What's the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent, a Realtor, and a Broker?

"REALTORĀ®" isn't just a fancy term for a real estate agent, and "broker" is different from both. Read on to learn the difference.

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What's the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent, a Realtor, and a Broker?

Posted by Gary Ashton on Friday, April 29th, 2022 at 9:28am.

Differences Between Real Estate Agent, Broker, and REALTORHave you ever wondered what the difference is between a real estate agent, a REALTOR®, and a broker? They all seem to do the same thing, right? Well, not exactly. Each of these professionals has specific roles in the real estate industry, and it's important to understand the differences before you join a real estate team. In this blog post, we'll break down each role and what they entail so you can start planning your professional future. Keep reading to learn the difference between a real estate agent, a broker, and a REALTOR®.

What Is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a professional who helps people buy and sell property. Real estate agents are required to work for a real estate broker, who is licensed by the state to manage real estate transactions. Many real estate agents become registered by the National Association of REALTORS® to become a REALTOR®.

Wondering if real estate is a good career? Becoming a real estate agent is an entry-level position, and the job's flexible schedule allows prospective agents to decide how they like the job as they perform it.

People become real estate agents by completing real estate pre-licensing courses and passing a state licensing exam.

After that, they pursue the three roles of a real estate agent:

  • Buyers' Agent: In this role, the agent represents the buyer by showing them homes for sale, giving them advice, and negotiating sale prices.
  • Listing Agent: Also called a sellers' agent, this role requires agents to liaison with interested buyers and negotiate the best price.
  • Rental Agent: Rental agents help clients find properties for rent by showing them properties and analyzing lease agreements.

These three roles are not mutually exclusive; agents may simultaneously participate in all three. However, most agents specialize in just one, depending on their particular skills and trends of their market.

What Is a Broker?

A real estate broker is a real estate agent who has completed additional courses and passed another state exam to have greater professional reach and responsibilities.

Brokers have the choice to open a brokerage and hire agents to work beneath them. Running a brokerage requires even more commitment and responsibility. Often called principal brokers, these professionals are effectively the CEOs of real estate firms.

However, brokers can take on lower-level roles, too. For example, they can be an associate broker who works beneath the principal broker to help with management, marketing, and business operations. Or they could be a managing broker who manages teams of agents and oversees higher-level strategic planning as it relates to the brokerage's overall business goals. These roles allow them greater responsibilities and opportunities while continuing to benefit from the marketing power and resources of their brokerage.

What Is a REALTOR®?

REALTORS® are real estate agents or brokers who have taken an extra step and joined the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Joining the NAR is voluntary, but it provides members with access to various resources, including educational opportunities, data, research on industry trends, networking events, and mentorship opportunities.

REALTORS® abide by the association's Code of Ethics to ensure best practices across the country.

There are several steps to joining NAR as a real estate agent:

  • You must have a valid real estate license and be involved with a brokerage in your state.
  • You must be "actively engaged," meaning you have to prove that you're seeing clients and conducting real estate business to a demonstrable extent.
  • You have to have an office (or be associated with a brokerage that does have a real estate office.
  • You can't have violated any real estate or civil rights laws in the last seven years.
  • You have to provide evidence of compliance with NAR's Code of Ethics.
  • You have to complete the NAR introduction course.

Agents and brokers can join NAR, although the process is slightly different for each type of real estate professional. Accepted candidates will maintain the REALTOR® status, advertise themselves as such, and enjoy all associated perks as long as they continually uphold the Code of Ethics and abide by the group's rules.

Which Real Estate Role Is Right For You?

The three titles we've outlined in this post are real estate agent, real estate broker, and REALTOR®. Understanding the difference between these titles is important because they each come with different responsibilities and requirements.

To be successful in real estate, you need to have a detailed plan and clear goals. Knowing these titles well will help you envision your future in the real estate industry.

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Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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