Real Estate Agents vs. Brokers vs. Realtors: What is the Difference?

In the vast world of real estate, there are several terms that are often used interchangeably but actually hold distinct meanings. Real estate professionals play a vital role in buying, selling, and renting properties, but understanding the differences between real estate agents, brokers, and realtors is crucial. In this blog post, we will delve into the nuances and unique responsibilities associated with each role, providing you with a clear understanding of how they differ.

Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents, also known as real estate salespersons, are professionals licensed to facilitate real estate transactions. They typically work under the supervision of a licensed broker and act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. Agents are required to complete pre-licensing education, pass a state examination, and obtain a license to practice real estate.

Real estate agents are primarily responsible for assisting clients in buying, selling, or renting properties. They guide buyers through property searches, arrange property viewings, negotiate offers, prepare contracts, and facilitate the closing process. For sellers, agents market properties, conduct market research to determine appropriate listing prices, and help navigate the complex process of selling a property.

Agents earn commissions based on the value of the transactions they facilitate. These commissions are typically split between the listing agent (representing the seller) and the buyer’s agent (representing the buyer). Agents rely on their knowledge of the local market, negotiation skills, and ability to build relationships with clients to succeed in their role.

Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers hold a higher level of licensing and have additional qualifications beyond those required for real estate agents. A broker can work independently or employ real estate agents to work under their supervision. Brokers can also work as agents themselves if they choose to do so.

To become a real estate broker, individuals must typically have a certain number of years of experience as a licensed agent, complete advanced real estate coursework, and pass a broker’s examination. Brokers may choose to specialize in specific areas of real estate, such as commercial properties, residential properties, or property management.

One of the key distinctions between brokers and agents is that brokers have the authority to operate their own real estate brokerage firm. They can hire agents, oversee transactions, and take on more significant responsibilities. Brokers often have a deeper understanding of real estate law, financing options, and market trends, allowing them to provide expert guidance to both clients and agents.

Real Estate Agents vs. Brokers: The Key Differences

The primary differences between real estate agents and brokers can be summarized as follows:

Licensing: Agents obtain a real estate license, while brokers obtain a broker’s license, which requires additional qualifications and experience.

Supervision: Agents typically work under the supervision of a licensed broker, while brokers can operate independently or manage their own brokerage firm.

Responsibilities: Agents focus on assisting buyers and sellers in real estate transactions, while brokers take on additional responsibilities, such as managing agents, overseeing transactions, and providing expert guidance.


The term “realtor” is often used interchangeably with the terms “real estate agent” and “broker,” but it actually refers to a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The NAR is a professional organization that sets ethical standards and provides educational resources for its members.

Not all real estate agents or brokers are realtors, as membership in the NAR is voluntary. Realtors pledge to adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which promotes honesty, integrity, and professionalism in real estate transactions. They have access to exclusive market data and resources provided by the association.


In summary, real estate agents, brokers, and realtors all play distinct roles within the real estate industry. Real estate agents are licensed professionals who facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers. They work under the supervision of brokers and focus on assisting clients in buying, selling, or renting properties.

Brokers, on the other hand, hold a higher level of licensing and can operate independently or manage their own brokerage firms. They have additional qualifications and responsibilities, such as overseeing transactions, managing agents, and providing expert guidance to clients.

Realtors, while often used interchangeably with agents and brokers, specifically refer to real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics and have access to exclusive resources and market data provided by the association.

Understanding the distinctions between these roles is important for consumers and industry professionals alike. When seeking assistance with real estate transactions, it is crucial to know the qualifications, experience, and responsibilities of the professionals you engage with. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or someone interested in a career in real estate, having a clear understanding of the differences between agents, brokers, and realtors will empower you to make informed decisions.

It is worth noting that the specific requirements and regulations for real estate professionals can vary from state to state or country to country. Therefore, it is advisable to research and understand the specific licensing and membership requirements in your locality 

Real estate agents, brokers, and realtors each serve unique roles within the real estate industry. While agents focus on facilitating transactions, brokers have additional qualifications and responsibilities, and realtors are members of the NAR, adhering to a specific code of ethics. By understanding these distinctions, you can navigate the real estate market more effectively and make informed decisions when buying, selling, or renting properties.

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