Agents and Brokers: What's in a Name?

So you're in the market and looking to buy or sell a home. Or maybe you're looking to start your career in real estate. You're set on your decision, but you don't know where to start; do you need the expertise of an agent or a broker? Is there a major difference?

Agents and Brokers: What's in a Name?
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Well, both agents and brokers can perform most of the same tasks, but the difference lies in the years of experience.


Agents meet with clients looking to either buy or sell then accommodate those respective needs. For clients looking to buy, agents find houses that meet their wish list items to houses on the market. Once the clientele has their heart set on a property, the agent makes an offer and further counter offers if needed. Clients are aided with details such as moving dates, home inspections, paperwork, and the like.

Agents also help clients sell properties by hosting open houses, organize deals concerning buying or selling a property. They take care of everything from the client or owner's initial interest in transferring the property title up until the deal is finalized, they are typically paid a commission from a percentage of a property's selling price.

An operating agent would be certified through required classes and a real estate licensing exam. Additionally, they would also operate under the supervision of a broker or work within a brokerage.


A broker is a step above an agent: this title requires more education which comes with more ability. They do everything an agent does with the added benefits of being able to work independently, under another broker as a broker's associate, or supervising other agents who are either independent or work through their brokerage.

Brokers do the same as agents — matching clients to properties, negotiating property prices, closing deals, and so forth — they just have more experience and education. To reach that level, agents must keep their title for a certain amount of years, depending on their area's bylaws, then take a separate licensing exam to become a broker. Like agents, brokers are also paid a commission through a percentage of the closing price on a property.

All in all, the job titles are quite similar and there is a lot of overlapping duties between the two. Agents are licensed to sell properties within the area they are certified, however, they must work under the supervision of a broker to do so. Brokers can do all the duties agents can while also having the freedom to work independently or own their own brokerage.