Real Estate Agent, Broker, Realtor: What is the Difference?
By Sadiya Anjum
Since the terms are often interchanged people are sometimes unsure of the differences between an agent, broker and a realtor. It is simple to understand the differences and knowing this may help you when you consider hiring a real estate professional.
The term ‘agents’ legally applies to both brokers and agents; whom we generally refer to as ‘agents’ are actually sales persons. But for convenience sake and since all of us do it, we will just refer to sales persons as agents.
Most of us when selling homes are in touch with an agent, even though in some states we tend to call them brokers. As far as education goes, agents (sales persons) are required to do a course work of around 60 hours which is followed by an exam. An agent is usually hired by a broker and all transactions done are under his supervision. A broker is responsible for hiring an agent and training him. An agent cannot take any major actions without consulting the broker.
It is easier to become an agent than to actually be one. Being an agent requires a lot of work and patience. He has to bear the brunt of nasty comments from uninterested consumers, undecided buyers/ sellers etc. An agent’s remuneration depends on commissions. So if he is unable to get listings and see the end of a real estate transaction, he does not stand to gain anything.
To become a broker, one requires more experience than an agent. After working as an agent, he must do more course work followed by another state exam to become a broker. The broker owns all listings that an agent brings and is responsible for calling the shots. It takes some experience as an agent before one can become a broker.
Realtors are basically brokers or an agency itself which is affiliated to the local or state board of RealtorsÂ®. This board comes under the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The term RealtorÂ® is trademarked by the NAR. The NAR apart from abiding by federal and state laws have their own set of regulations. The NAR has some form of supervision and control over all its members and has a standard of ethics which must be abided by. The NAR also sponsors the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which lists homes for sale.
Although these are the basic differences between the three terms, bear in mind that they are often used differently in certain areas.
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