Alberta is a big and diverse place with everything from mountains to flood plains, urban neighborhoods to farmland. The size of Alberta geographically and the diversity the various markets represent have made specialization a necessity for real estate professionals and the regulator requires training in various specialties to be competent in helping the public in those areas.
Let’s take a moment to consider the lay of the land as it were and why licensing designations are valuable.
Considering the regulatory framework in Alberta first, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) has established three licensing categories, and within those categories license types. The three categories are:
Within each category, there are license types such as associate, broker, and brokerage. The specific real estate category is further broken down into sectors or designations that provide specific licensing authority for certain property types and activities. The four sectors or designations for real estate in Alberta are:
Brokers must be authorized in all four sectors but real estate associates may choose the designations they choose to hold and subsequently practice in.
The Value Proposition
The simple value proposition to consumers regarding a plurality of licensing designations is the knowledge that the REALTOR® they are working with has the requisite skills and knowledge specific to their field of interest.
Imagining a world without designations for a moment, the REALTOR® may be highly competent in residential trades but never actually done a commercial transaction before and the consumer would have no way of knowing if they have a base level of knowledge in the sector to competently help.
For the REALTOR® the value of the designation system really comes in being able to focus attention in a certain sector to build a client base and then expand into other sectors as the need and desire arises, thereby expanding the knowledge and service offerings progressively.
The Crossover Conflict
The crossover conflict exists when a REALTOR® has a prospective client who is interested in purchasing a property that may or may not be within their licensing authority to help.
Let’s think about the most common crossover, residential vs. rural where a property is just outside of an urban municipality with a house on it. I have written other articles on this issue to provide help for brokers and associates in deciding if the property in question falls under the associate's licensing designation of residential because it causes dispute, hard feelings, and confusion. This issue exists across multiple designations and the best option for avoiding it altogether is for the associate to simply get the additional licensing designation negating the requirement for a “judgment call” by the broker and any resulting potential liability.
In Alberta, associates should understand that it is only a matter of time before a crossover situation happens to them and they may be forced to refer the client away to another REALTOR®.
As mentioned above, an associates best option to avoid these types of issues is to seek the education and designations that result before the situation happens. This option is the best not only for the eventual crossover issues but also to expand the knowledge base and potential client base of a REALTORS® business.
Being able to speak confidently about commercial and rural disciplines with a consumer will provide them with greater confidence as a result and likely result in more referrals. For those in the brokerage who fail to seek the additional designations on their license, they may end up needing the refer clients to those REALTORS® who have sought the additional designations as well.
AREA is a recognized provider of all sector designations for licensing including pre-licensing education for those interested in getting licensed initially. My recommendation is for members to make it part of the long game to continue their designation expansion until they have all designations. This focus on continuing education through licensing will aid in the professionalism and knowledge of the industry we all want to promote. It also helps that AREA education offerings are also the most competitive of all other recognized providers!
Lifelong learning is a concept that ensures you never stop getting better in your field or expanding your knowledge base into new fields.
In the real estate industry, there is no real downside for REALTORS® to be pursuing new licensing designations throughout their career. After gaining licensing in residential, rural, commercial, property management, and even broker designations there are no boundaries to where or how you will shape your business.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: 403-209-3619