“I want to get into Real Estate.” If you – or anyone you know – has ever considered embarking on a new career in the real estate industry, I bet you’ve uttered some version of that sentence. But, “getting into Real Estate” isn’t quite specific enough, and understanding the key differences between the two types of real estate professionals – agents and brokers – is absolutely essential for anyone considering taking the leap into real estate. Before you jump feet first into real estate training, take the time to understand what it means to be a real estate agent vs. a broker. A complete understanding of the differences will give you the perspective you need to manage expectations in the short term while also taking the necessary steps to achieve your long-term goals.
What is a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent (or salesperson) is a catch-all term for anyone who earns a real estate license – whether that person is a sales professional, an associate broker, or a broker. While state requirements vary, anyone referring to themselves as a real estate agent will have successfully completed a minimum amount of real estate education and passed a licensing exam.
An agent must take 60 hours of classes and pass an exam that includes both state and national sections. Aspiring agents can take classes online or in person at local trade schools or community colleges, and do not need a college degree to sit for their exam.
In many cases, when people think of “typical” real estate professional responsibilities, they’re thinking of agents. Agents are responsible for:
- Working with homeowners and home buyers to buy, sell, or rent properties.
- Meeting and talking with clients to learn all the specifics about the properties the clients are buying or selling – namely, what kind of property they want, what they are willing to sell or pay, and any “must-have” amenities on the clients’ lists.
- Working alongside a real estate broker to find properties that suit their clients’ needs.
Day to Day Responsibilities:
An agent’s day to day responsibilities are heavily client-focused. Agents are responsible for communicating with existing clients, following up with potential clients, and making sure that clients are made aware of promising properties or potential buyers in a timely fashion. An agent is the first point of communication for a client and must be available to respond to client requests or concerns in a timely manner.
What is a Real Estate Broker?
In the simplest terms, a broker is a real estate professional that has successfully completed education requirements beyond the agent level (as required by state laws) and has passed a broker’s license exam. Unlike agents, real estate brokers can work alone or hire agents to work for them.
Brokers are subject to more stringent education requirements than real estate agents. They must successfully complete 180 hours of broker-specific education and then pass an exam with both state and national sections. In addition, brokers must have practical experience as a real estate agent and be able to show that they have actively worked as a real estate agent for thirty-six of the previous forty-eight months.
While agents are the first point of communication for clients, brokers are responsible for managing all the agents their supervision. In some cases, this will only involve negotiating sales and overseeing real estate transactions – and in the majority of cases, transactions go through without a hitch! But, when agent-client relationships or sales processes hit a roadblock, the broker is responsible for stepping in and using his or her experience to find a resolution to any issues.
Brokers have a much broader span of authority than agents do, and a broker has an impressive list of potential day-to-day tasks as a result. If you find this list daunting, don’t worry. Most new agents would! That’s why it’s absolutely vital that agents work under a broker/mentor at the start of their career. This mentor will act as an example of how to successfully manage a team of agents – and display the time-management skills necessary to manage a brokerage.
On a daily basis, a broker will:
- Represent Sellers – including marketing homes for sale, negotiating prices, managing transactions, showing homes, prospecting seller leads, prospecting buyer leads, conducting open houses, and renting residential and commercial units.
- Manage Agents – including recruiting new agents, training agents, resolving conflicts, reviewing contracts, establishing escrow accounts, distributing leads to agents, and managing compliance.
- Market the brokerage
- Manage properties
- Act as a liaison for government and professional organizations
- Manage records
- Manage relationships with vendors
In the simplest terms, brokers are responsible for the “big picture” while agents are responsible for managing individual client relationships. Which is why nobody starts a career as a broker! It’s vitally important to spend the first few years of your career as an agent – learning all you can about your market, the industry, and what it takes to be successful. Then you’ll be set up for success and ready to build your own brokerage – and build your own team!