The Differences between an Agent and Real Estate Broker

When you want to contact a broker to buy or sell property, have you ever wondered whether you are dealing with an agent or a broker or a realtor or an associate. If all this sounds confusing to you here are a few more points to keep you guessing. Basically, any real estate agent can be a real estate consultant, a realtor or a salesperson. It is all a matter of nomenclature. Real estate brokers on the other hand can work as real estate agents but the opposite is not true. A broker has to have a license before working professionally in this field and hence agents cannot work as brokers.

Here then is a description of the different types of agents that you are likely to meet when dealing in property.

  • Real Estate Broker – On top of the ladder in real estate business is the broker who can run his/her own business and hire agents to work for him. A broker must have a licence to operate and should have relevant experience working as a salesperson. Further, a real estate broker should have completed a course that is accredited and certified by the Sate where the broker will be working. The duration of the course again varies between States. Brokers are considered to be experts in the real estate field because of their experience and requisite qualifications.

A broker should also have errors and commissions insurance. This is because a broker works through agents and hence will be liable for their actions. This insurance safeguards him from any litigation that might arise from client dissatisfaction

  • Broker Associate – A Broker Associate is a real estate broker who works for another broker and does not have his own business and setup. He too has to go through all the requirements of being qualified to be a broker and have a licence of his own. Such brokers prefer to join a large network of brokers either on a percentage of each transaction fee or a flat fee from the employing broker.

  • Real Estate Agent – A real estate agent cannot work independently and must be employed by a brokerage firm. Brokers are liable for any errors made by agents and this is why a broker takes out insurance to safeguard his agency from litigation initiated by clients. A real estate agent need not have a licence but should be at least 21 years old and completed a course in real estate that is certified by the State he is working in.

There are also realtors, listing agents, dual agents and transaction agents that are a part of the real estate sector, each having their own specific responsibilities.