Learn About Real Estate Agents vs. Brokers vs. Realtors

By: ROS Team

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Do you think that real estate agents, brokers, and realtors are the same terms?

Well, you are not alone.

Many people believe that all these terms are synonyms to each other. Or you can say that these terms are often interexchange or confused with one another. This might be because all these job titles are related to the same profession. Contrary to popular belief, these three terms are distinctively different, especially when it comes to qualifications and the level.

Here is a breakdown of each title so that you can know how they are different from each other.

Who Is A Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional to help their clients buy, sell, or rent properties.

To obtain a license, they are required to pass all required classes or training sessions that can vary based on jurisdiction. For example, a real estate agent is required to opt for 60 hours of pre-licensing training in Virginia while in New York they need 75 hours of license coursework. Real estate agents are also known as real estate associates.

A real estate agent can represent both buyers and sellers. Or they can represent them individually. For example, they can be a buyer’s agent to help them find their dream property. Or they can represent sellers to help them buy their home.

Real Estate Agents

Understanding the Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

The real estate agents are supposed to carry offers and counteroffers between buyers and sellers/renters, along with any questions they might have. They can approach the other’s party agent once the offer is accepted, helping their clients with paperwork. A real estate agent is also responsible to assist their clients in other requirements such as inspections, moving, and closing. So you should hire real estate agent if you want to buy, rent or sell your apartment. But do not forget to ask these questions before hiring a real estate agent.

How Real Estate Agents are Paid?

Real estate agents make their livelihood through the commission earned. Simply put, they ask for a certain percentage of the sale price of a home.

Who Is Real Estate Broker?

Like a real estate agent, a real estate broker helps both buyers and sellers in the transaction of the property.

Real Estate Brokers

So How They are Different from the Agent?

The only difference between them is that a real estate broker has opted for the courses beyond the agent level and gone through a broker’s license exam.

Their coursework or training covers topics that are more advanced than those taught at the real estate agent pre-licensing stage.

A real estate broker can work independently or employ real estate agents for their work. However, agents who pass the broker exam, but prefer to work under another broker, are referred to as real estate associate brokers.

Understanding the Responsibilities of a Real Estate Broker

As real estate agents, brokers help buyers and sellers meet their purpose. While they help buyers to find the desired property, conduct negotiations, and prepare offers, they help sellers find out the market value of the properties, list and show houses, negotiate with sellers and help in closing the deal.

How a Real Estate Broker is Paid?

Similar to real estate agents, they look for a commission once a sale is closed. The amount of commission is mentioned in the contract between the broker and his party.

Who Is A Realtor?

To become a realtor, one has to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And to become a member, a real estate professional has to agree to follow the standards and guidelines set by the association.

Simply put, a realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors.


The title of a realtor is used by residential and commercial real estate brokers, property managers, appraisers, salespersons, counselors, and other real estate professionals.

Realtors, whether they are real estate agents, brokers, or an appraiser, are required to follow the guidelines set by the NAR. The association supposes them to be honest and transparent with their clients. They are also expected to follow business ethics without any exaggeration or misrepresentation.

To become a realtor (NAR member), a real estate professional requires a valid real estate license as well as an active real estate business. There should be no complaint against them for any unprofessional conduct and pending bankruptcy as well.

Key Takeaways:

  • Real Estate agents are licensed professionals to handle any property transaction between a buyer and a seller.
  • A real estate broker has opted for an advanced level of coursework than a real estate agent. He can work independently or employ a real estate agent for his work.
  • A realtor is a member of the realtors association. Apart from including real estate agents or brokers, the term often covers other professionals such as appraisers, salespeople, property managers, and counselors. 

So you must have understood what differentiates a real estate agent from a broker or how both are different from a Realtor.