Agents: What Continuing Education Courses Should You Take?

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) which regulates the real estate industry has taken over Continuing Education to a large extent.

Previously, this was a field occupied by independent education developers, some small, some medium sized focussing on adult education and some large like the Ontario Real Estate College owned and operated by OREA.

Continuing education was largely driven by credits, one credit for each hour of learning. An agent required 24 credits every 2 years for renewal of their registration.

Many boards throughout Ontario offered programs regularly. They were also given the authority to award credits.

Now, RECO has changed the system. Effective July 2015, renewals required completion of RECO’s online program. It takes 6 hours, you can’t speed it up and it costs $44.00. That system continues to this day.

I might mention that that a 3 hour course from a board would have cost $45.00. So, this is one dollar cheaper and all of the credits are paid for at once. Typically, and agent would pay for 24 hours of credits and that would cost $360.00. Now, the cost is $44.00, so we have $316.00 savings per renewal. Essentially, that works out to 4 renewals since 2015 or $1,264.00 for each registrant.

The New Economics

Let’s assume roughly 60,000 agents in Ontario, renewing every two years. They would pay $10,800,000 in continuing education fees, or $21,600,000 in the two year cycle. A good deal of that money went to boards.

Now, it all goes to RECO, that is, $2,640,000 every two years. You will see that toady there is a substantially lesser amount paid by the real estate industry for continuing education.

There are now over 90,000 registrants in 2022, so almost one third of the present agents were unaware of the old system.

Also, education has gone down to 6 hours every two years rather than 24 hours.  This is due for a change in 2022, since RECO would like continuing education to be an annual requirement.

Agents are saving both time and money on education. The question, of course, is whether or not, that’s good or bad!

Where Have all the Boards Gone?

Actually, simple enough, they just went out of business. If they offered courses and employed people in an education department, they likely no longer do. That’s all gone! There are no education departments anymore, just a few of the larger ones.

No money, no courses, no people, no education

See the “economics” section here. No money, no courses, no people, no education. Pretty much that explains it all.

Approved Courses

A problem initiated by RECO was the approval of a whole range of training programs. The only thing that would not be approved is a course designed to get you more business, develop leads, advertise for more buyers and sellers and run a more profitable business. Those were all “out” and not permitted at all.

The problem was that RECO did approve just about any kind of a course that related to offering an improved level of service to clients. So, arranging furniture was in, fixing up the house before sale was in, as well as how to operate your smartphone. After all, if you couldn’t answer your phone properly, then how could you properly look after your clients?

Consequently, one day, RECO simply decided to change the whole system from bottom to top. So, they moved to the new system in July 2015. The question is: whether they threw the baby out with the bath water?

Where did all the Education Providers Go?

They went away, and just closed up shop, No new programs from OREA. If education providers offered programs in other Provinces and the United States, then they simply left Ontario. Independents had no incentive so they stopped.

Boards generally don’t offer continuing education programs any more. So, there is no “venue” for programs.

RECO has left it up to the individual real estate practitioner and the Brokerages to seek out and have their own programs.

How’s that working?

Obviously not well. There’s no money in the system. Individual agents are generally content to have 6 hours for $44.00 as the solution.

Brokerages don’t pay. Individuals don’t pay. And no one has a source of independent education.

The Training Courses: “Getting Leads and Objection Handling”

These programs are still around. They are two and three day workshops. Agents will pay money if they think they can leverage these courses to make money.

More leads seems fine, but what about the “objection handling” courses? Are they not simply contrary to one’s fiduciary duties? Should an agent not be following their client’s instructions rather than fighting and arguing with them? And, don’t forget learning and memorizing scripts about getting the client to change their mind! That’s the essence of objection handling. However, it’s contrary to the fiduciary duty of “obedience”.

Implications at Trial

The lack of courses will militate against an agent accused of professional negligence.

In cross-examination in Court an agent will be asked how many continuing education courses they have taken in the last several years, other than those which are required for their RECO renewal.

Here, you need to say something more than “How to Advertise on Facebook”, “Objection Handling” or “How to Use Your Smartphone” particularly if you want to impress the Trial Judge.

You need to have courses in how to serve and protect your client rather than how to make more money.

Sadly, as time goes forward, we really only have the lead generation and objection handling training courses. These were never approved by RECO “for credit”, but that’s all we have.

An agent should take some courses to improve their own knowledge, and at the very least, be able to say that they took “something” towards their continuing education just like every other “professional”.

Covid – 19 Update

The good news with Covid is that a number of Boards have started offering Courses over the Zoom format. For agents who are at home, this is a blessing. It would be a substantial improvement to see the Boards back in the education business.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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