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Difference between a real estate broker and agent

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Every now and again, I will hear someone refer to me as a Real Estate Broker... but I am not. I am a real estate agent and a Realtor. It got me to thinking that although it may not make a difference to buyers and sellers in how they interest with professionals like me, it may still be helpful to understand the difference roles in real estate.

In the world of real estate, it can be challenging to figure out what to call the real estate professionals you work with. There are different formal titles and then agents add all kinds of acronyms and credentials that make it even tougher.... Associates, Brokers, Consultants, Associate Brokers, Realtor... and the list goes on.

The first difference to share is the difference between a Broker and an Agent.

In the state of Florida, real estate agents must be licensed through the state and must register their license with a licensed real estate brokerage if they are going to actively work in real estate. Each of these is assigned a license number that is assigned by the state to track those licensed to work in real estate.

Real estate agents are not employees of the brokerage as they are independent contractors. The real estate agent performs real estate work on behalf of the real estate brokerage. Even though the real estate agent is the one that works directly with buyers and sellers to accomplish their real estate goals, the broker is the one that signs the listing agreements. The brokerage is paid a commission for the real estate services and the agent receives a portion of that commission based on the arrangement between the broker and the agent. Whether you chose a real estate brokerage and were assigned a real estate agent or you chose a real estate agent, the agreements are signed by the brokerage. Brokers are responsible for their real estate agents' actions.

A real estate agent can also be a licensed broker without managing a brokerage, these people are referred to as Broker Associates. Some real estate agents will get their brokerage license so that they can work for themselves and not under another brokerage.

So, in my case, I am a real estate agent that works directly with buyers and sellers. I hang my license with Caine Premier Properties, the licensed brokerage.

Another title that sometimes gets thrown around incorrectly is REALTOR®

A REALTOR® can be a real estate broker or a real estate agent. All REALTORS® are agents or brokers, but not all agents or brokers are REALTORS®. It's a title that means the individual belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), subscribes to its extensive Code of Ethics, and pays annual dues. Not every real estate agent belongs to NAR. Members of NAR also belong to state and local trade associations. Complaints against a REALTOR® can be filed with the local board.

In my case, I am a licensed real estate agent but I am also a REALTOR®.

Why do some people call themselves a Listing Agent or a Buyer's agent?

Some people choose to only work on one side of transactions and only list home for sale or only work with buyers looking to purchase. This is a personal preference and does not require any special license as the real estate license in Florida allows a real estate agent to work with both buyers and sellers.

Many agents, like myself, choose to work with both sellers and buyers. In my case, I find work with buyers and sellers helps me to stay fully educated and engaged in the broader real estate market which allows me to bring value to the customers I serve.

Although your day-to-day interaction takes place with the real estate agent, it is important for you to understand that your legal agreements and obligations are with the brokerage.


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