As a home buyer or seller with no close ties to the business side of the real estate industry, you’ve probably used terms like agent, broker, and Realtor® interchangeably. After all, they all describe the same basic job, right? Wrong. While an agent, a broker, and a Realtor® can all help you buy, sell, or rent a home, these three titles have different meanings in the real estate business. Let’s take a quick look at each term, what they mean, and why they’re not synonyms for the same thing.
Simply put, a real estate agent is a salesperson. To become a real estate agent, a person must attend classes for a designated number of hours (60 hours in our state of South Carolina) and pass an exam at the end of the class. They must then take a state exam and apply for their license. Once they’re officially licensed, they must work for a real estate company under a broker-in-charge.
A real estate broker is someone has extensive knowledge of real estate law, has more education, and has complete more real estate classes than your typical agent. To become a broker, an agent must attend more training and pass a somewhat difficult exam and get their broker’s license. Once that happens, the broker can either work on their own or open up their own company and hire agents to work under them.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, “REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.” Not every agent or broker is a Realtor®, but every Realtor® is a broker or an agent. When a real estate professional carries the Realtor® designation, it means that they are committed to keeping the buyer and/or seller’s interest in mind, not their own personal profit. To ensure that you’re working with the best agent or broker who is honest, knows their market, and will keep your best interest number one on their list, it’s best to work with one who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.