You’ve often heard these 3 titles for real estate professionals, and while they all can help you buy and sell a house, there are differences that distinguish them. Let me clarify them for you:
A real estate agent is a licensed real estate professional who has taken and passed all required classes as well as the real estate agent’s exams in the state where s/he wishes to work. The agents are sometimes also referred to as real estate associates. This is where most real estate professionals begin their career and many are content to remain at this level during their years in real estate sales. To conduct business, a real estate agent must work for a real estate broker, who is ultimately responsible for that agent’s actions. Real estate agents are not qualified to open, operate or own a real estate office of their own.
A real estate broker was a real estate agent with experience in the field (usually 3+ years) who took his/her career to the next level by completing additional classes and passing another real estate exam. Requirements can vary by state. This allowed the broker to open, operate and own an office as well as contract real estate agents (above) or licensed brokers to work for him/her. This licensed professional facilitates the sale or lease of real property.
A realtor is an active real estate broker who is a member of the state and local real estate board affiliated with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To be a realtor, the real estate professional must agree to uphold the association’s code of ethics and conduct and will be governed by the rules and regulations of the NAR.
It’s good to know the definitions of these titles, but they should not matter too much to you because all of these professionals can help you buy or sell a house. What really matters is experience and integrity. A real estate agent with 12 years of experience in a specific area could be much more qualified than a newly licensed broker with little experience. Clearly, a real estate professional’s reputation is also important since s/he will be representing you and assist you with a significant transaction that will impact your future and your finances.