Dumb question: What's the difference between brokers vs agents?

In General Area - Asked by Mark H. - Sep 23, 2008
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Answer(s)

Nolan T.
Broker/Agent
Detroit, MI

Not a thing. It’s semantics. Commercial real estate brokers like being called “brokers.” People who sell residential real estate like being called “agents.” There’s slightly more to it than that, but truthfully there is no difference. You should call the person on the phone, or in the email, whatever they identify themselves as. By default, I would call them a “broker” (they may correct you and say “agent,” at which point you should start calling them an agent). Note that in some areas of the country, the designation “Broker” carries greater liabilities and responsibilities.

Sep 23, 2008
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Gregory T.
Broker/Agent
San Francisco, CA

In California there is a legal difference between Agents and Brokers. Agents work for and under Brokers, because Brokers are responsible for supervising their agents and ultimately responsible for their actions.
They are also two different types of licenses in California. With the "Agent" type being much easier to obtain, because you will be working under a licensed and experienced broker.

Oct 20, 2008
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Juan G.
Broker/Agent
Ontario, CA

Disregard the previous answers, one is wrong and the other oversimplified. My answer applies to California and may vary from state to state.
An individual starting out in the real estate industry first recieves his real estate agents license and works under a real estate broker, regardless of specialization. They would be an agent of the broker. The broker is the main salesperson who is working as a broker between buyers and sellers. The agent actually caries out the tasks.
You must be a broker to start a real estate company or to be an officer or office manager. An agent is an independant contractor but still works under a broker. The broker carries legal liability over his agents acts of misconduct under "respondent superior".
To obtain a real estate agent license in California you need to take a Real Estate Prcinciples class, then pass the licensing test.
To obtain a real estate broker license you need; Associate degree, One year in real estate, and to complete eight courses related to real estate (RE prinicples, RE practices, RE finance, RE economics, RE escrow, RE appraisal,RE law, RE management). Or a Bachelors degree, the classes I mentioned, and passing the licensing test. Or two years experience, the classes, and passing the test.
Check your states department of Real Estate website for further explanation.

Oct 20, 2008
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Chris S.
Broker/Agent
Coeur D'alene, ID

Broker - more education and often more experience.
Agent - entry level and must work under the supervision of a broker.
License laws vary from state to state. Depending on your past experience and education some states allow you to apply directly for a broker's license. Others require you to first obtain an agent's license for a specified time period.

Jan 16, 2009
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Gregory G.
Broker/Agent
San Francisco, CA

I am a Broker in California. Brokers can work independently and/or employ other agents and brokers. Agents must work for (hang their license with) a broker. A Broker's license is more difficult to get than an agents license (longer test, more classes, education/on the job experience requirements).
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Gregory Garver - Commercial Real Estate Broker
Broker License# 01716531
(415)968-6065
greg@nnnbrokersusa.com
http://www.gregorygarver.com

Jun 11, 2011
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Chris S.
Broker/Agent
Coeur D'alene, ID

It's different state by state. Some states like Washington no longer have "agents" and others like Idaho never did have agents, they only have broker or salesperson. In general a broker is someone with more experience, education and liability.

Mar 11, 2013
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