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The Choosi Blog

Real Estate Agent, Broker, or Realtor: What's the Difference?

Planning to buy or sell a home? There's a good chance you'll work with a real estate professional, but it can be confusing to understand the differences between them. In this blog post, we'll break down the distinctions between a real estate agent, broker, and realtor, and what each one does. So what's the difference?

Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents are licensed professionals who help people buy, sell, and rent properties. Real estate agents work on a commission basis and receive a percentage of the sale price of a property. The commission is typically split between the buyer's agent, the listing agent, and their respective brokerage firms. Here's what you need to know about becoming a real estate agent:

  • Requirements vary by state but typically one must be at least 18 years old, complete state-required pre-licensing classes, pass a licensing exam, complete a background check, and be sponsored by a licensed real estate broker.

  • Real estate agents can represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction (sometimes both).

  • Agents organize transactions between buyers and sellers, carry offers and counteroffers between each party, help clients fill out paperwork, and ensure all requirements to complete the sale are met.

Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers are licensed professionals who have completed additional training and licensing requirements beyond those for agents. They can work independently and start their own brokerage, and they may employ other agents. Here's what you need to know about real estate brokers:

  • Associate brokers have broker licenses but choose to work under another broker and typically do not supervise other agents.

  • Managing brokers oversee transactions and daily operations in the office. They’re responsible for hiring new agents, training them, and managing administrative staff.

  • Principal/designated brokers supervise real estate agents to make sure they comply with real estate regulations and standards. Each firm has a principal/designated broker.


Realtors are real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They can be agents, brokers, or other professionals in the industry. Here's what you need to know about realtors:

  • Members of the NAR must comply with a strict Code of Ethics that outlines their duties to clients, customers, the public, and other realtors.

  • Realtors have access to additional training and educational resources.

  • Working with a realtor who is a member of the NAR can provide added benefits, such as access to exclusive listings and marketing tools.

Is it Better to Use a Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Agent?

Truthfully, the distinction won’t make much of a difference as you’re looking to buy or sell your home. Ultimately, the most important factor is to find a licensed professional who you feel comfortable working with and who has a track record of success in helping clients achieve their real estate goals.

A couple more terms you should know and understand as you’re looking to buy:

Listing Agent

First up, we have the listing agent. This type of real estate agent represents home sellers and is responsible for helping them sell their home. From setting the right price, to marketing the property on listing services, to coordinating open houses and showings, a listing agent handles a wide range of tasks to ensure that their client’s home is sold quickly and for the best possible price. They also negotiate with potential buyers and oversee the closing process.

Buyer’s Agent

On the other side of the coin, we have buyer’s agents. As their name suggests, these agents work with home buyers to help them find their perfect home. They are responsible for navigating the housing market, identifying suitable homes, negotiating offers, and recommending other professionals such as mortgage brokers or real estate attorneys. Home buyers are often relieved to know that the seller typically pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent, so there’s no added cost to them for this valuable service.

Many people find their real estate agents through referrals from friends, brokerage sites, or ads but this is often not the best way to find the person who’s going to help you make the most important decision of your life. Choosi will match you with a top real estate agent in your area based on personalized criteria. If you’re interested, you can get matched today. Once you receive your matches, here's a helpful post on questions to ask them.

Whether you're ready to find your dream agent or just want to stay in the know about the latest home buying news, be sure to subscribe!

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