Real estate is a vast field that includes many specialized roles, such as real estate agents, brokers, appraisers, and property managers. Among these roles, the terms “agent” and “broker” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. There are important differences between these two roles that anyone who wants to buy or sell a property should understand.
Real Estate Agents
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps clients buy, sell, or rent a property. Agents work under the supervision of a broker, and their main responsibilities include marketing properties, showing them to potential buyers, negotiating the terms of a sale, and assisting with the paperwork. Most agents work on a commission basis, which means they earn a percentage of the sale price when a property is sold.
To become a real estate agent, one must complete a certain number of hours of education and pass a state licensing exam. Agents must renew their license periodically and maintain a certain level of continuing education to stay up-to-date with changes in the field.
However, agents cannot work independently and must work under a licensed broker who is responsible for their actions. Real estate agents affiliated with a broker are called sales associates.
Real Estate Brokers
A broker is a licensed professional who has completed more education and experience than an agent and has passed a higher level licensing exam. Brokers hold a higher level of responsibility, including managing a real estate office, supervising agents, and creating professional relationships with other industry professionals.
A real estate broker can also act as an agent, but an agent cannot function as a broker without first obtaining a broker’s license. In fact, many brokers start as agents and work their way up through the ranks by taking additional courses and gaining experience in the field.
One of the primary differences between an agent and a broker is that a broker has more legal and financial responsibilities. For example, a broker may be responsible for handling escrow accounts, keeping track of important deadlines such as closing dates, and ensuring that all parties involved in a transaction are following the laws and regulations pertaining to real estate buying and selling.
Which One to Choose
When you are looking to buy or sell a property, it is important to understand the difference between real estate agents and brokers and decide which one to work with, depending on your specific needs. If you are looking for help with buying or selling a property, a real estate agent can provide valuable expertise, information, and guidance. However, if you have more complex needs, such as managing an investment property, hiring a broker may be the better choice, as brokers offer more comprehensive services and can help you develop a long-term strategy.
In summary, both real estate agents and brokers play vital roles in the buying and selling of properties. Each has its unique set of duties and responsibilities, and it’s important to understand these differences to make an informed decision when choosing a professional to work with. Regardless of whether you choose to work with an agent or a broker, it is always wise to engage someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and well-respected within the real estate community.