Before getting into the explanation of an inactive agent and an active agent we will begin with a short summary of how the real estate Brokerage system works in Ontario. We will refrain from getting into too much detail and thus the following will be a very simplified version.
In Ontario we have a Brokerage governing board called R.E.C.O. or the Real Estate Council of Ontario. A Brokerage is registered with R.E.C.O., pays its fees and dues which include errors and omissions insurance and is then ready to trade in real estate in the Province of Ontario only. The Owner/Broker may work alone as a single entity or invite licensed real estate salespeople and Brokers to join his or her Brokerage Firm and trade in real estate on behalf of the Brokerage.
A real estate Brokerage in Ontario may apply to become a member of its local real estate board. If accepted, the Brokerage will pay the board fees and dues which may include fees and dues applicable to the Ontario Real Estate Association and the Canadian Real Estate Association. If this option is taken by the Brokerage, then all the registered realty agents with this Brokerage must also become members and pay their applicable fees and dues to the said board and associations. In very rare cases, the Brokerage will cover these fees and dues for selected agents. The difference between being a board member or not is, the board members will have the privilege of all the services available to them from the board and associations including the multiple listing service which has proved invaluable to the real estate full timer and professional.
So, what is an inactive real estate agent? Simply put, an inactive agent in Ontario is one who is licensed under R.E.C.O. and for whatever reason has decided that he or she will not be trading in real estate and has not been doing so for a specified amount of time. There are still many agents in Ontario who remain with their current Brokerage and if that Brokerage is a board member, then even though an agent is inactive, he or she may still be paying fees and dues. Fees and dues may also include their Brokerage monthly fees, desk fees, franchise fees and other expenses. Since this is obviously a big waste of money these inactive agents will seek other Brokerages that will allow them to park their license without the wasted expenses.
Here are some of the terms used when referring to a Brokerage that will accept inactive real estate agents in Ontario. “Park your license”, “warehouse my license”, “hang my license”, “hold your license”, “real estate license holding company or Brokerage”, just to name a few.
A real estate agent who decides to park their license will still have some fees to pay but the difference will save them hundreds if not thousands of dollars yearly. Some of the fees will be to R.E.C.O. like their license registration fees due every 2 years and the errors and omissions insurance will still apply. In Ontario, they must earn 24 credits in their continuing education requirements as well and these credits are due on renewal.
What about the real estate Brokerage that provides the license holding services? Here the agent must do their due diligence. Seek out a trusted and proven Brokerage Office who is not a member of any real estate board. Ask for the highest commission split available to you in the event you do sell a property or 2 or if you refer sales out to other Brokerages or agents you may know. Even though your license is on Park, and you are inactive, your license in good standing is still active. Make sure you do not pay any ridiculous desk fees, extra monthly fees, franchise fees etc. Having said that, there most likely will be a small membership fee applicable for their services. Shop around for the best deal but remember to keep the experienced Brokerage that park or holds licenses a priority to you.
Inactive then, refers to the actual agent who is not active in the day to day trading of realty properties. As long as the license is registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario and remains in good standing, your real estate license is “active”. If you decide, as an agent, to become inactive, you now have a wonderful and money saving choice to transfer and join an Ontario Brokerage that you can park your license with. This Brokerage will hold your license and this will allow you the opportunity to keep your license active so it does not fall by the wayside and lapse or be terminated.
I shudder to think about if I had to go over the process and expense of getting my Realtor license all over again..yuk! If you now have this valuable asset and are thinking of becoming inactive for whatever reason, think hard about keeping your license active because you never know how valuable this asset will be for you in the future. Hang it, park it, warehouse it, hold it, keep it active! Good luck.