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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Real Estate Agents and Salespersons(6232)

Real estate agents and salespersons act as agents for the sale or purchase of houses, apartments, commercial buildings, land and other real estate and are employed in the real estate industry.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read short text entries in forms. For example, they may read descriptions of houses, apartments, commercial buildings, land and other real estate in electronic list forms. (1)
  • Read memos and e-mail messages. For example, they may read memos from head offices announcing policy changes. They may read e-mail messages from clients who request information on properties and describe their requirements for space, access and services. (2)
  • Read newspapers, trade magazines, bulletins and newsletters to maintain current knowledge of matters affecting real estate. For example, they may read newspapers to learn about national and local economic conditions and industrial activity. They may read news reports from real estate councils on legal and disciplinary matters affecting real estate agents and brokerages. They may read bulletins issued by financial institutions about new types of financing and mortgage terms, rates and amortization formulas. They may also read about market trends in real estate journals and in articles posted on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website. (3)
  • Read clauses in contracts of purchase and sale, agreements to lease and other legal agreements submitted to their clients by other agents. They read these texts carefully to ascertain that the terms and conditions reflect verbal agreements protect their clients' interests and are legally binding. For example, a property purchaser's agent may review clauses in an agreement of purchase and sale which describes financing arrangements, renovations to be undertaken by vendors to meet building code standards and arrangements for inspection. (4)
  • Read legislation to verify laws and regulations and to provide advice to clients. For example, they may review the Real Estate Act to verify conditions under which disclosure of designated and dual agency must be made. They may read zoning regulations and bylaws to ascertain the absence of rules which may hinder the enjoyment of properties to be purchased by clients. Commercial real estate agents and brokers may interpret income tax regulations to assess returns on investments for income-producing real estate such as office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and shopping centres. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Locate data on signs and labels. For example, they scan Open House, For Sale, For Rent and other signs to locate real estate companies' and agents' names and telephone numbers. They scan labels on file folders for clients' names, dates and identification numbers. They may also scan labels on hot water tanks to identify capacities. (1)
  • Locate data in lists, tables and schedules. For example, they may scan menus to locate search options on the Multiple Listing Service website. They may scan tables to locate real median household incomes for various metropolitan areas. They may scan appointment schedules and daily planners to locate property-showing times and locations. (2)
  • Enter data into tables and schedules. For example, they may enter real estate sales goals and actual sales into spreadsheets. They may enter clients' names and phone numbers into daily planners and appointment schedules. (2)
  • Locate data in entry forms. For example, they may scan open house guest registration forms to locate the names, addresses and phone numbers of prospective purchasers. They may scan rental application forms to locate data on prospective tenants' occupations, present and prior employers, salaries, addresses, financial obligations and personal references. Rural real estate specialists may scan well water analysis reports to locate data on wells' locations, conditions and pumping systems. (2)
  • Complete forms such as property listings, listing agreements, purchase offers, counter offers, contracts of purchase and sale, agreements to lease, dual agency agreements, fee agreements and open house forms. They may have to combine data from several sources to complete such forms. For example, they may enter asking prices, taxes, lot and room dimensions, construction years and other property data into Multiple Listing Service, proprietary and real estate board database forms. They may also enter transaction, deposit and commission amounts and contact information about sellers, buyers and listing, co-operating and referral brokers into trade record sheets. (3)
  • Locate data in scale drawings and maps. For example, they may scan survey and floor plans to locate the dimensions and boundary angles of properties to be sold. They may scan civic planning maps to locate data about the zoning classifications and acreages of properties. (3)
  • Locate data and identify trends in graphs. For example, they may scan graphs to identify trends in the construction, sale, resale and rental of houses, condominium apartments, commercial spaces and other real estate. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write short text entries in forms and notes. For example, they may summarize conversations about locations, floor plans and other requirements in referral forms for other agents. (1)
  • Write e-mail messages, notices, memos and letters. For example, they write e-mail messages to confirm appointments and inform clients about price reductions on properties of interest. Residential real estate agents write notices to tenants about apartment showing times and congratulation letters to clients on the first anniversaries of their house purchases. Real estate sales supervisors may write memos to agents to provide direction, ask for information and respond to enquiries. (2)
  • Write text for property listings, advertisements and other marketing materials. For example, they write attention-catching descriptions and headlines for property listings, feature sheets and advertisements in newspapers, real estate magazines, television programs and Internet sites. They use plain language, short sentences and startling statements to bring out the selling features of houses, condominium units, commercial spaces and other real estate. They may also write direct marketing letters, advertorials, consumer contests and texts for websites to introduce themselves, describe their services and relevant experience, and solicit business from prospective property purchasers and vendors. (3)
  • Write clauses in legal agreements such as contracts of purchase and sale, and agreements to lease. They must be explicit and precise to ensure that all concerned parties share a common understanding of the agreements' terms and conditions. For example, they write clauses in purchase agreements to describe the conditions of properties and repairs which must be made before sales are completed. Commercial real estate agents and brokers may write leases to specify financial arrangements and to stipulate occupancy details such as common area access, garbage disposal, security, ownership of leasehold improvements, snow removal and parking lot assignments. (3)
