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Real Estate Agent, Broker, Realtor: What's the Difference?

 | Oct 20, 2019


Real estate agent

A real estate agent is someone who has a professional license to help people buy, sell, or rent all sorts of housing and real estate.

To get that license, states require individuals to have prelicensing training. The required number of training hours can vary significantly by jurisdiction. In GA, for example, real estate agents must take 75 hours of prelicensing training, while in California they need 135 hours of license coursework.

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Once that training is done, aspiring agents take a written licensing exam. This exam is typically divided into two portions: one on federal real estate laws and general real estate principles, the second on state-specific laws.

Once they pass their exam, they have earned a license and the title of a “real estate agent,” not a Realtor  Now they have to choose a Brokerage where they can legally hang their license can begin working with home buyers, sellers, and renters.

Real estate broker

real estate broker is someone who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and passed a broker’s license exam.

Similar to real estate agent exams, each state sets its own broker education and exam requirements. The extra coursework covers topics such as ethics, contracts, taxes, and insurance—at a more in-depth level than what’s taught in a real estate agent prelicensing course.

Prospective brokers also learn about real estate legal issues and how the law applies to operating a brokerage, real estate investments, construction, and property management.

In order to become a Realtor—a licensed agent with the ability to use that widely respected title—an agent needs to be a member of the National Association of Realtors®.

As a member, a person subscribes to the standards of the association and its code of ethics.

“Essentially, the NAR holds us to a higher standard,” says Grant Reid, a Realtor in Cumming GA.  Membership in the NAR also comes with access to real estate market data and transaction management services, among other benefits.