Are there too many part-timers in the real estate game?

by Ryan Smith06 Nov 2015
Everyone knows the housing boom has spawned high prices – with average home prices in Toronto and Vancouver topping $1 million – but it’s also spawned a record number of real estate agents.

According to the most recent numbers available, the number of people selling real estate in Canada has topped 108,000. To put that in perspective, labour statistics for 2013 showed 131,000 carpenters in the country. In other words, there are almost as many Canadians selling houses as there are building them.

A big part of the increase in real estate agents comes from an influx of part-timers. However, many full-time real estate agents have criticized their part-time colleagues, saying part-timers can’t offer the same service or expertise as people who make real estate their full-time career.

“Call me crazy, but my experience by and large is that part-timers are part-time for a reason,” writes REP reader Ken. “They lack the professionalism, talent, and commitment to succeed as a full-time real estate professional, and need that other job to make ends meet. I get that there are exceptions to every rule, but I don't want to be ‘that guy’ that greets my seller when they walk in the door of Home Depot on Saturday afternoon, or picks them up from a restaurant in my cab. Be a pro, be full-time, your clients deserve that.”

“In my extensive experience (licensed since 1975) I do not see the purpose of PART-TIME real estate agents,” writes Nick Slezinski, another REP reader. “This is due to the proven fact they do NOT have their full attention on market prices or conditions. If it was not for the MLS numbers, prices and other facts, these part-timers would be completely lost!”

Slezinski says he doesn’t believe part-timers should be allowed in the industry. “This is not in any manner prejudicial or unfair,” he writes. “I would not try and be a part-time pharmacist, for example!”
But part-timers maintain that they’re able to give their clients service that’s as good as – or even better than – their full-time counterparts.

“I always thought real estate was a service industry – how many hours you spend doesn’t mean anything,” writes Narender Sehgal in the REP forum. “If a person can provide service at the convenience of client, keeping in mind the needs of the client or customer and the interest of the client, then how does it make a difference if that someone is a full-time or part-time agent?

“I have met many full-time real estate agents who have no clue what are they doing,” Segal adds. “So please, let’s not get into this full-time/part-time business.”

One anonymous commenter even called those who criticized part-timers “loosers (sic) looking for scapegoats.”

What do you think? Are part-timers hurting the industry, or is that just an excuse? Let us know in the comments below.

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