  • Write reports such as comparative market analyses and marketing plans. For example, they may write comparative market analysis reports to summarize findings from property appraisals and business assessments, to present their opinions regarding the values of properties and to recommend appropriate improvements to clients. In these reports, they describe estimation methodologies, discuss findings and offer opinions, conclusions and recommendations. Real estate sales supervisors may prepare marketing plans to enable agents to pursue opportunities that will be profitable. Commercial real estate agents and brokers may write reports evaluating and recommending investment options to prospective buyers. (4)
  • May write articles for newspapers, trade magazines, bulletins and newsletters. For example, residential real estate agents may write articles about open houses and their effectiveness in creating a sense of urgency among potential buyers. They must address key questions about the purchase and sale of properties in an effective manner. Agents specialized in rural real estate may write about the need to document unused wells on farms. Commercial real estate brokers may write buying tips for those wishing to invest in income-producing real estate such as office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and shopping centres. They may have to gather, select and rewrite information from various sources for a mixed audience of real estate buyers, vendors and financial specialists. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Calculate and verify purchase order amounts. For example, they calculate line amounts, taxes and totals on purchase orders for newspaper and real estate guide advertisements. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Calculate amounts receivable from property and land buyers. For example, they calculate closing amounts for property sales. They subtract deposit amounts from total transaction amounts. (1)
  • Set personal appointment schedules. They allow enough time in between property showings and other appointments to return calls and complete documents. They may need to adjust their schedules because of unexpected events. (2)
  • Calculate commission amounts for listing, co-operating and referring brokers and agents involved in the sale of houses, condominium apartments, commercial spaces, land and other real estate. They multiply transaction amounts by commission percentage rates, deduct listing service and office fees and add applicable sales taxes. (3)
  • Draw up budgets for prospective real estate buyers. For example, they calculate monthly capital and interest payments on clients' mortgages taking into consideration total mortgage loan amounts, amortization periods, terms, interest rates and payment frequencies. They may suggest adjustments to clients' budgets to account for immediate repairs and improvements needed. (3)
  • May calculate the values of penalties for breaking leases in office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and shopping centres. For example, a commercial real estate agent may calculate the value of a penalty for breaking a lease in a client's apartment building. The agent adds rents due to the end of the lease, costs described by penalty clauses in the lease and the value of abandoned leasehold improvements. (3)
  • May calculate the net present and future values of rental income, net effective rents and returns on investments for income-producing properties such as office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and shopping centres. For example, a commercial broker may calculate the net present value of rental income which a client would receive from a leased property. The broker has to take into account the total rental income and expenses to be incurred over the term to obtain the total net operating income and calculate the net present value of this income at a given percentage rate. (4)
  • May prepare financial statements. For example, real estate agents may prepare monthly balance sheets, income and expense statements and statements of cash flows. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure sizes and distances using common measuring tools. For example, a real estate agent may use a stride tape to measure the perimeter of a lot. (1)
  • Calculate physical dimensions and scale distances for properties to be sold. For example, they may measure scale distances on floor plans, convert them to actual distances and calculate areas of rooms, decks and hallways. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare mortgage interest rates and repayment plans among financial institutions to determine competitiveness. (2)
  • Analyse data on the construction, sale, resale and rental of houses, condominium apartments, commercial developments and other real estate to identify real estate market trends and adapt their sales strategies accordingly. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate times needed to perform job duties. For example, they estimate times needed to visit, inspect and show properties using past experience as a guide. They estimate travelling times between properties to minimize driving and maximize the numbers of clients handled and properties visited, inspected and shown each day. (2)
  • Estimate real estate volumes for upcoming seasons. They consider real estate market trends, the strength of national and local economies and the general business climate to predict sales opportunities that will be available to them. (2)
  • Estimate property values. For example, a real estate agent may estimate the initial selling price of a condominium unit by comparing it to similar units and considering factors such as its size, age, attractiveness, construction materials, renovations, location and access to schools, shopping and transit routes. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Interact with co-workers and colleagues to coordinate the purchase, sale, rental and exchange of houses, apartments, commercial spaces and other real estate. For example, they may ask office secretaries to retrieve documents from clients' files. They may phone lawyers or notaries to set up appointments for the signature of purchase and sale agreements. They may talk to mortgage brokers and loan officers to enquire about the approval of clients' mortgages. They may speak to building inspectors to request their services on behalf of clients. Commercial real estate agents and brokers may phone property appraisers to obtain their assistance in valuating income-producing real estate such as office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and shopping centres. Rural real estate specialists may phone well-testing services to verify when well water analysis reports will be ready. (1)
  • Solicit business opportunities from clients and prospective clients. For example, a real estate agent may ask the owners of a closed and unlisted building whether they would be willing to sell it to a client who needs a neighbourhood office. (2)
  • Discuss real estate work with other agents, supervisors and brokers. For example, real estate agents may interact with brokers and supervisors to define sales objectives and discuss progress towards them. They may discuss procedures, challenges and opportunities, obtain guidance about legal and ethical matters and provide updates on the status of ongoing property and land purchase and sale negotiations. They may also exchange information about clients' needs and obtain referrals. (2)
