“I think if someone has the education and they’re good at [buying and selling real estate], then why not be part time,” says Walter Boni, a broker in Winnipeg. “There are other jurisdictions in Canada that have done just fine allowing part-time agents. As long as everybody follows the same rules and regulations, I don’t see the harm in it.”
However, Boni’s opinion is not the norm. Many agents, even those outside of Winnipeg, believe sales reps can’t be effective if they keep a side gig.
“There are agents out there who aren’t making this their priority,” says Winnipeg agent Savanna Lemieux-Ellement. “You give your clients your full attention; if they need you morning, noon or night [you should be available]. But other agents who are bartending or whatever to make more money, we need to wean those agents out.”
That, meanwhile, seems to be the common argument in favour of the rule, which is legislated and legally binding in Winnipeg. In other parts of the country, part-time agents are blamed for the lack of professionalism in the industry, and that’s the tone that keeps the legislation alive in Winnipeg.
“We see [the rule] as a way to promote our professionalism and [the fact] that we believe people should commit to real estate as a career, as they do in other professions,” says Peter Squire of the Winnipeg Realtors Association, to whose members the rule applies. “Having that policy in place really enforces, in our view, that our members are committed full-time to the profession and not just [some of the] time.”
But, as Boni points out, even full-time agents are falling behind with today’s quickly evolving technology and are not providing clients with the best service.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years,” he says. “I eat, breathe and sleep real estate. Everything has changed since I started though – with cell phones and the Internet. So if you stay with your continuing education and you learn the new technologies, if you’re dedicated to it, why can’t you work part time?”
Agents in Winnipeg, where real estate professionals must work full-time, are divided over that century-old rule, with those opposed arguing there are good and bad agents – no matter the hours they work.