Is this profession for you?
The profession of real estate or mortgage broker is a complex and demanding one: the role goes way beyond that of a simple “house seller” or “mortgage finder”! It is a captivating and diverse career that requires diligent effort and great customer service on a daily basis.
Before you take the plunge, find out if you have the right profile, and make sure that you understand every aspect and detail of this work environment.
The broker's role
A real estate broker acts primarily as a bridge between a buyer and a seller, or a lessor and a lessee, to ensure that the transaction is fair and equitable for both parties. A mortgage broker, for his part, acts as a bridge between a buyer and a lender. He can also act on behalf of a homeowner looking to renew his mortgage.
In this profession, a relationship of trust with the client is crucial: as a broker, you must put your client’s interests before your own and provide expert advice to address his concerns.
You will need to guide, advise and reassure your client with a high level of professionalism throughout the transaction process.
How do you do that? Some of your personality traits can help you gain the skills you need to act knowledgeably and responsibly.
The attributes you need
Your character, along with everything that makes up your individuality, will greatly impact your success as a broker. Are you a go-getter who likes to work with the public, to negotiate and take risks? Then this profession could be for you! But remember that you will need to put in a lot of hard work. To succeed in this extremely competitive field, you need to learn to combine your business acumen and your drive.
A broker is both a professional and a small business manager. You must be able to work with autonomy, efficiency and discipline, and have great organizational skills.
In addition, before you can embark on this profession, you will have to have certain skills, including a working knowledge of French, a basic knowledge of math, and some basic computer skills.
A good broker:
- is self–confident, has a basic knowledge of marketing and knows how to market himself;
- shows initiative, determination and perseverance;
- is a good listener and acts with tact and diplomacy;
- is able to gauge the value of information using verifiable and quantifiable criteria;
- is conscientious and detail-oriented;
- is meticulous in the drafting of documents;
- is comfortable working alone and managing his own small business.
The real estate broker
If you are not comfortable with the idea of doing soliciting work, this career is not for you! Among other things, you must enjoy doing research and poring over documents (land registers, deeds of loan and sale, legal documents, etc.). Everything you write for your clients must be flawless to ensure they are adequately protected.
You must also be able to sell yourself in order to encourage clients to do business with you. You must build and maintain a network of professionals (building inspectors, notaries, land surveyors, etc.) who will be able to assist you and inform your clients.
You will need to learn the principles of collaboration between real estate brokers, in order to bring as many transactions as possible to their successful completion. Because brokerage is a profession which is governed by the Real Estate Brokerage Act, collaboration is mandatory, and each broker must behave in a way that will ensure successful collaboration.
More specifically, a residential real estate broker must:
- understand the economic factors that impact the real estate market;
- have an in-depth knowledge of the territory in which he plans to work;
- be able to estimate the market value of a property based on its construction and condition;
- analyze legal documents such as the land register, deeds of loan or sale, etc.;
- manage a budget and properly maintain records, registers and accounts;
- be interested in and at ease with math;
- be familiar with the laws and regulations governing real estate brokerage;
- be able to manage stress and meet deadlines;
- work long hours every week, with a variable schedule that includes nights and weekends;
- when faced with a potential impasse, look at every possible option to find solutions to everyone’s satisfaction.
A commercial real estate broker must, in addition:
- analyze the market (competition, strategic location, leasing policies, buyer and seller behaviours);
- find purchase, sale or leasing opportunities for commercial or industrial space;
- help his client determine the most advantageous price;
- rely on his network of contacts.
A real estate broker must also be skilled as an evaluator, a consultant, a facilitator and a confidant… In other words, be prepared to wear more than one hat at once!
The mortgage broker
The attributes needed by a good mortgage broker are a little bit different from those of a real estate broker. Contenders for this profession must love to play with numbers and be skilled at analyzing and finding solutions for their clients. Thoroughness and attention to detail are also needed in order to keep a close eye on files in progress.
Knowledge and interests of the mortgage broker:
- Ability to explain complex terms;
- Ability to familiarize himself with hundreds of mortgage products and to compare them to highlight their pros and cons;
- Familiarity with various computer tools, as most lender platforms are computerized;
- Ability to manage budgets and to keep records, registers and accounts;
- Understanding of the economic factors that impact the real estate market;
- Ability to manage stress and meet deadlines;
- Knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern real estate and mortgage brokerage;
- Familiarity with the vocabulary of real estate and mortgage brokerage.
What about the money?
At the beginning, your income will be unstable and may not be what you expected. You may have to wait a few months before you receive your first payment, commonly known as “commission”. You can prepare for this by making sure you have a start-up fund; this will be very useful to meet your basic expenses at the beginning of your career. For instance, you may need some cash to pay for your licence to practice.
Mortgage brokers are currently remunerated in two ways:
- A broker acting on behalf of a banner is paid a base salary plus commission, as applicable;
- An independent broker is paid by commission only.
Real estate brokers do not receive a salary as such. Their income comes from the remuneration they earn, i.e. a percentage of the selling price of a property or a fixed amount agreed to in the brokerage contract.
Training and examination first, then the licence
If you have what it takes to become a broker, you must:
- sign up for one of the mandatory basic training programs recognized by the OACIQ;
- then, pass the entrance examination into the profession;
- after that, you can apply for an OACIQ licence. You will need to prove that you have a working knowledge of Québec’s official language that is appropriate to the activities of a broker.
Once you have successfully completed all these steps, you will officially be able to obtain your brokerage licence.
Congratulations! You are now a real estate or mortgage broker!
Up to the challenge
The scope of the broker’s job is impressive, but so is the level of satisfaction you will derive from it: it is an exciting profession that merits serious consideration. Remember that in order to be convincing, you have to have an excellent grasp of your field of activity right from the start. By developing your skills, you will facilitate your professional growth and ensure success in your career.
In fact, the most successful brokers are those who are continually improving their skills in order to keep pace with the demands of a constantly evolving market. All Québec real estate stakeholders understood this reality. That’s why the Mandatory Continuing Education Program was implemented. Under this program, several training activities are available to you. The OACIQ Continuing Education Department will be very helpful to you in this regard. You can also count on your real estate board and your agency, if applicable, to help you expand your knowledge.
This notion is key: in order to be among the best and to provide unsurpassed service to your clients, you must remain alert and adapt constantly. By regularly pushing the envelope, you will avoid standing still and will always continue to grow!