Broker, Agent, or Realtor?

November 4, 2016

In your internet research for buying or selling a home, you have likely encountered many different and new terms that are specific to the real estate industry. For that outside of the real estate field, these terms can be confusing and may require some explanation or further research.
Some of the more confusing terms for buyers and sellers involve the people that they must work with through the home buying and selling processes. The terms broker, agent, and Realtor are often muddled titles for that outside of the industry, but they are three different types of fields. Additionally, there are also some other real estate titles like salesperson and associate broker that may come into play during your home buying and selling process.
Knowing the difference between these job titles can not only be helpful, but it can ensure that you find the right person who will assist you in finding the perfect home that suits your family’s needs.

Real Estate Agents and Realtors

Though they may be used interchangeably, the terms real estate agent and Realtor are not the same things. A Realtor may be the pithier term to use, but it is not always the correct one.
To begin, both are in the business of buying and selling real estate. Both Realtors and real estate agents are required to be licensed to buy and sell properties, and though there is a lot of overlap in the job descriptions and qualifications, there are notable differences between them.
A real estate agent is a person who has obtained a real estate license after completing a given number of classroom instruction hours. The length of schooling required to obtain a real estate license varies from state to state, but it can be anywhere from 30 to 90 hours in classwork. Once the school hours are completed, applicants must pass an examination, then pay an annual licensing fee to retain their agent status.
The title Realtor is a trademarked term that is designated to real estate agents who are current members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Though the NAR has been around since 1908, the adoption of the term Realtor would not come until 1974. There are currently more than 1 million NAR members in the United States.
The NAR does not only include real estate agents either. Property managers, home appraisers, and other professionals within the industry can join the NAR as well under “principal Realtors.
So you see, simply being a Realtor does not mean that you are a real estate agent. In the same way, being a real estate agent does not mean that you have any affiliations with the National Association of Realtors and hold the title of Realtor.

Real Estate Brokers

A real estate broker is a person who was once a real estate agent but chose to continue their education to become a broker. In order to become a broker, a real estate agent much pass the broker’s license exam. While a real estate broker can work independently, real estate agents must work under brokers.
Some other titles that you may encounter on your real estate journey include real estate associate broker and real estate, salesperson. A real estate associate broker is a person who has already obtained their broker’s license but works under another real estate broker. A real estate salesperson is a term that is not used very often but simply refers to a state-licensed real estate agent who is acting on the behalf of a real estate broker. 


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