What Is a Real Estate Broker? (Definition, Duties and Types)

Updated March 16, 2023

There are multiple career paths you can pursue if you want a career in real estate. Job titles include real estate agent, listing agent, real estate broker and many others. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a real estate broker, it's useful to understand the unique requirements and benefits involved.

In this article, we answer the question, "What is a real estate broker?" and define the job duties and skills they may need, along with a comparison of real estate brokers and other roles in the real estate industry.

What is a real estate broker?

A real estate broker is a professional with a state real estate broker license who helps buy, sell and transfer property. They use their expertise and knowledge of the real estate industry to assist clients with paperwork, decision-making and legal compliance.

Brokers can work independently and start a brokerage and hire other real estate agents. They often supervise a team of other real estate professionals and help them write, edit and submit property contracts and purchase offers. Real estate brokers work to ensure all their clients have a positive buying or selling experience and that they receive quality customer service. Real estate brokers take a share of the commissions earned by the real estate agents who work under them.

Related: Learn About Being a Real Estate Broker

What does a real estate broker do?

Real estate brokers perform a variety of professional duties, including:

  • Overseeing and assisting real estate agents with their transactions

  • Guiding clients on how to prepare their property for listing

  • Reviewing and editing important documents like purchase agreements and contracts

  • Marketing listings to their client base and the general public

  • Drafting and filing property-related paperwork

  • Moving funds in and out of escrow accounts

  • Mediating conflicts in a legal dispute

  • Communicating with buyers and sellers to ensure they meet all deadlines and industry standards

  • Training real estate professionals and providing continuing education for promotion or advancement

  • Witnessing contract signings and other legal transactions

Related: Learn About Being a Realtor

Types of real estate brokers

There are three categories of real estate brokers. Each has varying degrees of responsibility:

  • Associate brokers: They have broker licenses but choose to work under another broker. In general, associate brokers don't supervise other agents.

  • Managing brokers: They oversee transactions and daily operations in the office, including hiring agents, training new hires and managing administrative staff. Duties may include all licensing issues of agents in the brokerage, including onboarding, training and mentoring of new agents and leading continuing education opportunities for agents as well.

  • Principal or designated brokers: They supervise real estate agents to make sure they comply with state and national real estate laws. Each real estate office has one designated broker.

Related: How To Get Into Property Management

Real estate broker salary

Brokers earn an average base salary of $76,678 per year with additional commissions for real estate sales. They earn commissions on every sale that the agents who work for them make. Depending on where they work and how many agents they have working with them, real estate brokers may earn more or less. For example, in larger cities where property value is higher, brokers earn more money on sales commissions.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Related: How Is a Real Estate Agent's Commission Split With a Broker?

Real estate broker skills

Here are skills a real estate broker may need to be successful:

  • Communication: They require excellent speaking and writing skills to share information with their team of agents and customers. Clear and direct communication can improve the team's success in selling properties.

  • Management: Real estate brokers oversee firms, including the properties the firm is selling and the agents who help sell those properties. Leadership and the ability to guide others are useful.

  • Research: When working in real estate, it's helpful to have the ability to find information and keep up-to-date with market trends. They may require local information to be able to better sell in certain communities.

  • Networking: Having strong connections with people in the community and those in the real estate business can help brokers find properties and sellers with which to work. Growing their professional network and being able to form relationships can make their business more successful.

  • Marketing: A primary duty of a real estate broker is to help sell properties. The ability to advertise and attract customers to a property is essential.

Related: 15 Top Skills for a Digital Marketing Expert

Real estate broker vs. agent and realtor

Real estate brokers share some similarities with other job titles in terms of job description and environment. However, there are some key differences between this career and others in the same industry:

Real estate agent

Both real estate brokers and real estate agents help clients buy and sell a property. However, real estate brokers hold a more advanced license than real estate agents. High-level real estate brokers, or supervising brokers, have the qualifications to hire a team of real estate agents and supervise their daily activities.

Being a real estate broker involves far more risk than being a real estate agent. Real estate brokers are liable for not just their own errors, but also the mistakes of their team of agents. To minimize this risk, successful real estate brokers prioritize the education and the improvement of their team. This may include providing training opportunities, marketing services or letters of recommendation. Due to their higher level of responsibility and their more advanced license, real estate brokers typically earn more than a real estate agent's average salary of $94,300 per year.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Related: Learn About Being a Real Estate Agent


You can be both a real estate broker and a realtor at the same time. The term "realtor" refers to someone who works in real estate and belongs to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become a member of NAR, you must commit to following a specific standard for ethics and pay regular dues. NAR members operate on a state level and handle any issues or complaints through a local board.

Both real estate agents and real estate brokers can be realtors. The requirements vary by state but there's a requirement for all candidates to be licensed real estate professionals. Licensure typically involves taking and passing an exam, obtaining the sponsorship of a broker and passing a state background check. Once licensed, you can apply to join the NAR. Realtors must renew their licenses regularly. If their license lapses, NAR can remove them from the list of practicing realtors. Depending on their state of residence, realtors may have to participate in continuing education programs to renew their licenses.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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