Real Estate Professionals Explained: Agent, Broker, Realtor
Real estate professionals go by different names. There are agents, brokers, Realtors®, seller’s agents, buyer’s agents. The list goes on.
If you’re entering the real estate market for the first time, you may find real estate professionals’ various titles a little confusing. But you’ll benefit from knowing the difference. People tend to use these titles interchangeably, but there are some important differences between the roles of the various professionals, as well as different requirements for using particular titles.
Titles for real estate professionals:
The real estate profession is regulated by state governments, which have different requirements for earning a license. In general, though, the titles you may come across include the following:
- Real estate agent:Anyone who earns a real estate license can be called a real estate agent, whether that license is as a sales professional or an associate broker. They look at listings on the multiple listing service and help you buy or sell your house. State requirements vary, but in all states you must take a minimum number of classes and pass a test to earn your license.
- Realtor®: A real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics.
- Real estate broker: A person who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and has passed a broker’s license exam. Brokers can work alone or can hire agents to work for them.
- Real estate salesperson: Another name for a real estate agent.
- Real estate associate broker: Someone who has taken additional education classes and earned a broker’s license but chooses to work under the management of a broker.
Working with real estate professionals
While you are more likely to work directly with a real estate salesperson or an associate broker when buying, selling, or renting property, some brokers provide services for buyers and sellers themselves. If you have hired a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a property, that agent typically reports to a broker. The broker handles the earnest money deposit and establishes the escrow account. They will be an invaluable resource in the whole process.
In addition, the broker bears responsibility for the actions of the real estate agents under his or her supervision.
Experience and education
Real estate brokers not only have higher education requirements than real estate salespersons, they also must have knowledge and experience working as an agent.
When you are looking for real estate professionals, it is wise to work with a member of the National Association of Realtors who is committed to maintaining the professionalism of the real estate business.