What Distinguishes A Real Estate Broker From An Agent?

Posted on: 30 April 2019

The concept of agents and brokers shows up a lot in the real estate industry. Not surprisingly, this can be a source of mild confusion for buyers and sellers who are trying to hire someone to represent their interests. Let's take a look at what distinguished a real estate broker from an agent.


The most important distinction is that a broker is a fully licensed professional at the peak of the industry. In fact, an agent has to operate under the licensed of a broker. Agents are licensed, too, but to a lesser degree. Brokers in all states are expected to engage in a certain amount of course work and then to pass an exam. For example, in California the must be at least 18 years of age, have a clean criminal history, and possess experience working as a licensed salesperson before they can even take the course work.

Education for brokers covers several topics. These include courses on both real estate and business laws. Brokers also have to be educated regarding financial vehicles for buying real estate, such as loans and mortgages. They have to hold an agent's license for a set number of years, too.

A Stake in the Business

Most brokers either own the businesses they work at outright or else they're associates in the brokerage. In either case, they have a vested financial stake in the success of the brokerage.

Taking the Better Clients

While it's not an inherent requirement of the job, providers of real estate brokerage services generally elect to take on the better clients at a brokerage. In some cases, this is because they don't want to take chances loses business on account of a less experienced agent's work. In other cases, it's just because the people with a stake in the business reserve the right to take on the toughest and best-paying jobs. Typically, if you're working with a broker, then you're getting the help of an agency's A team.

Doing Other Jobs

One big reason many folks become brokers is that they can take on tasks because just selling properties. In particular, a broker can run a property management company. This makes them more appealing especially to commercial clients who may require help dealing with locations after they buy. If you're coming into the market as an investor, you might want to make it know you'd prefer to work with a real estate broker.