Unless you are familiar with the process and, sometimes even then, the process of selecting someone to represent you in a real estate transaction can be daunting. Understanding the difference between real estate agents, brokers and REALTORS can help when choosing someone to represent you in your next transaction. The process of buying a home is much more than simply searching for homes for sale on the internet. But, thanks to computers and the Internet, today’s buyers also have online access to an unlimited number of possible agents and brokers. Sorting it all out can be time consuming and full of landmines along the way—especially for first-time home buyers who are the most likely to have little experience.
Being able to identify some of the basic concepts can at least start you on the path to a positive real estate experience.
The terms real estate broker and real estate agent and realtor are often used interchangeably. but they are really quite different in the services that they can provide you whether buying or selling.
Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is someone who has passed a state licensing exam. Anyone can become a real estate agent as long as they pass the state exam and are issued a real estate agents license. Although a real estate agent can assist with searching for homes for sale in Picayune, an agent can only practice as an agent only if they are working for a licensed real estate broker. Since a real estate agent’s license is issued by the state, laws vary as to the requirements. However, in almost every state a real estate agent is required to take continuing education courses each year in order to renew their license and keep up with the latest real estate laws.
Real Estate Broker
A real estate broker is required further their education and take additional classes on real estate law and fiduciary responsibility in order to qualify for the broker’s license exam. In addition to having a fuller education, brokers can also open their own office and sell real estate either acting as the agent or having other agents work for them. As with a real estate agent, brokers must take continuing education courses to keep their license active.
A REALTOR is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. To become a member, a real estate agent and broker must agree to abide by the association’s standards and uphold the REALTOR code of ethics.
To make it simple a real estate broker, a real estate agent and a REALTOR, once licensed, can all legally represent you as a buyer and a seller in real estate transactions. The difference is in their level of education and knowledge and whether they are associated with a greater body of agents and brokers.
In all cases, an agent or broker legally has a fiduciary duty to treat you and everyone associated with the transaction fairly while keeping your best interests in mind.
Home buyers and sellers should select a real estate professional who they are confident can guide them through the quagmire of buying and selling real estate. In addition to keeping you informed at every step of the process, your agent or broker should be tech-savvy enough to help you do a complete search of the inventory currently on the market including properties online for sale at auction, not just those on the multiple listing service.”
In compiling data for its 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the NAR found that buyers wanted two things from an agent or broker who represents them: A good reputation in the industry, and honesty.
There are a lot of good agents out there ready to help you with your real estate transaction. Your job is to find the one that is the right fit for you.
Tammy Valente with Valente Real Estate is a licensed real estate broker in Mississippi as well as a REALTOR.