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What is the Difference between a Real Estate Agent and a Broker?

Looking to buy your first (or second, or third, or fiftieth) home? You have probably considered working with a professional who is well-versed in the real estate market in your area. Maybe you have asked around for recommendations or even attended an open house or two. While meeting real estate professionals, you will most likely come across two people who would be a real asset in your home-buying journey—a real estate agent and a broker. But what exactly is the difference?

An agent: a licensed pro

The majority of people who you will meet during your home search are real estate agents. These individuals have taken and passed a state licensing exam, which almost always includes an academic class requirement as well as the test. Agents work for a real estate office to help you buy a home, sell your home, and can even help you find a rental.

A Realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. These professionals must be members of a local real estate association. The NAR also enforces codes of conduct to ensure all of members act professionally and ethically in their business.

A broker: the big boss

A real estate broker is someone who has taken and passed the broker’s exam, which is more comprehensive and rigorous than the agent’s exam. Professionals usually choose to pursue the path the become brokers if they plan to open their own firm or hire agents to work for them. These individuals generally have more experience but may spend more of their time in a managerial role.

Both agents and brokers are valuable professionals to have in your corner during the home buying or selling process. Make sure to ask for their credentials, including their licensing information, if it is the first time you will be working together. Asking for references from happy clients is another great way to feel confident knowing you have a great fit.

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