Buying or selling a home involves a lot of money, so having the right real estate professional to guide you through it all can make a big difference. Knowing the nuances between the types of professionals you’ll encounter at a real estate agency can help you decide which one may be most helpful, whether you’re looking to buy or sell.
There are many common factors between real estate agents and brokers. Both are licensed professionals who can help you buy or sell a property. Becoming an agent involves pre-licensing training and a written licensing exam. Brokers engage in additional training, beyond what is required to become a licensed real estate agent, and must pass a broker’s license exam.
Learn more about the differences between a broker and an agent, including the place of real estate agents.
What is a real estate agent?
Realtors are licensed salespeople who help their clients buy or sell homes. Although they are independent contractors, agents must work for a real estate broker and are generally paid by commissions shared with that broker.
Before they can start working, real estate agents must take courses and pass a licensing exam in the state in which they plan to work. When agents first get their license, they “must practice or start with another person who has been licensed as a broker,” says Jeffrey Hicks, associate broker in Atlanta at Apollo Associates Realty and past president of the National Association of Realtors. Real Estate Brokers.
There are two main types of real estate agents: buying agents and listing agents.
A buyer’s agent helps people who want to buy a home. This means helping buyers find homes in their area, viewing the home with them, and helping them prepare and submit offers to purchase a home.
A listing agent, also called a selling agent, helps people who want to sell their home. This means pricing the house appropriately for the market; list the home on the local MLS, a database of homes for sale; market it to potential buyers, including staging and open houses; and help owners negotiate offers.
What is a real estate broker?
Real estate brokers own and manage real estate agencies (sometimes called agencies). These companies work with a title company and others to facilitate real estate transactions and manage real estate agents. Many brokers are also licensed agents.
Like real estate agents, real estate brokers must take courses and pass an exam to obtain a business license. Typically, the broker’s exam is more rigorous than that of agents and involves additional coursework.
There are several types of real estate brokers:
Associate brokers are licensed brokers who generally work as real estate agents, but who also have the necessary training and license to negotiate a real estate transaction. This is often the first step real estate agents take in advancing their careers, as brokering their own transactions can increase commissions.
Designated brokers typically own or manage real estate companies and hire real estate agents to work with clients to buy and sell properties and help their agents resolve client issues. They can also develop and offer training materials to teach their agents skills that can help them make more sales.
The responsibilities of registered brokers may vary from state to state, but they generally oversee activities performed on behalf of the business by its agents and other employees (such as office staff). This includes ensuring that all employees comply with real estate law, maintaining accurate records, managing trust and escrow accounts, reviewing documents and distributing commissions.
Management brokers, like official brokers, oversee the day-to-day operations of a real estate company. They often train and mentor real estate agents and oversee the marketing and listing of homes. Management brokers also monitor legal compliance, ensuring that customer interactions and transactions are properly documented and that the business complies with all relevant state laws.
What is a real estate agent?
Realtor is a trademarked term for real estate agents or brokers who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an industry trade organization. All real estate agents are agents or brokers, but not all agents or brokers are real estate agents.
As members of the Trade Group, Realtors agree to follow NAR’s Code of Ethics. This does not mean, however, that brokers and agents working outside the NAR are unethical; every licensed agent and broker must meet state standards.
Who should you work with?
A real estate broker, real estate agent, and real estate agent can all provide highly professional services. Your decision may therefore depend on the types of services you need and the amount of experience you are looking for. Generally, if you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll work with an Associated Realtor or Broker.
Don’t make assumptions about the experience, though. Some agents may have years in the game but have decided not to become brokers. Likewise, some brokers might only have a few years under their belt. When deciding who to work with, it can be a good idea to ask for testimonials from past clients to gauge their track record. It’s all about who you click best with.