There are 3 primary terms for real estate professionals.
Those terms being Realtor, Agent, Broker. Each of these terms has a separate meaning, but tend to get used interchangeable probably due to misunderstanding of the holistic structure of the industry as it refers to the buy and sell of Real Estate using a listing agent and buyer’s agent.
If you fell victim to this yourself, no worries, about 4 out of every 5 people I talk with use these terms interchangeably. It can be a little confusing right out the door, especially if you yourself are not in the industry.
Generally, there will be a 6% percent commission for these services at the closing of the sale of the property. If the property is not sold, your listing agent, buyer’s agent, or broker will not receive any commission at all. This 6% percent commission based on the sell of the property is usually split between agent listing the property, Called the Listing Agent, and the Buyer’s Agent. The listing agent and buyer’s agent must then split their portions of the commission with the real estate broker with whom they are employed based on the terms of their agreement. Now, that we have a basic understanding of the structure in which these professionals get paid, let’s look at the titles themselves as well as their meanings.
The title “real estate agent” is given once a person has taken and passed all of the necessary requirements, given by the state in which the individual intends to work. The state requirements usually consist of a particular in state approved classes, after which the individual is required to pass state approved licensing exam. The title “real estate agent” is the most encompassing of the titles with it being the starting point for most real estate professionals. Also, Agents are often times referred to as real estate associates.
In order to be a Realtor, you have to be a real estate agent, but to be a real estate agent you do not have to be a realtor. Once the individual, gets the education and license, they are concerned to be a real estate agent. The agent is then able to apply for a realtors license. A realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A real estate agent must agree to abide by the association’s standards and uphold its code of ethics to acquire a realtor license. The National Association of Realtors keeps a tight leash on their Realtors. However, there are benefits to being a member of this association. The biggest of these benefits being access to the Multiple Listing Service often referred to as the MLS. The MLS having the largest listing data base in the world and the NAR virtually hold a monopoly on this.
A real estate broker is simply an individual who has continued his or her education past the real estate agent level and passed the real estate broker license exam. The real estate broker can work as independent real estate agent and are, also, able to employee other real estate agents under them. If a broker has agents in their employment, it is referred to as a brokerage.
The biggest difference between the three is that a broker can work on his or her own, while an agent has to work under a licensed broker. If you hear someone refer to a real estate agent as a real estate associate broker, that agent is someone who is working towards achieving a broker’s license. Although, the Associate broker may share in the brokerage profits in ways the typical agent does not, as long as the are an associate broker, they are still required to work under a licensed broker.