REALTORS® vs Brokers vs Agents – Real Estate Titles in Ontario (2023)

A REALTOR® is a member of organized Real Estate. They can be either a Sales Representative or a Broker. Learn more about the differences here
By: Baron Alloway

If you’ve been looking to buy or sell your home in Ontario, there’s no doubt you’ve already encountered countless webpages of content to help. Whether its a property search page, checklist, or step-by-step guide, there seems to be no end of content promoting services offered. All this content is being produced and marketed by people who are trying to offer to assist you with your search. If you’ve spent time on a variety of these sites, you’ve no doubt seen a peppering of agent pages, with titles such as REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Sales Representative, and more. But what exactly are these titles, and how do they impact you as a future homebuyer or seller?

Real Estate Regulation in Ontario

To understand each of these titles, we must first understand how Real Estate trading is structured in Ontario.

The organization that oversees Real Estate in Ontario is the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). RECO is run by a Registrar, who’s responsibilities are as wide and varied as Real Estate itself. One of these duties is overseeing the process of education and certification of Real Estate Professionals.

Until Recently, the Registrar had appointed the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to be the designated education provider. However, a change was made to appoint Humber College in 2019. More information on education can be found here.

A Real Estate Professional who is licensed to practice (or “trade”) in Ontario is referred to as a Registrant. Registrants have successfully completed the designated education program, undergone various background checks, and deemed acceptable by the Registrar to trade in Real Estate.

Salespersons and Brokers

In Ontario, Registrants are divided into two categories. Salespersons (also known as Sales Representatives) are the lower tier of practitioners. Salespersons must be registered with a Real Estate Brokerage, and are overseen by a Broker.

A Broker has undergone additional training over and above that of a Salesperson, and is responsible for overseeing the salespersons in the office. Both Salespersons and Brokers have a mandatory continuing education requirement that must be met every registration cycle (2 years).

Apart from the ability to oversee branch offices or run their own brokerage, there is no other distinction between a Salesperson and a Broker. Both parties can equally trade any asset class of Real Estate.

The term Real Estate Agent, though widely used, is not considered the correct title for someone trading in Real Estate. In fact, the concept of Agency contemplates that the “Agent” is actually the Brokerage itself, not the employee.

How Do I know if Someone Is Registered?

RECO has provided a useful Registrant Search Tool on their website, allowing the public to verify if someone is registered. If someone claiming to be a Real Estate professional does not appear on this tool, they may be attempting some form of fraudulent activity and should not be treated as an agent.

Organized Real Estate, and the role of REALTOR®

The Term REALTOR® is a trademark by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). A REALTOR® is someone who is a member of this organization. Depending on the location of the individual, they may also be a member of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and a local board, such as the Toronto Real Estate Board.

REALTORS® Have various advantages over standard Registrants. In addition to access to a local Real Estate board and MLS® Listings, REALTORS® must adhere to a strict code of ethics. Access to additional courses, trainings, continuing education, and further certifications are all also benefits of working with a REALTOR®. More information on benefits can be found on CREA’s Website.

Up until recently, RECO still mandated that those who were registered, despite being members of organized Real Estate, still had to refer to themselves by their RECO-standard names (Salesperson or Broker). However, a bill was recently passed in Ontario that allows REALTORS® to designate themselves as such. This means that someone describing themselves as a REALTOR® could be either a Sales Representative or a Broker.

Catalyst is aiming to make the process different, by pairing REALTORS® with Lawyers from day one of the Real Estate Transaction. Legal fees are covered in the commissions already paid to the brokerage, contingent on closing.

Do you have further questions about REALTORS® and their role in Real Estate? Why not Contact Us for more information.

Baron Alloway
Baron Alloway is the Broker of Record at Catalyst. As a trained engineer, Baron brings with him an extensive by-the-book amount of knowledge to the Real Estate World. Contact Baron today and have him help you buy or sell your next home.

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