What's the difference between a realtor and a broker?
When buying and selling real estate, you can get hit with a lot of terminology! One of the first and most important questions you’ll want answered is whether you’re working with a single agent or a transaction broker. (You can read more about that here!) But it’s also important to know if the person representing you in the transaction is a Realtor or a Broker. First, what’s the difference?
What is a Realtor?
A Realtor is also known as a sales associate. These are licensed real estate professionals who are able to represent buyers or sellers in the purchase or sale of properties. They earn commissions on the transactions they help to close. As real estate professionals, they guide their clients through the entire transaction, from showings to final negotiations.
How does one become a Realtor?
You must complete a pre-licensing course that is 63 hours long. Then you must submit an application with your fingerprints to the state and pass the Florida real estate sales associate exam. If you pass, you will be licensed in Florida to practice real estate and in 10 other states that hold reciprocity with Florida. Moving forward, you must complete post-licensing and continuing education classes to maintain your license. And, perhaps the most important part: a Realtor must hang their license at a brokerage in order to practice real estate; a brokerage owned by a real estate broker.
What is a Real Estate Broker?
A real estate broker is a Realtor, or sales associate, who has had their active real estate license for at least 24 months. The broker can operate with or without a brokerage, and they can have sales associates work for them. A broker can do everything that a sales associate can do, but a sales associate cannot perform the duties of a broker. Brokers must oversee any sales associates working for them and are responsible for making sure their clients are being treated fairly according to the law. If they fail to do this, they could be disciplined or even lose their licenses. If a broker chooses only to act as a sales associate, they must advertise themselves as a broker sales associate so that it’s clear they’re not responsible for other sales associates’ compliance. In short, they’re only choosing to be responsible for themselves.
Does it matter who you choose?
Many experienced, full-time real estate professionals are not real estate brokers. Many real estate brokers have not been involved in a real estate transaction for many years. So the answer is: it matters greatly who you choose! But not because one title implies more or less experience and competence.
Choose a Realtor who works hard to earn your business. This could look like a Realtor who can act as a single agent, one who brings relevant information to each of your meetings, and who is available to communicate during business hours. Ask your Realtor about his or her broker and what kind of relationship they have. A Realtor with an active broker means you’ll have a lot more than one person in your corner for what is likely the biggest transaction you’ll ever make. The relationship between your Realtor and his/her broker will tell you a lot about them. Even if your Realtor is a broker associate, he/she should still have regular access to a broker who oversees the transaction.