An Interview with a Real Estate Broker
Real Estate Broker,
RE/MAX Affiliates / BGM Real Estate Team
Christine Bussieres grew up in a sales and service environment. Her father was a Ski-doo dealer and he also did housing construction during the summers. When it came time to decide on a career, Christine wanted to escape the retail and real estate life and studied both music and administration. However, her music career did not pay the bills and her administration career was too restrictive. She learned that she missed interacting with people so she returned to real estate as a career joining the BGM Team as a real estate broker alongside partners Laurie and Jeff.
In this interview, we’ve worked with Christine to capture what her job is like and how she got to where she is today. If you are considering a career in real estate, this is a great resource to get an inside look at how one person is living that life. We also invite you to watch Christine’s “Day in the Life” video for even more insight.
What is a Real Estate Broker?
A real estate broker helps buyers and sells achieve a successful real estate transaction. They help the client to understand the real estate cycle and what implications it has on the value of their home. From there, the broker prices the property to buy or sell based on historical neighbourhood data.
What is the salary range?
Real estate is a commission based business. For a big brokerage like Re/Max, Royal Lepage, and Century 21, they like to see an agent making at least $40,000 CAD per year. Anything below that may show that the agent does not do enough transactions to be competent and current in their understanding of the inventory or the industry in general.
An individual can make $100,000 or more in a year. However, you must remember that there are a lot of expenses as well. Most expenses are for business and marketing materials like business cards, “For Sale/Sold By” signs, advertising, and business costs.
The reality is that for most people working alone, it is difficult to do more than 20 to 25 transactions in a year given the preparation and follow-up required for each transaction. The numbers are higher for those who work in teams with at least one administrative support person present.
What education is required?
In Ontario, the Real Estate course can be done in 2 to 3 months. I do not think this is sufficient for promoting a high level of expertise in the field.
What experience is needed?
Since a large part of your work as a real estate broker has to do with counselling your clients, it is important to have a good amount of life experience. A background in psychology or communications would also be a very good asset in real estate.
What skills or traits as useful in Real Estate?
The best traits for those considering real estate are a strong desire to help others, the capacity to list and suspend judgement, as well as having a lot of energy.
LISTEN, LISTEN, AND LISTEN AGAIN. That is what all real estate agents need to do in order to succeed.
What tools are used in your work?
Cell phone, iPad, and personal computer. You need to be familiar with social media as well in order to promote listings or communicate with clients regularly.
What is your work like?
What is your workplace like?
Our team’s office is a satellite of a larger Re/Max office located in Orléans, the east end of Ottawa. We have negotiated a location based on the market we want to serve which is not common in the real estate business. Most other agents have a small office around 5×8 feet unless they work in a large team environment where they lease a space in a large office of 50+ agents.
What are your work hours like?
As a real estate broker, there are no set hours. People expect you to be available when they need you and that means evenings and weekends are fair game! I would say, if you have a young family, there may be a lot of sacrifices to achieve a successful career.
Generally, spring is the busiest season so during that time I am working 7 days a week for 4 to 5 months straight. In the fall, early September to late October is also a busy time. Then from November to mid-January, things slow down so it is time to prepare for the next year of business including budget planning and analysis. It is also a great time to get away!
Describe a typical workday.
- 6:00 AM: Wake up, drink coffee, read a book, and take a short walk.
- 7:00 AM: Wake the family and eat breakfast.
- 8:00 AM: Travel to the office, check emails, do market research, and return phone calls.
- 10:00 AM: Show houses to buyers.
- 12:30 PM: Eat lunch.
- 1:00 PM: Have client appointments.
- 3:00 PM: Show more houses to buyers.
- 5:00 PM: Go back home to have supper with the family.
- 6:30 PM: Show more houses or meet with a prospective seller.
- 8:30 PM: Go back home and prepare lunch for tomorrow.
- 10:00 PM: Go to sleep.
How is your job different from others in Real Estate?
In our office, we have only three agents and we basically do that same type of work. What is different between us and others in the real estate business is that we decided many years ago to build our businesses on a referral and repeat basis. That means most of our clients are either repeat clients or have been referred by previous clients.
OUR TEAM. We have the same ethics and believe in supporting each other. If one person is very busy, we will work together. If we all have a quiet day at the office, we take the day off to spend time with our families.
How did you get here?
I grew up in a retail sales and service environment. My father was a Ski-doo dealer and he also did housing construction during the summers which is what first exposed me to real estate. When it came time to decide on a career, I tried to escape the retail and real estate life by doing a music degree and then an administration degree. However, my music career did not pay the bills and I found administration too restrictive. I realized I missed interacting with people so I chose to enter real estate and become a real estate broker.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
An airplane pilot.
What is next for you?
I want to work another 5 to 10 years and solidify our brand in the marketplace.
What is your passion? My family and my business.
What do you love most about your job?
I love to put a deal together. It is very rewarding when a person or a family finds a house they really like and you make that deal happen for them. The same goes for sellers when they are selling an old family home that has been in the family for 20, 30, or even 40 years. It is an emotional experience and if all goes smoothly, I find it very rewarding.
What would you change about your career?
I am happy with my career; however, I find the requirements to enter real estate to lax and I would like to see more control of the candidate requirements as well as a wider curriculum. This goes for both the real estate representative and real estate broker curriculums.
What are useful traits for future Real Estate Brokers?
You need to be empathetic, good at listening, well organized, a good communicator, and a good negotiator. You also need to have enough energy to support the stress which may include working long periods without days off for weeks or months at a time.
What are useful abilities for people considering your career?
Be familiar with computer software that are Windows-based for accounting and general marketing design. Also, have an understanding of social media and how it can affect your business.
Advice for someone interested in real estate?
Be able to support yourself financially for a least six months before starting in real estate. This is a minimum amount to cover you from the day you start your course to the time you have an accepted offer to the time you receive your first cheque.
How will real estate change in the next 5 years?
I don’t expect many more changes. Thanks to technology, we now have access to great pictures and video to help buyers determine what property they would like to purchase and for the sellers to better present their homes.
Real estate is a people business and that will not change. We need strong, caring individuals to help clients navigate the process successfully. For most people, their home is the biggest asset both financially and emotionally. As people advance in life, the need to protect that asset becomes increasingly important. Real estate agents will still need to exist to ensure people’s homes are protected as the asset they are.
Future real estate broker career tips
Start to visit all new construction projects in the neighbourhood you want to work in. Go to all the open houses and engage with the other REALTORS® to see how they act. Would you like to work in an office with them?
Start a list of everyone you know, get their contact information, and tell them about your career plan. Invite them to visit when you do an open house.
Ask a successful agent out for a quick lunch and pick their brain.
Also, pay attention to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) news, banking rules, and general finance trends.
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