You may not be the only one who is confused about the difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker. Your confusion is understandable as there are important similarities and differences.
In fact, to complete the sale or purchase of your home, you will need the services of both a real estate agent and a broker – but not at the same time, and not for the same purpose.
Let’s start with a very simplified description of each estate representative:
• A property agent is a person who has a license to sell property. An agent cannot work independently: he must work under the supervision of a property broker.
A property broker also has a license to sell property but has taken additional educational courses and passed the broker license exam. The broker may work completely independently, or may hire an agent to work with him at the brokerage, or may be a co-broker, working with other brokers in a joint business relationship.
Become a real estate agent
Each state has specific requirements to become a real estate agent. Requirements vary, but generally include completing a minimum number of property classes and passing a real estate exam to gain a license.
Upon successful completion of coursework and licensing exams, the new agent must be sponsored by and work with a real broker. Real estate agents function as real estate sellers under the supervision of brokers.
This will be a valuable learning period and one of the main ways in which real estate agents begin to build clients.
The property broker is already a licensed agent with several years of real estate experience and who chooses to obtain a broker license. Agents will be required to complete additional property-related courses, pass the state-mandated brokerage exam, and become licensed as a real estate broker. Property brokers have a higher standard of industry knowledge.
Property brokers are responsible for the actions of their salespeople (real estate agents) and oversee all intermediary activities. He can act as a mediator if there is a conflict between the client and the agent. He may step in to help with more complicated negotiations.
The broker is the person who receives the payment of the sales commission on the successful completion of a property transaction. The broker determines how the commission is shared with the property agent who is directly involved in the transaction.
Brokers also have a fiduciary responsibility to accept “real money” deposits from home buyers, open an escrow account and deposit the money into the account.
Do you need agents and brokers?
The short answer is yes. Sometimes, the agent and the broker are one and the same person. Whether buying or selling a home, you will be working with a licensed estate agent. When the transaction reaches the point where the money is transferred, the broker will handle the escrow deposit process. And if any conflicts arise or help is needed during negotiations, you and your agent will ask for the experience and skills of the broker.