Pandemic-proof B.C. real estate industry

Pandemic-proof B.C. real estate industry charms new agents looking to start a fresh career

As a new realtor in British Columbia, Irene Querubin got down to business quickly.

Shortly after receiving her licence last December, Querubin wrote her first offer on a property early this January.

She represented a family in New Westminster. The husband and wife want to move from their condo to a detached home so their three young kids will get more space.

By appointment, Querubin and her clients viewed a four-bedroom, three-bath residence in Pitt Meadows on January 2. Then they made an offer.

As it turned out, the home got a total of 22 offers. Listed for below a million dollars, it sold for $1,052,500, $150,000 over the asking price. In addition, the successful buyer took the property without conditions.

Querubin’s clients did not get the home, and the RE/MAX Crest Realty agent continues to look for other properties.

Although her first offer did not succeed, it served as a valuable learning experience for the new realtor.

“Oh, my goodness, it just tells you how hot the market is. It’s crazy,” Querubin told the Straight in a phone interview.

What’s more, she feels encouraged at the start of her new career.

“People want to buy. People want to sell. And they need realtors,” Querubin said. “So, to me, that’s promising. There are a lot of opportunities.”

Querubin is one of 1,346 people who were newly licensed last year by the Real Estate Council of B.C., the provincial Crown agency that regulates realtors.

As of December 2020, there were a total of 25,632 licensed realtors in the province. Most of them are in trading or sales. Thousands also work in rental and strata property management.

Pamela Skinner is vice president with RECBC for education and licensing.

“People who are successful in the career tend to be those who have the passion for helping their clients and developing those strong long-term relationships with their clients,” Skinner told the Straight by phone.

In addition to commitment to clients, Skinner said, education and professionalism are all a big part of being in real estate.

According to her, a good proportion of new licensees have postsecondary education.

The first step to become a realtor is to register for and complete a licensing course and exam.

The real estate division of UBC’s Sauder School of Business offers a real-estate trading-services licensing course for those who want to go into sales.

“While that is a self-paced course, people generally take around six months to do that or they can take up to a year,” Skinner explained.

Aspiring realtors also have to complete a separate course, which is an applied-practice course that builds on the earlier licensing course.

“The reality is that a real estate professional is a trusted advisor with specialized expertise, and that doesn’t come easily and people have to work at that,” Skinner said.

Realtors have to renew their licences every two years, and they have to fulfill continuing-education requirements to do that.

“People need to have that long-term commitment before they get into the business,” Skinner said.

Querubin, a mother to two young children, knew she was ready to start a new career when her youngest kid started kindergarten last year.

She also understands firsthand the value of homeownership.

In a period of five years, she and her husband saw their previous condo in New Westminster almost double in worth.

“We changed the carpet. We painted before selling it, but that’s it: no major renovation,” Querubin related.

With their equity, Querubin and her husband bought a detached home in Port Coquitlam, where the family now resides.

According to her, a common misconception about being a realtor is that it is no different from another sales job.

“That is not true at all. After going through the real estate course at UBC, I understood that being a real estate agent bears a huge responsibility to the client and the public,” Querubin said.

She counts RE/MAX Crest Realty’s Jerome Deis, a long-time realtor, as a mentor.

“When your clients are repeat clients,” Querubin said about Deis, “that’s living proof that you do a great job at helping them.”

Before becoming a realtor, Querubin did a lot of interesting things. Until 2018, she hosted a weekly radio show for more than five years at Red FM. She did sales for Shaw Communications. She scheduled advertisements for Bell Media and Rogers Communications.

Querubin, who trained in broadcast journalism at BCIT, also worked as a host for a local Filipino community TV news program and wrote stories for community publications.

Now she has a front seat in a business that she considers a powerful tool for building wealth.

“I want to live it, and I want to share the knowledge. That’s how I see myself as a real estate agent,” Querubin said.

She should expect a busy year in 2021.

In its latest housing forecast, the B.C. Real Estate Association projects “strong momentum” from the robust 2020 market heading into this new year.

The BCREA predicted that sales in 2021 could total 99,240 homes, or more than the anticipated total for 2020. Final sales figures across B.C. for 2020 had not been released at deadline.

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Carlito Pablo

Staff writer Carlito Pablo lives in Vancouver. On sunny weekends, he and his family are usually found on beaches and in parks. A journalist who formerly worked in Manila, he's a proud new Canadian.


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