An Interview with a Real Estate Broker
BGM Real Estate Team, RE/MAX Affiliates Ltd.
Real Estate Broker
See her Day in the Life video HERE!
Laurie Gagnier’s mother was a REALTOR® and you may think that she simply followed in her mother’s footsteps to become one herself, but that is far from the truth!
When she was younger, Laurie wanted to be a history professor and she went after that career. She got a Bachelors and Masters in History and even started on her PhD before deciding to change directions. After her studies, she worked in various jobs including a short time in the reserves. Soon, she came back to her family and ran the real estate business with them.
She made the jump to leave the family business and start her own. Today, she works as part of a real estate trio at BGM Real Estate Team alongside Christine and Jeff. But give her some time and she may just head out to finish that PhD someday.
The official real estate designations available are Broker Owner, Broker, and Sales Representative. While you may think the work is simply managing the buying and selling of houses, those who work in real estate use skills from areas like negotiation, psychology, behavioural science, marketing, branding, and social media.
What is your job description?
In it’s simplest form, the job description of a real estate broker is to help consumers sell or buy homes.
What is your salary range?
Real estate is a 100% commission based income. When I began in real estate in 2000, it was a good year to make $30,000. After 17 years in the business, I am fortunate to be in the $250,000 to $400,000 range depending on the year. That income may look good as a single figure, but this can be an expensive business to run!
What education is required for working in real estate? What education do you have?
There are no education requirements for real estate sales which makes it a very open field and one which does not discriminate. Personally, I have a Master’s degree.
What experience and other requirements are needed to work in real estate?
In Ontario, you have to take several online courses through the Ontario Real Estate Association. Then you must take several apprenticeship style courses within 2 years of receiving your real estate licence. Once completed, a 2-year cycle of credit requirements begins (must perform 24 credits every two years) as part of a continuing education program offered by the Real Estate Council of Ontario.
What skills are useful for the job?
The ability to listen is paramount. Without the ability to truly listen to potential clients, you will miss the mark on what they want. Equally important are communication skills. Consumers expect you to be timely and efficient in your communications. In addition, time management, organization, technical savvy, and marketing experience are useful.
What tools are used in your work?
Real estate revolves almost completely around the internet. The Multiple Listing Service® is owned and operated by REALTORS® across Canada and we use this daily to find and list properties. Online client records management applications (CRMs) like DotLoop, Authentisign, Docusign are pervasive in the work as we deal with clients and legal documents. Marketing tools like Microsoft Publisher and design applications like Canva are helpful. Plus, since business is promoted anywhere from print advertising to radio to TV to social media, we need to have tools to manage all those at the ready!
A REALTORS® primary and most important tool? Their cell phone!
What is it like to be a Real Estate Broker?
What are the main tasks when people are selling their homes?
- Comparative market analysis
- Pricing strategies
- Staging assistance
- Paperwork for listing the home
- Arranging for professional photography
- Installing signage
- Managing social media and marketing strategies
- Arranging showings and open houses of the home
- Negotiating offers
- Following up with banks, lawyers, and other professionals
- Following up with the client monthly, quarterly, and yearly
What are the main tasks when people are buying homes?
- Listening to the buyer’s requirements (and those of their families)
- Searching intensively for appropriate properties
- Showing homes
- Providing honest advice about each home
- Preparing and negotiating offers
- Coordinating with banks, mortgage brokers, lawyers, inspectors, and other professionals
- Following up with the client monthly, quarterly, and yearly
The best part…Naturally, the moment that any buyer walks into their next home is a very special moment. Sometimes I get to see it dawn on them before they even realize it.
What is your workplace like?
I work in a bright, open, and often busy office that I share with my business partners, Christine and Jeff.
What are the work hours like?
Essentially, a REALTOR® is on duty 24/7. Work hours fluctuate with seasons as well as with the building of your clientele. Typically between March and July, I work 7 days a week for 12-16 hours a day doing a mix of working with the client and managing the business. In the slower months, the workload slows to anywhere from 20-60 hours a week. Since you basically own your own business as a real estate broker, your hours can vary depending on how you want to run it.
What is the workload like?
The workload is really what you make it. If you are serious and passionate about helping people buy and sell homes, it doesn’t feel like a “load.”
Describe a typical workday in the life of a real estate broker.
Good REALTORS® thrive on the atypical days! No two days are the same in real estate and even if you plan out your day, one phone call can alter it dramatically. That being said, about 90% of a given workday consists of some combination of the following tasks:
- Working on the business (about 1-2 hours)
- Answering emails from clients, colleagues, and associated professionals
- Researching homes for both active and passive clients
- Creating advertisements
- Managing social media
- Writing and negotiating an offer (if we are lucky)
- Meeting with clients and showing homes (on evenings and weekends)
Our team has a very client-centric focus. We are not here to simply put a transaction together and disappear. Instead, we care about the people and families we are helping. We’ve spent years building a reputation of going above and beyond which, we are proud to say, has built a business based on 98% repeat and referral clients!
Advice for Future Real Estate Brokers
What financial implications are there when starting out?
You have to have about $20,000 set aside before you start. It can take up to 6 months before you make your first sale. Plus, there can be delays like when you sell a house in March, but the home only changes ownership in June, as a realtor, you would get paid in June for that house. Don’t be shy to interview some REALTORS® in order to get an accurate description of the costs associated with the business!
How will real estate evolve in the next 5 years?
There have been many attempts to get the “REALTOR®” out of real estate. Zillow tries to offer an appraisal for your home, Google is playing with the ability to view homes in VR, etc. These kinds of businesses and technologies could be game changers.
Top career tip.
Talk to established and successful REALTORS® before taking the plunge to find out the pros and cons. Most of us dove into the deep end and floundered for a while.
Top job hunting tip for realtors.
When setting up as a REALTOR®, you will be solicited by numerous franchises once licenced. Shop around and find an office, franchise, or team where you feel you will flourish and get the best kind of hands-on training.