Agent vs Broker vs REALTOR®
How to determine what type of specialist fits your needs best.
For most of us, understanding many of the nuances of real estate can be difficult. With the market fluctuating frequently, plus a litany of regulations and standard practices that may seem counter-intuitive, it’s almost always best to seek the help of a real estate professional. In fact, many times, a licensed professional is required to represent/aid you in purchasing or selling a property.
That being said, picking the right type of professional is not as straight-forward as it may seem. While the terms “agent, broker and realtor” are often fairly interchangeable in layman’s terms, each actually designates a particular type of real estate professional and differentiates them from one another. In this month’s blog post, we’ll look at the differences between each term and why you may prefer one type of professional over another.
Simply put, a real estate agent is someone who has a professional license to help people buy, sell, or rent all sorts of housing and real estate. An agent has completed at least the basic requirements of their licensing board, and likely won’t specialize in any particular type of property.
While there’s nothing wrong with choosing a real estate agent to handle your real estate needs, an agent will typically have the lowest level of credentials of the three types of real estate professionals we’ll be covering today.
A real estate broker is someone who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and passed a broker’s license exam.
Much like real estate agent exams, each state sets its own broker education and exam requirements. In Texas, this means that a broker must have a minimum of four years experience and complete additional coursework covering topics such as ethics, contracts, taxes and insurance — and at a more in-depth and thorough level than what is taught in a real estate agent pre-licensing course. Prospective brokers also learn about real estate legal issues and how the law applies to operating a brokerage, real estate investments, construction, and property management.
There are typically three types of real estate brokers – with subtle differences between each and what they handle:
- Principal/designated broker: Each real estate firm has a principal/designated broker. This person oversees all licensed real estate agents at the firm and ensures that agents are operating in compliance with state and national real estate law. Like real estate agents, principal brokers get paid on commission—taking a cut of the commissions of the sales agents they supervise (although many principal brokers receive an annual base salary).
- Managing broker: This person oversees the day-to-day operation and transactions of the office and typically takes a hands-on approach to hiring agents, training new agents, and managing administrative staff. (Some principal/designated brokers also serve as managing brokers.)
- Associate broker: This real estate professional—sometimes called a broker associate, broker-salesperson, or affiliate broker—has a broker’s license but is working under a managing broker. This person typically is not responsible for supervising other agents.
Boiling it down, a broker will have demonstrated more experience and have a more thorough and diverse education in real estate than a real estate agent will.
Finally, we look at the highest designation of real estate professional – a REALTOR®. In order to become a Realtor—and earn the ability to use this prestigious title—an agent needs to be a member of the National Association of Realtors®. As a member, a person subscribes to the standards of the association and its code of ethics.
All realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are realtors. The title of “realtor” is an exclusive designation available to real estate agents who have demonstrated the highest levels of qualification. Think of it as sort of the difference between having a bachelor’s degree or obtaining a PhD. Being a realtor requires meeting an extremely high level of professionalism and service, as well as adherence to a strict code of ethics and best practices that other real estate agents don’t have to uphold. Inclusion in the National Association of Realtors can be revoked if agents are not meeting these high standards, or staying current with training and familiarity with various legal contracts and forms.
Realtors will offer you the highest quality of service, highest level of experience and expertise, and most diverse skillset in the real estate business.
How Bownds Ranches Factors In
Here at Bownds Ranches, we’re proud to claim that owner/principal, Brandon Bownds, is a licensed broker and is also a member of the National Association of Realtors. This means that in addition to his designation as a real estate broker, Brandon is also a REALTOR® and maintains the exacting. standards of professionalism, training and ethics that is required by the National Association of Realtors.
As such, Bownds Ranches is equipped to handle all sorts of real estate needs, and has a deep background in aiding with a variety of real estate services, including selling, buying, insurance and taxes. Bownds Ranches always has up-to-date forms and stays current on the latest trainings and industry practices. When you choose Bownds Ranches, you’re getting a premier level of honesty, integrity, capability and experience.
It’s just another way we deliver on our motto of Honest, Trustworthy Representation.