Mentorship and Strong Work Ethic Lead New REALTORS® Through Turbulent Times

In a whirlwind market, new REALTORS® (members of CREA for a year or so) are discovering that to get ahead, mentors are more important than ever. That, along with working hard to learn as much as they can about their local neighbourhoods and clients.

In recent months, we’ve seen most markets across Canada continue to struggle with low inventory, while at the same time, the Bank of Canada has raised interest rates to help rein in inflation—the economy has seen major shifts since 2022 began.

Are you a new member of CREA? Welcome to the REALTOR® community! As your national association, CREA works in cooperation with your local board and provincial or territorial association, to ensure as a REALTOR®, you’re recognized as a trusted and respected voice and expert in real estate. Learn more about what resources are available to you on We’ve also put together a course on everything you need to know as a new member of CREA. Access the course on the CREA Learning Hub and complete it at your own pace.

For new REALTORS® that means they’re experiencing a degree of turbulence that more experienced colleagues may have weathered over the years.

It’s at this challenging juncture that mentorship becomes a key factor in helping navigate shifting market conditions, as well as providing a foundation to properly learn the business.

“One thing I wished I had known before I started in the realty business was the importance of having a mentor,” says Andre Sheppard, a REALTOR® and salesperson with RE/MAX Hallmark First Realty Group based in Ajax, Ontario, on his working situation after having about a year’s worth of experience. “I didn’t have a mentor in the beginning but finding one after a while has made a big difference.”

Andre Sheppard
Andre Sheppard

Finding a mentor

Sheppard says his colleague Kenneth Toppin showed him how to build and expand his business. “Just seeing Kenneth’s work ethic day to day has been super important for me in learning what to do in this business,” he says.

Tried-and-true techniques such as door knocking and developing the right script require fortitude and becoming comfortable takes practice. Like most agents starting out, Sheppard found it daunting, even though one of his strongest skills is his ability to speak easily and comfortably with almost anyone.

“My first door knock was uncomfortable. I didn’t have a script and people might look at you differently when you’re younger,” he says. “But Kenneth helped and I’ve since come up with a script that works for me. I’ve found the fear factor goes away after doing it awhile.”

Building a pipeline of business before he got his licence would have also been an important step before hitting the ground running, says Sheppard. “I wish I had something ready to go like a client list that would have got me started sooner but that’s another thing when you’re younger—you don’t have as much to draw on.”

Not a member yet? To become a REALTOR®, you must be a licensed real estate professional who is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Learn how to become a REALTOR® in Canada.

Building your network

Another element for REALTORS® who are beginning their careers at a relatively young age, often in their 20s, is they usually haven’t developed a sphere of influence to rely on for traction in starting their client lists—even though most have already gained considerable experience using social media.

Complicating this issue is that given the price pressures fuelled by low housing supply, younger buyers are finding it a challenge to purchase homes.

“It’s just usually hard for someone my age to be able to afford a house, so that’s been maybe my biggest challenge so far, though I’m working on it,” says Sheppard, who has turned his early love and fascination for real estate programs such as Property Brothers into his full-time career.

Using the skills you already have

Max Barton, a REALTOR® and associate with Chamberlain Real Estate Group in Calgary, Alberta, is in his 20s. Barton parlayed some of the business and people skills he learned as a chef into his career transition to real estate. After returning to Canada from New Zealand at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barton discovered cooks and chefs in Alberta and across Canada were struggling.

Max Barton
Max Barton

“I was able to translate a lot of what I learned as a chef,” says Barton, who now speaks from a year’s worth of experience in real estate. “As a chef, you run micro-businesses, you run your own marketing, ordering, and team, and work directly with people. The biggest part that translates is working with people and understanding their motivations and who they are.”

The most important thing he’s learned in his first year of being a REALTOR® is patience; not just to be patient himself, but also to guide clients so they can understand what’s required in a low inventory market and help them not give up if the first offer doesn’t work.

“I’ve learned from each offer, and, with that experience, I have been able to fine-tune how I work with client so that they can be on a happier path,” he says. “It’s similar when negotiating on multiple contracts—you learn from your frustrations and move forward.”

Barton says his own experience buying and selling his first home sparked his decision to get into the business. He purchased his second home in Calgary and found two REALTOR® mentors, Rob Campbell and Matthew Antrum.

On REAL TIME episode 17, we welcomed four REALTORS® spanning four age demographics to share their personal experiences and approach to working with clients from different generations. Listen now.

Get social

Like Sheppard, Barton is well-versed in using social media tools to build his business.

One thing Barton prides himself on is the time he puts into knowing the intricacies of his local neighbourhoods. His best tip for other REALTORS® starting out is to walk the neighbourhood, be there long enough to discover the vibe, know what restaurants and schools are nearby, and learn what kind of houses are up and coming.

“My advice for others new to the business is to keep your ears open, trust the advice of your more experienced [agents] and don’t be afraid to try something new, such as door knocking, that’s out of your comfort zone,” says Barton.

Keane Yu is a salesperson and REALTOR® in Vancouver who got his real estate licence after seeing the opportunities available to his brother Wesley Yu, who has been a REALTOR® in the city for about 10 years. Coming to the industry with a solid background in video and online marketing,  Yu is focused on using Instagram as a primary tool for differentiating himself in a large and competitive market.

Keane Yu
Keane Yu

Across Canada, Young Professionals Networks (YPN) are creating valuable opportunities for newer members of the REALTOR® community. CREA’s national YPN Connection program looks to support these efforts while creating a connected ecosystem of #REALTORypns who share and learn from each other. Learn more.

“I see a lot of REALTORS® reply on templated posts with new listings but I create content with videos on the fly so people can know who I genuinely am, so it is a different approach,” says Yu. “A tip that I can offer other REALTORS® is to do Instagram Stories throughout the day, so those posts will push you to the top of what is getting scrolled.”

Yu says he didn’t have to struggle to find the right brokerage for him and knew exactly what he wanted to do and where, partly because of the mentoring his brother provided to him.

“Mentors are so important,” says Yu, who has made a point of meeting other REALTORS® who have helped him with open houses and other aspects of the business.

“The one thing that I am struggling with is finding a workflow and organizing it on my desktop so that it suits me,” says Yu. “It’s all a learning process but I believe that over time I will distinguish myself if I continue to work hard.”

What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have received during your first year in business? Tell us in the Comments below.

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.

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