When it comes to buying and selling property, real estate agents are your best friends. While hundreds of thousands of clients use real estate agents across the country every year, many do not know how real estate agents make their money or what the average salary is.
Here's your guide to real estate agent salaries and how agents make money. As well, we will break down the average salary of a realtor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
What Is A Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who works in the business of buying and selling property. The agent arranges real estate transactions, putting buyers and sellers together and acting as their representatives in sales negotiations.
In Ontario, a real estate agent must work for or be affiliated with a real estate broker (an individual or a brokerage firm), who is more experienced and licensed to a higher degree.
What Is A Realtor?
The key signifier is that a realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association. In Canada, a realtor is also a member of the Canadian Association of Realtors (CREA). While all realtors are real estate agents, brokers, or in a related field, not all agents or brokers are realtors.
As part of their membership in the NAR, realtors are expected to be experts in their field and must follow the NAR’s code of ethics. This code requires agents to uphold specific duties to all clients, the public, and other realtors.
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Real Estate Agent or Realtor?
As stated above, the primary role of a licensed real estate agent is to act as a representative for home sellers or buyers throughout the process of a real estate transaction.
Additionally, realtors and agents provide other services to their clients. These can often include staging the property, arranging showings or open houses, scheduling inspections, marketing the property, and advising on how to proceed. In some cases, the agent will perform additional tasks not outlined in the listing agreement at an extra cost.
Is A Real Estate Agent A Full-Time Job?
One of the benefits of being a real estate agent is that you can take on as few or as many clients as you'd like. While the majority of agents make this position a full-time career, some choose to do fewer transactions in a year for a little side income while still working their full-time jobs. Being a realtor is hard work, but if you commit the time to it, it can be a fruitful career.
In most cases, a full-time agent in Ontario can find success taking on many customers throughout the year. Some agents choose to work on a real estate team to encourage more transactions and commissions for team members. Because agents depend a lot on networking and their local market for clients, agent loyalty and referrals are appreciated by agents.
How Do Toronto Real Estate Agents Make Their Salaries and Compensation?
The average real estate agent's salary is based on a sales commission from the real estate transactions that they complete with clients. This is similar to other sales position salaries in Ontario, except there is no base salary that is paid to agents regardless of the number of transactions they complete.
What Is A Commission?
A commission, in its simplest form, is a portion or percentage of a final sales price that is paid to the sales representative for their service and work. It is not a job that is paid by the hour.
A real estate commission, also known as realtor fees or agent rates, is the payment to your agent for the services rendered after the transaction has been completed, or "closed" in realtor terms. These commissions make up the salaries of agents in Ontario.
What Is The Average Commission Compensation In Canada
In many provinces and transactions within Canada, the average commission is about 5% which is then split between the buying and selling agents. This means that the average commission for an individual realtor in Ontario is 2.5% of the final sale price.
For home buyers, a real estate agent's services are technically free unless your house gets sold. In a similar vein, the agent is only paid by the seller if and when the house is sold. If the seller takes their house off the market or decides not to sell, the realtor will not get a commission cheque. Generally, the commission is calculated based on the percentage of the property’s sold price, the percentage of which can be negotiated.
What Are The Different Types Of Commissions In Real Estate?
There are five common types of commissions that can be used by Ontario real estate agents. These are:
- Fixed Percentage Commission: an agreed-upon percentage of the final sales price
- Split Percentage Commission: a rate that decreases if the property is sold for over a certain price range
- Fixed or Flat Fee Commission: an agreed-upon fee that is set before the home is sold
- Service Fee Commission: a flexible type of commission that allows clients to pay for specific services they want from their realtor
- Fee Combination Commission: a fee on top of the percentage commission that is usually used for unique properties or when agents have to go outside of their regular duties
Who Pays The Salaries Of Real Estate Agents?
There has been some confusion on how real estate agents get paid and who pays the commission. In the majority of cases, the seller is the party responsible for the realtor's commission.
However, it isn't necessarily an "out-of-pocket" expense that the seller has to pay. Instead, it is included in the final sale price of the property. Usually, the seller’s lawyer subtracts the amount of commission owed from the money received from the buyers once the property closes and pays the listing brokerage directly. Once the commission is received, the brokerage will pay out the listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
Can Buyers or Sellers Negotiate The Commission Fees?
