What to Know During Your First Year as a REALTOR®

So, you just became a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and you’re officially a REALTOR®. Now what?

For real estate professionals entering their first year of business, it can be exciting but also overwhelming. Advice from veterans in the business can help, CREA is here to help you along the way.

New to CREA? Welcome! If you haven’t already, get started by enrolling in CREA’s New Member Orientation course on the CREA Learning Hub. This course is designed to help new members understand their membership with CREA, their responsibilities as REALTORS®, and their role in the REALTOR® community. Bonus tip: make sure you’re opted in to e-mail communications and are following CREA on social media for information about how to access the full benefits of your membership.

Find a schedule you can stick to

“There’s much more a REALTOR® needs to do in their first year to set the foundation for a long and successful career,” says Asif Khan, a REALTOR® and broker/owner with Re/Max Prime Properties in Markham, Ontario.

There’s no such thing as “instant success,” he adds. For that first year, focus on aligning yourself with the right brokerage/brand, one that allows you to benefit from the collective expertise of the REALTORS® there, offers training and guidance to integrate into your daily schedule, and has an established marketing and advertising base you can piggyback off.

Khan recommends joining a coaching program to help set a foundation for success. That might include learning how to set a daily schedule, pursue lead generation, set goals and learn about marketing and advertising.

“A good coach will hold you accountable while helping you grow your business in all the right ways,” he says.

Block out time to generate new business

Rob Rudell, a REALTOR® for more than 30 years and broker with Keller Williams Lifestyles Realty in London, Ontario, says people new to the industry need to go in with the correct perspective – that they’re businesspeople as much as they as salespeople.

“Treat your career as a business and provide exceptional customer service to your clients,” he says. “The only thing you are really selling is yourself and your value proposition.”

Lead generation is your number one job – so block time in your daily calendar to lead generate, Rudell says. He agrees with Khan that the education never stops. Take classes, watch webinars, listen to other veteran REALTORS® talking about their experiences. Watch their habits, protocols and behaviour. Learn everything you can about your neighbourhood.

“The more you know, the more confident you will be when talking to people,” he adds.

In 2023, REALTOR.ca, Canada’s No. 1 real estate platform* generated 5.1 million leads for members. Make sure to keep your REALTOR.ca profile updated to make sure you don’t miss a lead from REALTOR.ca.

Not a REALTOR® yet, but looking to become one? Learn how to become a REALTOR® in Canada.

Have a financial plan in place

Alexandru Bejinariu, a REALTOR® and broker with Re/Max Regal Homes in Toronto, Ontario, says new REALTORS® would be wise to have a financial safety cushion before setting out. Account for a period in which income might be limited as you start a new commission-based career.

“Be ready to become an extrovert,” Bejinariu says. “This is a social business, be it online or in person. It’s paramount to be seen and kept top of mind within your circle of influence and beyond.”

Seek out mentorship and learning opportunities

Dexter Wilkie, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Royal LePage Atlantic, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says that, as a mentor, he walks new agents through the ins and outs of transactions and gives them experiences they might not be able to see in their first year of business, from showings and inspections to negotiations and closings.

Having real estate smarts plus financial savvy (including an emergency fund that will cover your fixed life expenses for at least six months, Wilkie says) will help get you through that first year and set you up for successes in your second year and beyond.

“The first year in real estate is truly the most challenging, but if you can successfully make it through the first year, you’re already beating the odds,” Wilkie says. “For example, I was licensed in February and my first deal didn’t close until July that same year. I incurred a decent amount of expenses in that time between showing properties, open houses and the everyday costs it takes to get your business off the ground.” 

Don’t overspend on marketing, build slow and steady

Mark Gray, a new REALTOR® and sales associate with Haupt Realty Team in Edmonton, Alberta, says that if you don’t have capital tucked away, even covering weekly fuel bills can be difficult when you have gaps in sales.

“Thankfully, the team I belong to cover costs like advertising and our client system, something I definitely could not afford on my own,” he says. “It’s a big pool, and you start in the deep end.”

Khan adds you don’t have to spend large amounts of money on marketing and advertising that first year – just spend wisely.

“This is a common mistake where new agents force themselves out of business by overspending on the wrong marketing/advertising initiatives,” he says.  “A good coach or broker will help you make the right decisions when it comes to marketing.”

The bottom line in your first year should be to establish a foundation and focus a slow and steady build for the long-term, with a business plan in hand.

Looking for more content like this? Try REAL TIME’s series The Working REALTOR® for more advice from seasoned professionals:

*Based on market share. Market share = web and mobile traffic to Canadian real estate websites on average per month, ComScore, 2023

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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