What is the difference between a real estate agent, broker, and Realtor?
If you’re thinking about selling your house, you may consider hiring a professional to help. But should you hire a real estate agent, a broker, or a Realtor? Does it matter?
You’ll often see the terms agent, broker, and Realtor used interchangeably. In fact, one person can be all three – but that’s not always the case.
Here’s how each term breaks down, and what it means for you
Real Estate Agent
A Real Estate Agent is someone who buys or sells property on behalf of a client.
All real estate agents in Texas must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). Agents must have at least 180 hours of education with a qualified real estate school, and pass a written exam. These are some of the toughest requirements in the U.S.!
But that’s not all – in order to activate their license, a real estate agent must be sponsored by a licensed real estate broker.
You can (and should!) check a real estate agent’s license online before you hire them.
Real Estate Broker
Similar to an agent, a Real Estate Broker is also licensed by TREC to buy and sell real estate on behalf of clients.
The key difference is that brokers are generally the owners or managers of real estate firms, also called brokerages. Brokers sponsor and supervise agents, to make sure they’re representing their clients’ best interests.
Requirements to get a broker’s license in Texas are much tougher than they are for an agent. Brokers must have at least 270 hours of real estate education, plus a whopping 630 hours studying approved Continuing Education subjects. These include accounting, real estate law, business management, taxes, and finance.
On top of the classroom requirements, brokers need a minimum of four years’ experience as a licensed agent, and they must pass a written exam.
Some brokers operate or run real estate brokerages, with many real estate agents working for them. Others, known as associate brokers, have a broker’s license and work directly with clients, but they do not supervise any agents.
As a home seller, you may hire either a real estate broker or one of their sponsored or employed agents. Brokers do stay engaged in the real estate industry, so it’s possible you might end up working with one, depending on your circumstances and the brokerage you choose.
You may hear the term “Realtor” used interchangeably with real estate agent or broker. However, they are not the same thing!
Specifically, a Realtor is a real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members in good standing can call themselves Realtors in advertisements and marketing materials. In fact, the NAR will aggressively pursue legal action against any non-member who uses the term Realtor!
NAR says its members must follow a strict Code of Ethics and meet other requirements in order to wear the Realtor badge.
Another way to think of it: all Realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors.
When Should You Hire a Real Estate Agent?
When you decide to sell your home, hiring an agent is probably one of the first things that comes to mind.
For some people, this can be the best approach. You’ll want to consider using a real estate agent or broker if you match these criteria:
- You want to show your house to many prospective buyers and get multiple bids
- You aren’t in a hurry to sell, but you don’t want to deal with selling on your own / For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
- Your house is in excellent shape and doesn’t need any kind of repairs
- You don’t mind being displaced from the home for showings, and you don’t have a problem with getting kids / pets out of the home multiple times a week
- You need to move / have already moved out of town or out of state, and you can’t be present to take care of the sale
There’s one big caveat with hiring a real estate agent: you’ll need to pay them thousands of dollars for their service. Agents’ commissions will cut about 6 percent from the home’s final sale price; half to your agent, and half to the buyer’s agent, in most cases.
The real estate agent route isn’t ideal for everyone. You may not want to hire an agent under these conditions:
- You need to sell right away, and can’t wait weeks or months for an agent to list and find buyers
- You’re moving and want to sell immediately
- Your home needs major repairs
- You are behind on your mortgage or facing foreclosure
- You can’t easily remove family, pets, and yourself from the home every time there is a showing
- Your house has tenants living in it
- You inherited the house, or it is going through probate
- You need to sell as part of a divorce agreement
- There is a lien or judgment against the property
Here’s some good news: Local Cash Buyers can help!
We are not real estate agents, and we buy houses fast. We buy any kind of residential property in any condition – from pristine to falling apart. There are no conditions, no appraisals, no inspections, and no waiting on bank financing. We pay cash, which means you can sell immediately and get on with your life.
Here’s how our simple process works:
- You contact us and request a free, no-obligation consultation. It only takes about 15 minutes over the phone!
- We arrange a brief visit to your property at a time that works for you.
- Within 24 hours of our visit, we make you a no-obligation, written, all-cash offer
- If you accept, we can close in as little as 7 days
Imagine being out of your house as early as this time next week. We can make it happen if you call Local Cash Buyers today!