a realtor and a client looking over a laptop together while sitting side by side on a couch

Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and REALTORS®: What’s the Difference?

In Buyers, Sellers by Doug Phelps

“Real Estate Agent” is a catchall phrase that is often used in casual conversation to describe the three types of professionals who help clients buy and sell real estate: agents, brokers, and REALTORS®. Mistakenly, many people use these terms interchangeably but, to clarify, these three titles are not the same.  If you are ever going to purchase or sell real estate in your lifetime, you should care about what makes them different. All buyers and sellers should learn the difference between the three, from the breakdown below:

What is a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is usually a licensed professional who helps people buy, sell, rent, or invest in homes. To become an agent, a person must take pre-licensing training from a certified institution (these vary from state to state) and pass their state’s real estate licensing exam. Once they have their license, an agent must affiliate themselves with a real estate brokerage. 

Some agents specialize in representing buyers, while some specialize in representing sellers and still others do both.

What is a real estate broker?

A real estate broker is a professional who has additional education beyond the agent level, as required by state law, and who has passed a broker’s exam. In some cases, brokers also have more years of experience than agents. The biggest difference between a broker and an agent is that a broker may work independently. An agent must be overseen by a broker. 

In Colorado there is a designation of Associate Broker, who is someone that has the extra education and typically associates their license with a full brokerage firm and works alongside the employing broker of the firm and adheres to the firm’s policies and procedures.

What is a REALTOR®?

A REALTOR® is a broker, associate broker, or agent who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the largest trade group in the country. A REALTOR® commits to following a strict Code of Ethics intended to protect buyers and sellers and the consumer. A REALTOR® is the cream of the crop in the industry.

For example, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their clients. Agents and brokers who are not NAR members can’t call themselves REALTORS®. There are more than 1 million REALTORS® in the United States. You can use realtor.com®’s “Find a REALTOR®” tool to connect with one in your area.

Or simply connect with me. I belong to NAR and I am happy to help you with any lingering questions or needs you may have. 

Want to learn more about NAR? Are you in the market to buy or sell your home?  Call and text me at (720) 323-4176 or email me at [email protected]

Subscribe To Doug's Blog