  • Counsel and advise clients about the purchase and sale of houses, apartments, commercial buildings, land and other real estate. For example, they interact with buyers to assist them in selecting, visiting, inspecting, evaluating and making offers of purchase on real estate properties for personal occupancy and for investment purposes. They interact with real estate vendors to help them in identifying selling features, targeting markets, establishing fair asking prices, developing marketing plans, preparing properties for visits and open houses and assessing purchase offers received from prospective buyers. (3)
  • Negotiate agreements on behalf of clients. For example, they may negotiate agreements for the purchase, sale, rental, lease and exchange of houses, apartments, commercial spaces and other real estate on behalf of clients. They discuss offers and suggest counter-offers. They use persuasive arguments to obtain the prices, terms and conditions which will be the most advantageous for their clients. (4)
  • Make presentations to co-workers, colleagues, clients and community groups. For example, a residential real estate agent may talk to a group of new immigrants about the legal, technical and personal matters involved in buying a home in Canada. People attending this type of presentation may be unfamiliar with the topics presented so the agent may need to adapt presentation style and language. A commercial real estate agent may deliver a presentation to a group of clients and prospective clients about real estate investment methods, types of income-producing real estate, levels of risk, projected economic conditions and expected market demands. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Find that some clients and colleagues miss appointments and others arrive late. They diplomatically remind such clients and colleagues that they have busy schedules and that will not accommodate late arrivals and cancellations. (1)
  • Sometimes discover buyers and sellers who try to make side deals on sale conditions without informing them. They remind both parties of their legal obligations towards real estate agents and closely monitor subsequent actions. (2)
  • Cannot complete some real estate transactions because financing is not approved. They contact clients and mortgage brokers to determine why financing was declined and what can be done to rectify the situations. They may also try to find alternate financing options. (3)
  • Find that unforeseen circumstances and new information complicate ongoing real estate transactions. For example, a real estate agent renting office space on behalf of a client cannot complete a lease signing because the lessee feels that washroom facilities are inadequate. The agent tries to convince the owner to improve facilities and the prospective lessee to cover part of the cost as leasehold improvements. An agent conducting a final inspection of the house just purchased by clients may discover that brand new appliances which were part of the transaction have been replaced by old ones. The purchasing agent contacts the selling agent to determine why the new appliances are not in the house and arranges for either their return or a reduction in the selling price equivalent to their value. (3)
Decision Making
  • Select houses, apartments, commercial buildings, land and other real estate to show clients. They make their selections in the light of real estate descriptions and client's needs, preferences, budgets, expectations and timeframes. (2)
  • Decide to accept some clients' mandates and to refer others to co-workers. For example, they may decide to refer clients wishing to invest in income-producing real estate to co-workers who handle commercial real estate. (2)
  • Select content, media and tools for property advertisements and other marketing. For example, they select features to emphasize for property listings, feature sheets and advertisements. They select media such as newspapers, television networks, Internet sites and real estate magazines for property advertisements. They also select promotional tools such as open houses, marketing letters, advertorials, consumer contests and websites to introduce themselves, describe their services and relevant experience and solicit business from prospective property purchasers and vendors. (3)
  • Select clauses to include in legal agreements for the purchase, sale, rental, lease and exchange of houses, apartments, commercial spaces and other real estate. For example, commercial real estate agents and brokers may select clauses to include in agreements to lease to stipulate occupancy details such as common area access, garbage disposal, security, ownership of leasehold improvements, snow removal and parking spots provided. They use their professional knowledge to serve their clients' best interests and respect real estate law. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Assess the appeal, marketability and condition of properties. They inspect properties and take note of fireplaces, air conditioning, upgraded floor coverings and other selling attributes. They detect additions and renovations that break zoning and building codes. They compare similar properties, considering factors such as size, age, construction materials, recent renovations and access to schools, shopping and transport routes. At the conclusion of these assessments, they may recommend repairs, improvements and other actions. (3)
  • Assess the suitability of real estate for particular clients. For example, they may assess the suitability of properties for commercial, industrial and institutional uses. They consider aspects such as neighbouring business types and local zoning regulations. (3)
  • Evaluate the acceptability of offers and agreements proposed to their clients by other parties. They verify that prices, occupancy dates, inclusions, exclusions, usage constraints and other clauses meet their clients' needs, expectations and timeframes. As a result of these evaluations, they may recommend counter-offers and adjustments to agreements. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Real estate agents and salespersons plan and organize their job tasks to meet the needs of clients and maximize sales of houses, apartments, commercial buildings, land and other real estate. Their ability to manage priorities, schedule their own activities and coordinate them with those of others is critical to their jobs. Missed appointments, new information and unforeseen circumstances such as road closures may force them to reorganize job tasks frequently. (4)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Real estate agents and salespersons play a central role in organizing, planning and scheduling real estate services and may contribute to long-term and strategic planning for their organizations. They may be responsible for assigning tasks to other real estate agents, secretaries and receptionists. (4)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the names and faces of their many clients, co-workers and colleagues in order to build rapport.
