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Don't give an important job to an amateur!

Don’t give an important job to an amateur!

It’s always baffled me that the Toronto Real Estate Board doesn’t publish any real estate agent statistics. Doesn’t the public have a right to know that they’ve hired an agent who has experience?

Then again, I look at the statistics of the nearly 38,000 Toronto real estate agents (for the 12 months ending June 2013) and I shouldn’t really be that surprised:

  • 24% of agents sold absolutely nothing. Nothing!!!
  • 36% of agents (that’s 13,616 agents) sold 3 homes or less. In 12 months.
  • 57% of agents (21,748 agents) sold 8 homes or less

So then of course, you have to wonder – how many homes did the top agents sell? If an agent sold …

  • 9 homes in those 12 months, they were in the top 21%
  • 16 homes, they were in the top 8.64%.
  • 20 home sold got them in the top 5.5%
  • 30 homes got them in the top 2.23%
  • 43 homes sold got those agents in the top 1%

When I look at those statistics, it’s a little less exciting to have made the top 25 agents list in Toronto’s downtown district (C1) for those months. Though I guess my mom and dad are still proud.

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Toronto, make sure you’re working with someone who has experience and a track record of success. You don’t get your hair cut by a hairdresser trainee (who for the record, is required to get 1,500 hours of practice and do an apprenticeship). Don’t leave the sale or purchase of your biggest asset to an amateur!


  1. Tell us about your first listing Mel- I am sincerely interested in how you sold yourself in the first 2 years, I understand you did quite well? There is a TON of new agent shaming on your site, many agents I see as hungry for business and willing to bend backwards and give their clients twice the attention they’d receive otherwise.

    What is your professional advice for the capable newbies who will soon be rubbing elbows with the BREL team?

    • Ouch, I’m not sure I’d call it ‘new agent shaming’, but I do certainly maintain that experience matters (and that doesn’t just mean years of experience, that means number of transactions). My recos for new agents is pretty close to what I did:
      1- Focus on rentals for the first 6-12 months to get familiar with the condos in the city, the paperwork and building client relationships.
      2- Partner with an experienced agent (or a team) so you get the exposure without transferring any risk to the sellers
      3- Build experience with buyers so you can understand a buyer’s mindset when you go to list a property
      4- Join a brokerage that shares (so you can learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes) – eg mastermind sessions
      5- Know what you know and bring in help when needed – I see too many new agents try to BS their way through a transaction and hurt their clients in the process.
      6 -Build a trusted network of professionals (stagers, cleaners, handymen, painters) – those will be invaluable to your sellers.
      7- Build a strong brand, marketing strategy and a set of marketing tools so that when you do list a house, you have reach, a following of buyers and you can offer your clients more than just putting their home on the MLS. Anybody can do that and if you want the listing, you need to be able to offer more than that.
      8- Live and breathe the market – volunteer for open houses, attend agent open houses, make appointments to see properties on your own – and follow what those properties sell for. Pricing a house for sale is hard – you really need to know what houses look like on the inside and know why the neighbour sold for how much he sold for – the pics on MLS only tell part of the story.

      I hope my blog doesn’t give the impression that I don’t like new agents – I mentor newbies all the time and I love the fresh perspective that many of them bring to the industry. To be honest, I have way bigger beefs with agents with years of experience who sell 2 properties a year – how could they possibly be on top of the market? If an experienced agent can’t even sell their own services, how can they be trusted to sell someone’s home?

      In my dream world, all new agents would get trained on what it actually takes to sell a house so they’d all come out prepared (don’t even start me on the current mandatory courses and how they completely miss the mark on marketing, relationships and negotiation, 3 of the most important things to the biz). New agents would be mentored or partnered with an experienced agent for 6-12 months. And any agent who doesn’t close a minimum # of transactions a year would lose their license (exceptions for extraordinary circumstances of course). But of course I don’t get to run the world.

      In my life pre-real estate, I worked in the corporate world where companies don’t just hire anybody who applies (like many brokerages do), training isn’t an add-on but part of the deal, and performance is measured; new employees go through orientation, have a boss who gives them feedback and coaching and newbies work their way up to more responsibility as they get experienced. There aren’t a lot of industries that give you 100% of the responsibility and liability that you’ll ever achieve on day 1.

      • I’ve got to say, I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. As someone who has just started the course your posts and subsequent discussions has given me more insight into the industry. I have been taking notes from these posts on what makes a good and successful realtor. I think these will come in very handy! I have a question about points 2 and 3 you made.
        How do I find/ find out about the good agents or teams? This information would seem to be somewhat hidden behind the scenes.
        What is it that brokerages look for in a newbie? In my past career I was in IT. I was mainly on the management side, managing clients and vendors as well as team members. So, I think I would highlight skills related in those areas. However, I’d really like to know what brokerages look for. I feel I’ll make a strong agent, I’m just concerned about the initial start up.

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