In the realm of real estate, two key players take center stage: the real estate broker and the real estate agent. While they share similarities in their roles, they have distinct responsibilities and qualifications.

If you're considering a career in the real estate industry or are looking to buy or sell a property, it's essential to grasp the difference between these two professionals. In this article, we will break down the similarities and differences between a broker and agent, helping you navigate the world of real estate with confidence.

The simple distinction

A broker is a real estate agent who has met advanced licensing and experience requirements. Brokers can supervise agents, own a brokerage, and take commissions.

In other words, a broker is a more powerful, experienced agent. Let's explore both job titles in more detail, further breaking down the differences between the two.

Real estate agent

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers during property transactions. These professionals facilitate the process of buying, selling, or renting properties on behalf of their clients. Here are the primary characteristics of a real estate agent:

  • Licensing: To become a real estate agent, individuals must complete the required pre-licensing education, pass a state-approved licensing exam, and maintain continuing education credits to stay updated on industry practices.
  • Supervision: Real estate agents are required to work under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker. This arrangement provides agents with valuable guidance and mentorship, especially when they are starting their careers.
  • Day-to-day operations: Real estate agents are actively engaged in assisting clients with property showings, negotiations, drafting contracts, and coordinating transactions. They often focus on building relationships and generating leads to expand their client base.
  • Income: Agents earn their income through commissions derived from successful property transactions, but they cannot directly receive commissions from clients. Instead, the seller pays the listing broker upon the property's successful sale. Subsequently, the listing broker divides the commission with the listing agent. The broker may also share the commission with the buyer's broker, who, in turn, may further divide it with the buyer's agent. This commission-sharing system ensures that all parties involved in the transaction receive fair compensation for their respective roles.

Real estate broker

A real estate broker holds a higher level of responsibility within the real estate industry and can perform all the duties of a real estate agent. However, brokers have additional qualifications and capabilities. Here's what sets real estate brokers apart:

  • Higher licensing requirements: Becoming a real estate broker involves obtaining additional education and experience beyond what is required to become an agent. The exact requirements vary by state but often include a certain number of years as a licensed agent, a minimum number of transactions, and completion of advanced real estate courses.
  • Owning a brokerage: A significant distinction between agents and brokers is that brokers have the option to establish and operate their own real estate brokerage. This allows them to build their brand, hire agents, and create a team.
  • Supervision of agents: Brokers have the authority to supervise and manage real estate agents and other brokers working under their brokerage. They are responsible for ensuring that all transactions adhere to legal and ethical standards.
  • Taking commissions: Real estate brokers take commissions from clients once a transaction is completed. Then they split it with the other parties involved in the transaction. Commission rates are negotiable and vary depending on the brokerage, an agent's experience level, and other factors.


While both real estate brokers and real estate agents are crucial players in the industry, they have different roles and responsibilities. Real estate agents work under the supervision of brokers and focus on facilitating property transactions. On the other hand, real estate brokers have more advanced qualifications, can supervise agents, and have the option to establish their own brokerages.

Understanding these distinctions can help you make informed decisions when choosing a professional to assist you or when considering a career in this dynamic and rewarding field.

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