It is likely you will work with a real estate professional when you buy your new home. Most of us are not cut out for the amount of research, legwork, and paperwork involved with buying and selling a home. The advantages of hiring a professional are endless. However, before signing on with anybody, it is important to learn the differences between real estate professionals. The three types we will discuss are agents, brokers, and Realtors®. Let’s take a look at their different levels of training, knowledge, certification, and experience.
Real Estate Agent
Agents are the most general of real estate professionals. Many home buyers refer to their agent as a Realtor®. Technically, the agent may or may not be a Realtor®; as we will see below. Let’s take a look at the agent who has not yet acquired Realtor® status.
Typically, a real estate agent:
- has at minimum a high school diploma and is at least 18 years of age
- completed 30 – 90 hours of formal training
- passed a written real estate exam
- holds a license to sell real estate in the state where he or she works
- renews the license every year or two
- in some states is required to work under a broker
- does not earn commission directly but receives a cut from commission earned by the brokerage
A real estate broker is qualified to practice real estate independently. Brokers oversee and sponsor the agents who work within their brokerage. Typically a broker does not work with clients directly but plays more of a management and administrative roll. The broker is the name you see on real estate signs around the neighborhood.
To become a broker, an agent:
- completed 60 – 90 hours of formal training
- passed a more comprehensive exam than the one passed by the agent
- practiced real estate for a defined amount of time; at minimum 1-3 years
A Realtor® is an agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors. Important to note is that the name Realtor® is actually trademarked by the NAR. For this reason, it is technically inaccurate to refer to every agent on the street as a Realtor®. Who knew? A Realtor®:
- pledges to uphold NAR’s organizational ethics code
- often holds multiple designations and certifications
- demonstrates specific skills, performance and knowledge
- has access to advanced education and a wealth of resources
Now that you know the differences between a real estate agent, a broker and a Realtor®, you can now narrow down the list of the professionals who are eager to help you find, purchase, and move into your first home.