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It’s a common misconception that “anybody can be a real estate agent.” Although that’s not necessarily true, there are a ton of people with their licenses. With over 108,000 agents in Canada, that’s one agent for every 245 Canadians.

The problem is that very few of that mass of agents are successful. In Toronto real estate, one of the hottest markets in the country, dozens of bids are submitted for one home, meaning dozens are going away empty-handed.

Being a real estate agent is not a nine-to-five job. Viewings happen all the time, and homes become available all the time, so agents need to be ready to drop everything to help their clients.

So what makes a good real estate agent? Here are the qualities you’ll need to possess if you plan on hitting it big helping others buy and sell property.

You enjoy autonomy

Being a real estate agent has similarities to being self-employed. Although you’re part of a team of agents and support staff, your success is dependent on no one else but you. You have to be self-driven even if your agency is giving you leads, and you have to develop your own schedule and structure. While your boss may give you some direction and advice, your paycheque is based on your ability to buy and sell.

You’re extremely organized

It’s not uncommon to be helping multiple clients at the same time. Each client is going to have different expectations, from the size and type of home to its location and features, so you have to keep them straight. Buying a home is a considerably complicated transaction, so you have to keep paperwork in order, have plenty of contacts, and be on a strict schedule for viewings and meetings.

You’re willing to work 24/7

Being a real estate agent is not a nine-to-five job. Viewings happen all the time, and homes become available all the time, so agents need to be ready to drop everything to help their clients. Because your income is 100 per cent based on commission, you want to be ready to drop everything. The more work you’re doing and the more clients you’re helping, the more money you’re making.

This means you can never make solid plans, as you might have to make an offer on a house or go to a last-minute showing at any time, including evenings and weekends. That said, it’s a high-sacrifice, high-reward career, as some top agents make big bucks.

You enjoy speaking with people

This isn’t a career path for introverts. You have to deal with people in all walks of life: other real estate agents, clients of all creeds, real estate lawyers, mortgage brokers, support staff, staging consultants, sellers and buyers who aren’t your clients—the list is essentially endless. You have to know your stuff and be able to convey information in a friendly, concise, efficient manner, otherwise you won’t get anything accomplished on your own.

You have a strong financial understanding

Buying a home is a complex transaction—it’s likely the most complicated process an average buyer will encounter in their lifetime. As an agent, you have to understand the ins and outs of these transactions, including all exceptional fees and how the process works. If business and math weren’t your strongest subjects in high school, you can still be an agent; it just might be a bit tougher to succeed. Clients want to know their agent has a grasp on money, mortgages, and financing, so it’s important you have a passion for that (or can at least get the job done).

You can handle having your morals tested

Unlike working in retail or supply chain management, real estate agents will have their morals tested. Agents should have strength of character and a good moral compass, as they’re dealing with people’s life savings. You walk a line of wanting clients to buy and finding what’s best for them. You’ll also be negotiating on their behalf, sometimes in heated situations, so you have to be strong yet co-operative.

Essentially, in order to be successful in real estate, you have to be ready for anything. This isn’t a career for someone who doesn’t enjoy challenges. It is challenging to aid buyers in finding the right home, submitting a strong enough offer to seal the deal, while also having the ability to showcase a home, sell it for the right amount, and deal with a multitude of professionals.

Real estate is a rewarding, worthwhile industry, but be sure you have the right skills before diving in.

Zoocasa is a real estate agency and brokerage based in Toronto, Ontario.

Photos: monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock

Toronto real estate, real estate careers