What is the difference between a Real Estate Agent, Broker, and Realtor?

This article is about the National differences in education, experience, and services that can be provided lawfully by Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Brokers, and Realtors.

When buying or selling real estate, you’ll probably come across these three job titles: real estate agent, real estate broker, and Realtor®. Although each role plays an important part in the transaction process, the differences between these real estate professionals can be confusing. To help you make better decisions when buying or selling your home, here’s what each of these real estate professionals does, how they differ from one another, and how to choose the right one for your next transaction.

How different states define real estate services

The services that a real estate licensee may perform vary by state. A real estate agency or realtor in one state might not be allowed to offer services that are common in other states. For example, California allows its licensees to broker, which means they can be licensed as brokers without being licensed as sales agents. An Illinois brokerage may include individuals who are licensed as sales agents or brokers depending on how they operate their business. A Florida Realtor must be an active member of NAR in order to use any of NAR’s marks including REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and others. However, Florida does not limit the usage of these marks to only active members but also licenses those who are not actively engaged in real estate activities. In addition, some states allow for non-licensed people to conduct certain services such as showing the property to prospective buyers. In New York State, anyone can conduct showings except for those working under a licensed broker or salesperson. In Texas, it’s illegal for anyone except a licensed real estate professional (agent/broker) to engage in an activity requiring licensure under Texas law. This includes providing representation during negotiations with third parties and representing clients before governmental agencies such as zoning boards or planning commissions. There are many different services available when buying or selling property so it’s important you know what you need from your real estate agent so you get exactly what you want out of your experience!

The benefits of being Realtor

Being a Realtor has many benefits. It allows you to use your license for any state or country in which you’re qualified. In addition, as a member of NAR, you have access to substantial resources that can assist you in meeting new clients and serving your existing ones better. You’ll also enjoy increased credibility in your community—it means that those who may not know you but are familiar with the organization will recognize your name and associate it with excellence. A symbol next to your name also demonstrates to clients that they’re dealing with an experienced professional, who can help them throughout every step of their transaction. Whether they buy or sell their home or property, they will be well-served by having partnered with a top-notch real estate professional. Finally, being a Realtor gives you more time to focus on what matters most: growing your business and building strong relationships with clients. That’s because our company does all of the administrative work for you so that you can spend more time focused on providing great service to buyers and sellers. We handle everything from marketing your listings to screening potential buyers so that only serious prospects reach out to you about purchasing a home or property. And we do all of these things at no cost to you! So if you want to take your career to another level, becoming a Realtor could be one of the best decisions you ever make.

The benefits of being an Agent

When you’re looking for an Agent (also called a Real Estate Salesperson), keep in mind that they don’t have to be Real Estate Brokers or Real Estate Associates. Being an Agent is cheaper than being a Broker or Associate; with that lower cost comes fewer professional obligations. Agents are able to sell homes as long as they follow their state’s regulations; these include fees paid to local Boards of Realtors, learning about fraud protection for consumers, and mandatory classes on ethics. On top of all of that good stuff, being an Agent can also mean having more control over which services you provide your clients. For example, if you want to offer your clients access to mortgage brokers, you’ll need to become a Broker or Associate. If not, then no problem! You can still be an Agent! There are some downsides to being an Agent though: there aren’t any federal requirements for Agents—which means each state has its own rules and regulations regarding who gets licensed and how much money they need to pay in order to do so. This can make it difficult to move from one state to another and start selling houses again. Also, since you’re not required by law to put up collateral for your business, it could be easy for people to take advantage of you when buying or selling property. And lastly, because there are fewer financial responsibilities associated with being an Agent, it may seem like less work than becoming a Broker or Associate. However, remember that just because someone doesn’t hold themselves out as a Realtor doesn’t mean they’re doing anything wrong!

A sales license allows you to sell homes in your state. If you are working as an independent contractor for another company, you will need to apply for a sales license from that company. But if you want to run your own business and be an entrepreneur, then it’s more likely that you will have to obtain your own sales license. Most states require prospective agents to pass both state-specific and national exams before they can become licensed; some also require continuing education after licensing. There are two levels of licensing in most states: Individual (also called consumer) and company (also called Broker). You may apply for either or both at once or as part of a series of stages as you grow your business. Some states allow brokers to sell without individual licenses, but in others, it’s not possible. Some brokers prefer to keep their listings separate so that each agent has his or her own list of clients and those clients’ contact information. In these cases, an individual licensee would maintain their own client base while selling under a broker’s license. 

The primary benefit of being a licensed salesperson is that you can legally represent yourself as someone who is qualified to buy and/or sell property on behalf of clients in your area. Licensed agents are required by law to follow certain ethical standards when conducting business with clients; if they fail to do so, they could lose their license or be subject to disciplinary action. Sales licenses also give you access to a variety of services that help you build your business and protect both buyers and sellers. For example, many states require companies with multiple agents working under one license (known as branches) to have designated offices where their agents can meet with clients face-to-face. This requirement helps ensure that all agents working for a particular company are familiar with each other’s work so they can effectively serve their clients’ needs.

Broker License

Brokers are licensed to sell property in one state. They are not allowed to work outside of that state (unless they also have a salesperson license in another state). Many states require brokers to have an established business or office location within that state. For example, if you hold a real estate broker’s license from Illinois, you cannot legally sell houses in Indiana without also being licensed as a salesperson in Indiana. In some cases, there are reciprocity agreements for brokers across states so you may be able to gain licensure without taking any additional education or testing. However, it is important that you check your individual state requirements before attempting to work outside of your home area. If you want to become a real estate broker, look into classes at local colleges or online courses. Online courses are more common but be sure to check with your state’s licensing board to make sure online courses meet their standards. The National Association of Realtors offers many options including both classroom and online instruction. Their curriculum covers subjects such as laws governing different types of transactions, ethics and fair housing practices, managing risks associated with different types of loans, negotiation skills, record-keeping procedures, and basic accounting principles relevant to real estate professionals. All states require completion of a certain number of hours either through classroom study or practical experience. These hours vary by state but are usually around 75-100 hours. Once you have completed your coursework, passed an exam covering what you learned, and paid all required fees, you will receive your license from your state Real Estate Commission. In order to renew it every two years, you must complete continuing education credits which can include attending seminars, taking online courses, or reading professional publications on topics related to real estate law.


In conclusion, there are many differences in Real Estate services that can be provided lawfully by various providers. It’s important to know how these different types of service providers are different so that you can obtain lawful services for your needs. The three different levels of service providers include Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Brokers, and Realtors. Each has its own set of responsibilities and duties to provide you with services according to state laws. Always make sure that when working with any type of provider they have proper licensing from their state agency so they can legally provide you with their services. Remember it’s always best to work with someone who has experience in providing similar products or services as what you need them for.

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I am a Fine Art and Real Estate Broker with 40 years of experience in all aspects of the Real Estate Industry. A member of the National Association of REALTORS®. I advocate for Prison Artist C-Note. With the right wall art, your room will go from functional to functional and fabulous. Contact me for your Fine Art & Real Estate problems.

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If you have additional information, my audience and I would love to hear about it. Tell us about it in the reply.