is a constant turnover of amatures destined to fail within their communal ranks of claimed supposed professionals. It can only be for the money generated via dues for ORE and desk fees for brokerages etc. that this age-old practice continues. Let’s face it, it keeps these outifts in the business of constantly trying to defend a universally desparaged quasi-profession as viewed by the public.

    Let’s look at the problem this way:

    The number of Realtors in the marketplace does not drive how many transactions will occur during any given time-frame. Rather, the reverse is true; the number of transactions during any given time-frame will determine how many Realtors can survive…period. Thus, it is obvious that any given brokerage will still have access to the same number of potential transactions, no matter how many Realtors and/or soon-to-be-failures occupy desks therein. Less, but better prepared with subsequently better attitudinally equipped Realtors regarding professionalism will inevitably bring in the same amount of money to the brokerage, only the rermaining, now ALL professional Realtors will actually make more money per Realtor. I am sure that these now-enriched professionals, who would be making more money, would not mind forking over a little more money to their brokerages as the inevitable cost of conducting a very successful businesses. Said expenses are tax deductible, are they not? Brokerages would compete for ‘established’ high quality Realtors with competitve expense programs, would they not?

    Better to have less, but sugnificantly better Realtors in the marketplace, exercising professional transactions with the public, across-the-board, being busy, and not scrapping with each other over crumbs in an effort to survive another month, making a deserved good living, all the while contributing financially to the brokerages that supply these Realtors with ongoing relevant, quality education.

    That is how professionalism is developed.

    Unfortunately, no one brokerage in any given area wants to be first to take the plunge and expunge itself of the continually shooting-themselves-in- the-feet money-sniffing riff-raff when they present themselves at the door looking for an opening. Another brokerage inevitably hires them. They are easy to spot; they are verging on desparation often, but acting as if they are the next super-star sales types. Watch out for the actors. That is how they attempt to get by in life…by acting.

    Being a professional is NOT for everyone with a few bucks to risk up front, who can’t get a job anywhere else, but who have bought in to a sales job by ORE and too many brokerages expounding the POSSIBILITY (probability even?) of lots of money if YOU are one of the lucky ones, one of those rare individuals who just might be a perfect fit for the job (and the only way to find out is to give ‘er a go!). But first…get your wallet out.

    Meanwhile, the public is subjected to these newbe off-the-mark marketing wizards who hold themselves out as the sellers’ saviours.

    There are indeed those who are a perfect fit for the job as professional Realtor, going in, right from the git-go, but they are few and far between.

    What is the answer to this ongoing mess?

    Don deals with the answer after-the-fact of candidates being accepted into the fold.

    I say that the problem needs to be nipped in the bud, before candidates actually are ‘allowed’ to become candidates.

    There needs to be a high standard of education AND relevant experience that a wannabe Realtor must meet before being granted the privilege of becoming a professional vested with the weight of transacting the general publics’ most important financial transactions of their lives.

    Being a professional Realtor should not be a gambit that is thrown out there for any and all to get a kick-at-the-can roulette wheel try at.

    It’s like that old computer lingo adage…”Garbage in, garbage out.”

    The problem starts at the beginning, as all problems do.



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