The Differences Between A Real Estate Agent, A Broker, And A Realtor

Have you ever wondered what makes the individuals who assist you in buying or selling a house different? In the real estate industry, it is common to hear about brokers, Realtors, and agents, but what each position entails is not always obvious. Knowing who does what in real estate is incredibly important. It counts if you are considering a career in this industry, purchasing your first home, or even selling a property. 

In this blog post, we will explain in simple terms what makes these real estate professionals different from each other. By the end of this, you’ll have a clear idea about who you’re working with the next time you’re involved in buying or selling a property.

What is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps clients buy or sell real estate by facilitating property transactions. They are knowledgeable about property laws, market conditions, and negotiation strategies. In their role, these agents assist clients by

  • Listing properties for sale by advertising them on various platforms. 
  • Conducting market analyses, researching recent sales of similar properties in the area, and considering factors like location, property condition, and local amenities.
  • Hosting open houses to showcase properties to potential buyers. 
  • Negotiating deals between buyers and sellers. 

Real Estate Agent vs Realtor

While all Realtors are real estate agents, not all agents are Realtors. The key difference lies in the realtor designation, which indicates that an agent is a National Association of Realtors (NAR) member. What sets a realtor apart from a real estate agent? 

  • NAR Membership: Realtors are National Association of Realtors members, unlike standard real estate agents.
  • Ethical Standards: They adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, ensuring higher conduct and fairness.
  • Professional Development: Realtors often pursue ongoing education and certifications offered by NAR.
  • Exclusive Resources: Realtors have access to specialized market data, tools, and legal resources unique to NAR members.
  • Advocacy for property rights: Realtors, through NAR, are often involved in advocacy efforts for property rights and real estate industry-related policies at local, state, and national levels.

What is a Real Estate Broker?

A real estate broker is a step above an agent, often with more extensive education and a higher level of licensing. Brokers can work independently or own brokerages, hiring agents to work under them. Their primary responsibilities include overseeing real estate transactions, ensuring legal compliance, and managing agents. 

What makes them different from real estate agents?

If you’re unsure about what a real estate broker is, understand that, unlike agents, brokers undergo additional coursework and a licensing exam. This equips them with a more extensive understanding of real estate law and management.

Key Insights:

  • Initially, both brokers and realtors start their professional journey in real estate as agents. With time and additional training, they advance in their careers.
  • Being a realtor is a designated status that a real estate agent can achieve, signifying adherence to specific professional standards.
  •  In terms of income, both brokers in real estate and realtors primarily earn through commission-based structures.

Understanding the Roles of Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Realtors

In the real estate industry, the roles of agents, brokers, and Realtors are distinct, each with specific duties, salary structures, levels of autonomy, and experience requirements.The real difference between a realtor and a broker, or between a realtor and a real estate agent, comes down to their jobs and experience.


Real estate agents focus on client interactions, aiding in buying, selling, or renting properties. They manage property listings, conduct open houses, and handle transaction paperwork. Real estate brokers tend to concentrate more on managerial positions. They oversee the operational aspects of a real estate firm, supervise agents, and ensure legal compliance. Realtors, who can be either agents or brokers, adhere to a strict code of ethics set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), committing to higher standards of professional conduct.


Real estate agents and brokers typically earn commissions on property sales or rentals. Brokers, due to their higher level of responsibility and ability to manage a firm, often have the potential for higher earnings compared to agents. Realtors, depending on their role as agents or brokers, see similar commission-based earnings but may have additional income opportunities due to their NAR membership and ethical reputation.


Real estate agents generally work under the supervision of brokers and have less operational control. Brokers are free to manage their own companies and take on more significant business decisions. Realtors operate within the ethical guidelines established by the NAR as association members, which may impact their independence and business methods.


Becoming a broker requires more extensive training and a higher level of licensing than what is necessary for an agent. This additional expertise allows brokers to handle more complex real estate transactions and business management aspects. Regardless of being agents or brokers, realtors must maintain their NAR membership and adhere to continuous professional development standards.

Understanding these differences is crucial for clients seeking real estate services and professionals considering a career in this dynamic industry.

Concluding Thoughts 

In a nutshell, real estate agents, brokers, and realtors each play a vital role in the property world. For instance, consider the scenario of a first-time homebuyer seeking guidance through the complex process of purchasing a property. 

Agents are the go-to pros for helping you buy, sell, or lease properties. Brokers, with their extra training, are the big-picture managers overseeing the legal and operational side of real estate businesses. 

And Realtors? They’re the ones who take it up a notch, adhering to top-tier ethical standards. So, whether you’re looking for a home, selling, or navigating property legalities, there’s a specialist in the real estate realm ideally suited to your needs.


Kristin Egmont

Kristin is apart of the Vartulli | Jabick Team at Keller Williams Gold Coast in Westport, CT. The value of working with Kristin is that she is a part of one of the top performing teams in Fairfield County. In addition to Kristin supporting you her team will as well!

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