How Much Does It Cost to Become a Realtor

A career in real estate is one of the cheapest and quickest ways to start a highly lucrative business. But when you are planning your career, it is important to know the costs involved in becoming licensed and starting your business, as well as ways to work around these costs.

Required Education

The process of becoming a licensed real estate agent can be fairly quick (between 6 and 24 months), but it is useful to have a plan for financing your education. In Ontario, you are required to take the Real Estate Salesperson Program in order to register with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), join a brokerage, and begin trading in real estate.
The pre-registration phase of the Salesperson Program consists of 5 courses, 4 exams, and 2 simulation sessions. The program follows a pay-as-you-go model, allowing you to pay for the program course by course rather than with a single payment. The pre-registration phase must be completed before you can actually receive a license and join a brokerage. The total cost of all the pre-registration courses in Ontario is $3,590, but can be broken down like this:
Item Fee
Course 1: Real Estate Essentials - eLearning $525
Exam 1: Invigilated Theory Exam $100
Course 2: Residential Real Estate Transactions - eLearning $595
Exam 2: Invigilated Theory Exam $100
Course 3: Additional Residential Real Estate Transactions - eLearning $315
Exam 3: Invigilated Theory Exam $100
Simulation Session 1: Residential Real Estate Transactions $750
Course 4: Commercial Real Estate Transactions - eLearning $315
Exam 4: Invigilated Theory Exam $100
Simulation Session 2: Commercial Real Estate Transactions $600
Course 5: Getting Started eLearning $90
Total Pre-Registration Phase Cost $3,590
Once you have registered with RECO, you must complete the post-registration phase to maintain your real estate agent license. The price breakdown of this phase is as follows:
Item Fee
Compliance Course - eLearning $300
Two Elective Courses ($135 each) $270
Total Post-Registration Phase Cost $570
In addition to these pre- and post-registration phase fees, other potential costs include:
Item Fee
Program Application Fee $75
Examination Retake Fee $100
Simulation Session Remediation Day Fee $50
Optional in-class or virtual Facilitated Review Sessions for Course 2 (21 hours) $280
Optional in-class or virtual Facilitated Review Sessions for Course 3 (9 hours) $120
Optional in-class or virtual Facilitated Review Sessions for Course 4 (12 hours) $160
Drop/Transfer/Re-scheduling Fee $50
Credit Card Chargeback Fee $30
The total cost of the Real Estate Salesperson Program Including the post-registration courses is $4,160 in Ontario, though this total can rise due to any of the additional fees. Financing these payments is made easier due to the pay-as-you-go model, and can be done in various ways like:

Becoming Registered

In order to trade in real estate, you need to become registered at the federal, provincial, and local levels after completing the initial education requirements. For example, a new Toronto-based agent must register with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
To join these associations, you will first need to pay $20 for a Canadian Criminal Record & Judicial Matters check. Then you will face a combination of one-time and regular fees:
Item Fee Frequency
RECO Registration $590 One-time
RECO E&O Insurance Fee (see glossary) $475 Annually
RECO Licensing Renewal Fee $390 Every 2 years
RECO Continuing Education $44 Every 2 years
CREA/OREA Registration $400 One-time
CREA/OREA Fees[1] $474.60 Annually
TRREB Registration $460 One-time
TRREB Membership $859.65 Annually
These Association and Board fees add up to $3,259 upon initial registration. After the one-time membership fees have been paid, the annual total alternates between $1,800 and $2,240. Once your business is up and running and the commission cheques are coming in, these payments will simply be the cost of running your business.

Startup Costs for Your Business

Getting your business off the ground goes beyond just completing the education requirements and becoming licensed. Other important expenses you will need to launch your business include:  
Marketing is crucial for a new agent building a clientele, so in your first year you can expect to spend at least $1500 – $3000 on marketing tools such as a professional website, signage, flyers, business cards, etc. In many full-service brokerages the brokerage will pick up some of these costs.
Real estate agents are paid on commission, so things could be a bit tight until you get your first commission cheque. Strategies for working around this include putting aside an emergency fund and finding less costly ways to market your business.
Something to keep in mind is that each of these expenses––and practically anything relevant to your business––can be written off as a tax deduction. Yes, including your car. Keep track of all your expenses so you can be sure to save on taxes wherever possible, either via your own spreadsheet or on an app that assists with financial management.

This article has focused on costs required to become a realtor. But as with any other business you should also be aware of the daily costs of operating your business. Financing your path to becoming a real estate agent can seem daunting, but there are strategies for working around these costs. Sign up for one of our Complementary Career Nights to learn how to make real estate a financially viable career for you.

Franchise Fees

Working at a full-service brokerage means access to a wide breadth of highly beneficial tools and support. The monthly “desk fee” for one of these brokerages might be higher than that of another type of brokerage, but it is important not to overlook why the monthly fee is higher.
Virtual and warehouse brokerages might offer you lower fees, but full-service brokerages provide far superior marketing tools and systems, training, potential clients, and even financial support, with some brokerages offering scholarships to new agents. So, while a full-service broker might charge $250 per month compared to a virtual brokerage’s $100, the true difference in value is determined by the services they each provide. (For more on an agent’s commission split, visit How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make.)

Incorporating Your Business

In Ontario, realtors can incorporate their business by registering a Personal Real Estate Corporation (PREC). According to the OREA, “PRECs allow REALTORS® to access the business advantages of incorporation, including tax and income planning benefits.”[2] The process involves a $300 fee for filing Articles of Incorporation, as well as professional fees for recommended legal and accounting guidance.[3] This article expands on the benefits and costs of incorporating your business.