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Broker Vs Sales Agent Vs Realtor

Buying or selling real estate introduces you to an array of new terms, including titles for the professionals who can assist you with the process. By comparing the experience, training and licensing of a real estate broker vs. agent vs. Realtor, you can better decide which type of real estate professional is the right fit for your business needs.

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The main difference between a broker and real estate agent

Both brokers and real estate agents can assist you with buying or selling commercial real estate. The key difference between the two is that a broker can work independently, whereas a real estate agent must work for someone else. Real estate agents may be employed by a real estate agency or a broker.

Related: Leasing vs. Buying Space for Your Business

Real estate broker vs. agent experience and licensing

The flexibility and independence given to real estate brokers are largely related to their experience and training. However, both agents and brokers must gain state licensing before working in the industry. Specific requirements vary, but there are some commonalities in licensing laws across all states.

Real estate agents must typically:

  • Be a minimum age
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Take a state-approved pre-licensing course that lasts a minimum number of hours
  • Pass a written examination
  • Submit an application
  • Undergo a criminal background check
  • Take continuing education courses to keep their license active

Real estate brokers must typically:

  • Hold a valid real estate license
  • Have a minimum number of years of experience working as a licensed sales agent
  • Complete a certain number of hours of education through a state-approved course, college or university
  • Pass a written examination
  • Submit an application
  • Undergo a criminal background check
  • Take continuing education courses to keep their license active

Related: What Does a Real Estate Agent Do? Key Roles and Duties

Broker vs. Realtor: what’s the difference?

A Realtor is a real estate professional who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®. This involves joining a local NAR real estate association. In most cases, a real estate professional is only able to join if the principles at their brokerage or firm are members. Brokers who work independently or are the principles of their firms can join a local organization and become a REALTOR. As a result, a broker and a Realtor may be the same thing. Real estate agents may also be Realtors.

Becoming a Realtor gives a real estate professional access to continuing education courses and resources to help them assist clients. In addition, Realtors can attend events to network with other real estate professionals. Having a larger network can make it easier for a professional to find buying and selling opportunities for their clients.

The difference between buyer’s agents, listing agents, and dual agents

A sales agent in real estate may work as a:

  • Buyer’s agent: This professional represents the buyer and helps them find real estate that meets their needs and make offers on properties. In some cases, a buyer’s agent may be called a buying agent.
  • Listing agent: This real estate professional represents the seller and provides advice about pricing, recommends updates to help the property sell, markets the property and negotiates with the buyer’s agent. They may also be referred to as selling agents.
  • Dual agent: This professional represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction.

Whether a real estate professional is a buyer’s agent or listing agent depends on the transaction. A licensed real estate agent can serve in both roles.

Broker vs. Realtor vs. sales agent FAQs

How do real estate agents and brokers get paid?

Real estate agents and brokers receive most of their income from commissions, which are a percentage of the sales price of home and commercial property transactions they facilitate. These commissions may be earned when they act as a buyer’s agent or listing agent or when they represent both the buyer and seller as a dual agent. In addition, they may earn bonuses when their agencies or brokerages achieve certain sales goals. Some real estate professionals might also earn a base salary.

What is the best way to choose a broker?

When choosing a broker, consider the following:

  • Commission and fees
  • Level of experience
  • Marketing techniques
  • Communication skills
  • Size of their network
  • References from past clients

Related: How to Hire a Real Estate Broker

Do buyers or sellers pay real estate fees?

Whether you’re working with a real estate agent, Realtor or real estate broker, you’ll pay commissions and fees. Technically, the seller is responsible for covering those costs, but often, they’re added to the asking price of the property and passed on to the buyer.

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