When you hear the term “real estate agent”, what comes to mind? Is it a person with a cozy office, who helps you find an apartment? Or, is it someone who helps sell your house? Or, is it a company that sells properties for you and even manages them? If you’ve been wondering what the difference is between a Realtor, Broker and Real Estate Agent, this article is for you. 

Even though the term “real estate agent” is often used interchangeably, it’s important to understand the difference between the three. The real estate industry is huge and there are many players in the field. So, if you’re new to the real estate world, it can be confusing to figure out who is who.  Let’s take a look at what the differences are between real estate agent vs broker vs realtor.

What is a Realtor?

A Realtor is a real estate professional licensed to conduct business in all states. They are also required to pass a real estate exam given by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All states require real estate professionals to be licensed, which means passing the “Series 60” state exam, to legally sell a single family home. 

A Realtor is someone who specializes in the field of real estate. They can help you buy or sell real estate, find a rental, and with home mortgage referrals and funding. A Realtor may or may not also be called a real estate salesperson, real estate adviser, real estate agent, or broker.

What is a Broker?

A Broker is someone who sells real estate but doesn’t hold a real estate license. They are regulated by the state in which they are licensed. If a Broker can prove they earn at least 80% of the commissions on real estate sales, they also must pass a Broker exam, too. A Broker can only sell real estate for their clients if they are licensed in the state they are selling in. Most states allow Brokers, who are not real estate licensees, to sell properties for their clients so long as they meet certain requirements and are bonded. 

These requirements vary by state, but generally include having the ability to identify the properties and clients, keeping accurate records of all transactions, and providing a certain level of client service.

What is a Real Estate Agent?

Real Estate Agents are licensed brokers who are authorized to sell real estate for clients. They can help you buy or sell a home and rent it out. This is often referred to as a “full service” real estate broker because they can do so much more than a “just” a Broker. 

A Real Estate Agent can help you find a home and advise you on the process of purchasing a home, whether you’re interested in buying a new home or an investment property. They can also help you sell your home if you’d like to get the most from it or have owned it for a while and would like to move sooner. 

Real Estate Agents are often referred to as a Realtor. Some Real Estate Associations, like the NAR, allow Realtors as a variation, while other organizations, like the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), prohibit it.

Differences Between a Realtor, Broker, and Real Estate Agent

Real estate professionals are licensed in a particular state and only work in that state. Real estate professionals usually seek licensure only in one state, although some Real Estate Specialists are licensed in multiple states.  

Brokers are not required to be licensed in any state and can work in any state. Some states require that a Broker be licensed in order to use the professional name “Broker” or its variations. 

Real Estate Agents are licensed in one or more states, often as a broker in addition to their real estate license. They can work in multiple states and often work with other licensed professionals such as mortgage brokers and home inspectors.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, a good rule of thumb is to work with a licensed real estate agent or broker. Licensed professionals have met the requirements set by the state and are subject to strict regulations and standards to protect you as a consumer. 

If you decide to go the route of working with a broker or agent, here are a few tips to help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible: – Be honest and ethical – Be patient – Be proactive – Be flexible

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