A realtor's commission is almost always negotiable. Any buyer or seller should look at the listing agreement when working with an agent to determine the commission rate outlined and whether it is negotiable.
A reputable agent will be willing to answer any questions their client has about the commission and can negotiate a fair commission fee or percentage before moving forward with the transaction.
What About A "For Sale By Owner" Property?
Sometimes, homeowners will list their homes without the help of professional real estate agents. This is often done to save on commission fees that the seller would pay to their own agents.
However, if the buyer uses an agent, there is still a commission that has to be paid by the seller, even if it is a smaller percentage. In simple terms, the seller would still pay out the buyer's agent's cut of the commission and "pocket" the other half.
What Is A Fair Commission For Real Estate Agents?
Sometimes, determining a fair commission rate for real estate agents can be a bit more complicated than it initially seems as it's not a wage per hour of work. This is because so much of a realtor's salary in Canada is dependent upon the final sale price of the home. An agent could put in countless hours of work on a house that sells for below asking while another could have a large commission cheque coming their way after a home sells in less than a day for over asking.
Determining a fair sales price for both the client and the real estate agent is a conversation that both parties should have when they first agree to work together. Be sure to talk to your agent when you plan on listing your home about commission rates.
What Are The Average Salaries Of Real Estate Agents In Ontario?
Determining the average real estate agent's salary is a bit more difficult than it may seem because an agent's salary can vary quite drastically from month to month and year to year. As well, an agent's salary is dependent on not only the commission they receive but also on the state of the market.
For example, during the housing boom, a full-time realtor could have doubled her salary, especially if she sold the homes for over the asking price. On the other hand, now that the market has slowed due to low demand and the start of a recession, it's likely that many realtors will have a lower salary this year than in 2020-21.
As well, the industry salary can vary from location to location. Where the average real estate agent in Toronto will do multiple deals on million-dollar properties in the city, a local realtor working in a small country town will likely complete transactions on cheaper properties which can lead to a lower salary or less compensation.
According to the Government of Canada job bank, an average real estate agent's salary in Ontario, Canada sits at about $32,000 on the low end and $140,000 on the high end. The median Ontario real estate agent salary is just over $450,000 per year. This is similar to the average real estate agent salary across all of Canada which is around $27,000 on the low end and over $130,000 on the high end for salaries.
Breaking Down Your Real Estate Agent Salary In Toronto
As a real estate agent, there are several things that go into your salary and that come out of your salary.
Especially for entry-level positions in the real estate industry, you are often working with a team under a large brokerage. As with any real estate agent, you will need to pay brokerage fees and may have to split your commission with other members of your team.
Not only will some brokerages ask for fees to be paid by the team, but there is also a broker split that agents will be paying whenever they make a sale.
As well, if you are referred to a client by another real estate agent, it is common practice to split your commission with that agent or give a portion of that compensation to the agent.
Another payment that Ontario agents expect to cover is their taxes, Where other employers or companies in Canada take off the tax before a worker receives the pay stub, some self-employed real estate agents will have to do their own taxes. This will often mean setting aside an amount after every commission so that it is ready to be paid when tax season rolls around.
If you are a broker or an independent realtor in Canada, there are many different operational costs that you will be paying with your salary and commission cheques. These expenses are often categorized under the heading "The Cost of Doing Business." Expenses like these include gas, insurance, car payments, office space rent payments, phone, internet, and office supplies.
These payments can vary depending on where you live and the cost of living there. If you rent an office in Toronto, Ontario instead of a smaller city in Canada, you may be paying more on rent but could be saving on gas.
While agents make their salaries by selling houses, they need to do some marketing in order to do so. Whether they create marketing materials, purchase a sign to put outside the property, research data on location prices, or list the property on a listing site, there are various things that agents have to do to pique the interest of buyers and sell the house.
Generally, the average real estate agent will need to use a portion of their salaries to cover these marketing materials. Instead of employers or companies reimbursing the agent for these expenses, it will often need to come out of their own pockets.
Realtor salaries and income in Ontario, Canada can vary from city to city and province to province. Whether you're a realtor in Toronto or Thunderbay, it's important to understand how your commission and compensation work when you're part of a team or an independent realtor.