Fri. Sep 29th, 2023

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell or a prospective buyer, you’ve likely come across titles such as “Real estate agent,” “Realtor,” and “broker.” But what do these titles mean, and how do they differ?

In this guide, we’ll demystify these roles, helping you make an informed decision when selling or buying a home.

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What is a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who facilitates real estate transactions between buyers and sellers. They can work on behalf of either party and have a deep understanding of the real estate market. But what does it take to become a real estate agent, and what role do they play in buying or selling properties?

  • Becoming a real estate agent: To become a real estate agent, an individual must:
    • Complete a state-approved pre-licensing course.
    • Pass the state real estate licensing exam.
    • Meet age requirements and undergo background checks.
  • Role of a real estate agent: Real estate agents perform various duties, such as:
    • Assisting sellers in pricing their property competitively.
    • Advising buyers on making a fair offer.
    • Marketing properties to potential buyers.
    • Coordinating showings, open houses, and negotiations.

As a crucial link between buyers and sellers, real estate agents provide essential guidance throughout the property selling or buying process.

What is a Realtor?

‘Realtor’ is a term that’s often used interchangeably with ‘real estate agent,’ but there are notable differences. A Realtor® is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), abiding by its strict code of ethics designed to protect clients.

  • Becoming a Realtor: To become a Realtor, a real estate professional must:
  • Role of a Realtor: Realtors perform tasks similar to real estate agents, but they are held to a higher ethical standard due to their NAR membership. Their responsibilities include:
    • Providing honest and fair treatment to all parties involved in a transaction.
    • Promoting the best interest of their clients.
    • Avoiding exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to the property.

As we can see, Realtors carry out similar tasks to real estate agents, but their commitment to the NAR code sets them apart.

Jesse Allen, a top-performing real estate agent in Indiana who is also an NAR member, explains what the Realtor title means to him: “It’s nice to have that recognition behind [your name] because then your client knows that you’re somebody that they can trust. A lot of it comes down to just being a professional at the end of the day, just doing what is the right thing to do for your client.”’

What is a broker?

A broker is a real estate professional who has taken education beyond the agent level and passed a broker’s license exam. Brokers can work independently or have other agents work for them. Their deeper level of training often equips them with more nuanced market knowledge than a typical real estate agent or Realtor.

  • Becoming a broker: The process to become a broker includes:
    • Having a certain number of years of experience as a real estate agent (this varies by state).
    • Completing additional real estate education courses.
    • Passing the state real estate broker’s exam.
  • Role of a broker: A broker’s responsibilities often extend beyond those of an agent or Realtor. They include:
    • Running a real estate brokerage, which involves managing a team of real estate agents.
    • Reviewing all property transactions for legality and accuracy.
    • Assisting in complex real estate transactions, like commercial property deals.

The title ‘broker’ denotes a higher level of training and responsibility in real estate transactions. Now that we’ve examined these three titles separately, let’s compare them to help clarify the differences and similarities.

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