Hey, don’t feel ashamed for not knowing what is the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent. This is truly one of the most common real estate confusions out there. And the reason is that telling what is the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent is not so simple; there’s a lot of conditions and no straight answer.
But we’ll do our best!
In a general sense, this little wordplay can help: all Brokers are Agents but not all Agents are Brokers.
And the reason why not all agents are brokers is that, typically, brokers are required to have more education and professional experience than real estate agents. All the way to certification, Brokers need to go through bigger lengths to exercise the position.
The real estate agent is the one home sellers and home buyers usually deal with. He or she is individually licensed by the state to work aiding the public in housing transactions. However, it is the broker that’s the one who's allowed to list your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the one who has the license to deal with all the closing process. The agent might (and will) be the interface with you, but the one allowed to sign the papers and overviewing the process is the broker. Because of that, all agents must work under brokers; otherwise, they cannot collect their commission.
However, here comes the stuff that makes it difficult to tell what is the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent:
While most brokers essentially work as brokers - with agents under their brokerage, making money off the bulk - there are some who prefer to fly solo and do the whole 9 yards of agency and brokerage alone. Besides that, the definition of both a broker and an agent and their responsibilities can vary from state to state. So it becomes hard to point out what is the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent as a whole, because Virginia Beach Real Estate Agents might not be allowed to perform the same duties as Nashville Real Estate Agents, for instance. The number of hours, classes, experience, and whatever other factor determines which is which are set in accordance to each state’s board of professional guidelines. In other words: the “broker bar” can be higher or lower from place to place.
But what’s true anywhere is that a Broker is a higher certification than an Agent.