With a strong housing market and more opportunities to invest, more Americans are beginning to think about purchasing a home for the first time. Upon making the decision, they make the next step to hire a professional in real estate, but quickly find themselves confused by the different names and titles of the professionals. In order to help elevate some of the confusion future homeowners may experience, I have provided an overview of some of the titles that real estate professionals have, and how they differ from one another.

Real Estate Broker
A real estate broker is a real estate professional that has not only attained their real estate license to sell homes, but generally have additional education beyond the certification. In order to become certified as a broker, a person must complete the additional education requirements that their state may require, as well as pass a comprehensive broker’s exam. Because of the amount of additional information that brokers are required to know, the exam is more difficult and detailed than the real estate agent certification exam. One of the most significant differences between a real estate broker and real estate agent is that a broker has the ability to work independently or hire their own real estate agents to work for them. On the contrary, real estate agents are not allowed to work independently like a broker.

Real Estate Agent
Like its name states, a real estate agent is a professional that has earned their real estate license in order to sell properties in some capacity. Unlike a real estate broker, agents are not allowed to work independently. For many professionals working in real estate, becoming an agent is a strong first step in being successful in the industry.

Similar to both agents and brokers in the sense that they can sell homes, the title, realtor, has one big difference. A person with the official title of a realtor has attained their real estate certification, but in addition to that, is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. To maintain their position in the National Association of Realtors, a realtor must follow the standards of the association and its code of ethics. The code of ethics include 17 articles that they must abide by. An example includes not collecting any commission or fees from third-party vendors without the home seller’s explicit knowledge and consent. The code of ethics works to maintain a high standard for the industry.

While there are similarities and differences between real estate agents, real estate brokers and realtors, they are all certified to sell homes. A potential buyer’s preferences and comfort level will oftentimes influence the type of real estate professional that they use in the search. Buying and selling a home can be a stressful situation, so understanding the options for real estate professionals can help to alleviate the stress, in order to make the process an exciting and enjoyable experience.