  • Remember security codes to access computers and networks.
Finding Information
  • Find information about legal terms with which they are not familiar by searching real estate encyclopaedias and provincial reference manuals. (2)
  • Find information about clients. For example, they find information about potential clients by contacting co-workers, friends, relatives, former clients, financial planners, bankers, open house participants and referees and by reading business and obituary pages in newspapers. (3)
  • Find information about properties listed for sale and for rent. For example, they may find information about properties suited to their clients' needs by consulting co-workers and colleagues, reading advertisements in newspapers, real estate magazines and other media and by searching Multiple Listing Service, proprietary and real estate board databases. (3)
  • Find information about legal and regulatory matters affecting property sales. For example, they may find information about rules and regulations affecting real estate sales by consulting building inspectors and by reading building codes and zoning regulations. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • May use graphics software. For example, they may use graphics software such as Photoshop and PhotoPaint to edit and format digital photos downloaded from their cameras before exporting them into Multiple Listing Service files and feature sheets. (2)
  • May use databases. For example, they may enter, update and retrieve addresses, asking prices, taxes, lot and room dimensions and other property data from Multiple Listing Service, proprietary and real estate board databases. They may also search, display and print data from these databases. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use e-mail programs to exchange messages with other agents and send property listings and feature sheets to potential buyers. They may create and maintain e-mail distribution lists. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they may write, edit and format notices, memos, letters, advertisements, legal agreements, reports and newspaper articles using word processing programs such as Word. They may supplement text with imported logos, letterheads, photographs and floor plans. (3)
  • May use spreadsheets. For example, they may create spreadsheets to track property sales and transaction details and to display interest rate, mortgage loan repayment and future value calculations. They may also create spreadsheets to monitor business expenses and production costs. They embed formulas to perform calculations. (3)
  • May use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, they may calculate monthly capital and interest payments, amortization periods and remaining balances using mortgage calculation programs such as Mortgage Wizard Plus. They may use accounting programs such as Acomba, QuickBooks and Simply Accounting to record financial transactions and prepare monthly financial statements, including balance sheets and income and expense statements. They may also use real estate analysis software to calculate net effective rents and returns on investments for income-producing real estate. (3)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they may use Internet browsers such as Explorer to obtain information about mortgage products and rates, building construction and real estate market trends. They may use these browsers to access the Multiple Listing Service and the websites of financial institutions, real estate boards and other agents. They may also use website management software to create virtual tours and web pages for listed properties. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Real estate agents and salespersons coordinate and integrate job tasks with co-workers and colleagues. They coordinate and integrate job tasks with other real estate agents, salespersons and brokers to meet clients' needs and achieve sales objectives. They coordinate activities related to the purchase, sale, rental and exchange of real estate with colleagues such as lawyers, notaries, mortgage brokers, loan officers, building inspectors and property appraisers. They may also direct, lead, supervise and train other real estate agents and salespersons, secretaries and receptionists. (3)

Continuous Learning

Real estate agents and salespersons are expected to stay abreast of changes in technologies, economic conditions, market trends, mortgage financing, legislation and other matters affecting real estate. They acquire new learning by speaking with co-workers and colleagues, browsing the Internet and reading newspapers, real estate journals and bulletins issued by financial institutions, They also attend conferences, workshops and courses offered by organizations such as the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, realtors associations and real estate boards.

Real estate agents and salespersons are governed by real estate associations in the provinces in which they practise. They may be required to develop their own learning plans and engage in continuous learning to maintain their licences. (3)

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