The Differences Between a Real Estate Agent vs. a Broker vs. a REALTOR®

The Differences Between a Real Estate Agent vs. a Broker vs. a REALTOR®

When it comes to the world of real estate, there are several professionals involved in the buying and selling process. Among them are real estate agents, brokers, and REALTORS®. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different roles and responsibilities. In this article, we will explore the distinctions between a real estate agent, a broker, and a REALTOR®, helping you understand their unique contributions to the real estate industry.

What is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is an individual who assists clients in buying, selling, or renting properties. Agents work under the supervision of brokers and are typically the first point of contact for individuals looking to engage in real estate transactions. They act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers, helping them navigate the complex process of buying or selling a property.

Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents perform a range of tasks, including:

  1. Property marketing and advertising.
  2. Assisting clients in property search and selection.
  3. Arranging property showings and open houses.
  4. Negotiating purchase agreements.
  5. Facilitating communication between buyers and sellers.
  6. Providing guidance on pricing and market trends.
  7. Preparing necessary documentation for transactions.
  8. Facilitating property inspections and appraisals.
  9. Assisting with the closing process.

Qualifications and Licensing for Real Estate Agents

To become a real estate agent, individuals must meet specific qualifications and obtain the necessary licenses. The requirements vary by jurisdiction, but generally involve completing a pre-licensing course, passing a licensing exam, and undergoing a background check. Additionally, real estate agents are often required to participate in continuing education to maintain their licenses and stay updated on industry practices.

a row of houses being sold by a Realtor

What is a Broker?

A broker is a higher-level real estate professional who has obtained additional training and qualifications beyond those of a real estate agent. Brokers can work independently or oversee a team of agents within a brokerage firm. They have a deeper understanding of the real estate market and possess the knowledge and skills to handle more complex transactions.

Responsibilities of a Broker

Brokers have similar responsibilities to real estate agents but often take on more managerial and supervisory roles. Their tasks may include:

  1. Hiring and training real estate agents.
  2. Managing transactions and overseeing contracts.
  3. Providing legal and financial advice to clients.
  4. Conducting market research and analysis.
  5. Developing marketing strategies for properties.
  6. Ensuring compliance with real estate laws and regulations.

Qualifications and Licensing for Brokers

To become a broker, individuals must typically have several years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. They must also complete additional education and training specific to their jurisdiction. This may involve advanced coursework, passing a broker licensing exam, and meeting certain experience requirements. Brokers are held to higher professional standards and often have more stringent licensing requirements than agents.

What is a REALTOR®?

A realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), a trade association for real estate agents and brokers. While all realtors are licensed real estate agents, not all agents or brokers are realtors. Realtors adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice set forth by the CREA, promoting professionalism and integrity in the real estate industry.

Responsibilities of a REALTOR®

open house showing sign for sale by a realtor

REALTORS® have the same responsibilities as real estate agents and brokers but are also committed to upholding the ethical standards set by the CREA. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Providing fiduciary duty to clients.
  2. Advocating for their clients' best interests.
  3. Promoting fair housing practices.
  4. Maintaining high professional standards.
  5. Participating in ongoing education and training.

Qualifications and Licensing for REALTOR®

To become a REALTOR®, individuals must first become licensed real estate agents. They can then apply for membership with the CREA and adhere to the association's code of ethics. REALTORS® are required to complete ethics training and renew their membership annually.

Key Differences Between a Real Estate Agent, Broker, and REALTOR®

While real estate agents, brokers, and REALTORS® all play vital roles in the real estate industry, there are significant differences between them:

  1. Licensing: Real estate agents and brokers must obtain state licenses, while REALTORS® are licensed professionals who are also members of the CREA.
  2. Supervision: Real estate agents work under the supervision of brokers, while brokers may work independently or oversee a team of agents.
  3. Education and Training: Brokers have additional education and experience requirements beyond those of agents. Realtors must also adhere to the ethical standards set by CREA.
  4. Responsibilities: Real estate agents focus on day-to-day tasks, while brokers have more managerial and supervisory responsibilities. Realtors commit to upholding the ethical standards of the NAR.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between a real estate agent, a broker, and a REALTOR® is crucial when navigating the real estate market. Each role has its unique set of responsibilities, qualifications, and licensing requirements. By familiarizing yourself with these distinctions, you can make informed decisions and choose the right professional to assist you in your real estate endeavors.

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.