Real Estate Professionals Titles Explained

If you’re new to real estate industry you are probably overwhelmed by the number of different names you hear (I was one of them). When I first started, I had no idea about it at all because I thought all of them are called agents, clearly, I am wrong. Later on, I found out that there are agents, brokers, Realtors®, seller’s agents, buyer’s agents, and the list go on.


I understand that this can be confusing and scary if you’re entering the real estate market for the first time. Look at it from a different perspective, just like any other business sectors, there are managers, executive manager, employees and many more. But you’ll benefit from knowing the difference. People tend to use these titles interchangeably, but there are some differences between the roles of the various professionals, as well as different requirements for using different titles. Each of them holds a special responsibility.


Titles for real estate professionals

The real estate profession is regulated by state governments, which have different requirements for earning a license. In general, here are some of the titles you may come across in this industry:


Real estate agent: In general, it’s anyone who earns a real estate license they are a real estate agent. It doesn’t matter if that license is as a sales professional or an associate broker because all of them look at listings on the multiple listing services and help you buy or sell your house. One thing to keep in mind is that state requirements vary, the only thing that stays the same across all the states is you must take a minimum number of classes and pass the test to earn your license.


Realtor®: A real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics.


Real estate broker: A person who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and has passed a broker’s license exam. Brokers can work alone or can hire more agents to work for them and form a group.


Real estate salesperson: Just the same as a real estate agent.


Real estate associate broker: Someone who has taken additional education classes and earned a broker’s license but chooses to work under the management of a broker.


Working with real estate professionals

It is more likely that you will work directly with a real estate salesperson or an associate broker when you are looking to sell, buy or rent the property. Some brokers provide services for buyers and sellers themselves. So the next time if you have hired a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a property, that agent typically reports to a broker and the broker will handle the earnest money deposit and establishes the escrow account. This will allow you to keep your mind at peace because the broker bears responsibility for the actions of the real estate agents under his or her supervision. While the majority of property transactions go through without any glitches. Although the chances of errors are very low, rest assure that a broker will step in if there are any problems with your home or rental property purchase or sale.


For example, if you are unhappy with your real estate agent and the way they are doing things. What you can do is you can talk directly to the broker and ask for help. Maybe he/she can introduce you to another agent who puts your priority first.


Experience and education

Typically, real estate brokers will have a higher education requires that the general real estate agent, but they should also have more experience working as an agent.


Below is the example of what it takes to have a real estate license in Virginia:

  • A salesperson must take 60 hours of classes and pass an exam with both state and national sections.
  • A broker must take 180 hours of broker-specific classes, pass an exam with both state and national sections, and have actively worked as a real estate salesperson for 36 of the previous 48 months


What I would recommend you do if you’re new to this industry is to work with professionals that are a member of the National Association of Realtors. Why? Because they are committed to maintaining professionalism in the real estate industry. This way you’ll save a lot of unnecessary errors and costly mistakes. Good luck!

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