Tips For Real Estate Agents – Differences Between a Realtor and a Broker

I am your neighborhood realtor and I am your real estate broker. Am I both? The answer is “yes / maybe / no”. Real estate titles and functions can be confusing, especially when there is a blurred line. The answer is that a realtor can be a broker (or not) but a broker does not…

I am your neighborhood realtor and I am your real estate broker. Am I both? The answer is “yes / maybe / no”.

Real estate titles and functions can be confusing, especially when there is a blurred line. The answer is that a realtor can be a broker (or not) but a broker does not need to have a realtor. How can this be? Let's look at the making of a realtor and a broker.

Becoming a REALTOR

Before becoming a realtor, one must become a licensed real estate agent. Becoming a realtor is a choice, not usually a requirement of any real estate agent. (Some real estate brokerage firms require all their agents to also become realtors.)

The term realtor is a design. Agents who become members of the National Association of realtors (NAR) are the only real estate agents who may use the title “realtor”.

There are no additional classes and tests to complete. As a member of the NAR, the agent agreements to abide by and up the high standards of the 17-point realtor Code of Ethics. This is a personal commitment (and a statement to all) that the realtor conducts all business with the highest level of integrity.

Becoming a Broker

A broker is a licensed real estate agent who has a minimum of two years' experience as a real estate agent (requirements vary between states.) The broker has chosen to further his or her career through additional education and has passed the broker's license exam.

A licensed broker has greater options, opportunities, and responsibilities.

  • A broker may work independently and open his or her own brokerage.

A property agent may not work independently of a brokerage. Nor can he or she open a brokerage.

  • A broker may become a co-broker with another broker, to operate their own brokerage firm.
  • A broker may choose to be a one-person company or hire propertyagents to work for the brokerage.
  • The broker abroad all related real estate activities of the brokerage.
  • A broker serves as an intermediary between client and agent, or if additional assistance is needed during purchase or sale negotiations.

Broker and REALTOR

Just as a property agent is not required to become a member of the NAR, neither is a broker.

As a member of the NAR, an agent or broker has access to additional education and information resources. Like other influential organizations, the NAR has a political voice and members can choose to participate in legislative advocacy activities.

Both a realtor and a broker can be ethical without membership in the NAR as proof positive. There is also no guarantee that a realtor will actually up the Code of Ethics and conduct business in an ethical manner.

A Quick Review

So, am I a realtor, am I a broker, or am I both? Consider this a chronological question.

First, I became a licensed estate agent. Then I became a member of the National Association of realtors, entitled to use the term, “realtor”. Finally, I completed my first few years of work as an agent, completed my studies and received my broker's license.

I am now a broker who also has the right to use the title realtor. But remember, I could have become an estate agent, then a broker, without ever becoming a realtor. Got it? I knew you would.