Real estate professionals go by different job titles, real estate agents, brokers, associate brokers, sales agents, realtors etc. The titles can be a little confusing for someone entering the real estate market for the first time, but it is important to know that the terms are not interchangeable.
Anyone who earns a real estate license is called a real estate agent. The general purpose of a real estate license is to ensure that the agents work within the laws of the state and to protect the consumers from malpractices and fraud.
The titles buyer’s agent, seller’s agent, dual agent, transaction agent or coordinator are terms used depending on the role of the real estate agent in the process of ownership change of property. Most terms are self explanatory and the roles need not be rigid. A real estate agent acting as a buyer’s agent for a certain party maybe a seller’s agent or a dual agent for a completely unrelated party. The agent need not hold different licenses for these activities.
To become a real estate agent, the interested candidate has to apply as per the procedure and guidelines of the state they want to obtain a license in. There is no “national license” in the US, with each state having its own rules, regulations and examination for obtaining a real estate license. The titles of the agents and the general requirements and application procedure of getting a license vary slightly from state to state. An agent can practise only in the state in which they hold a real estate license though there are provisions such as reciprocity and mutual agreement to ease the procedure to practise in other states.
The states also have their own requirements for:
Most states have two types or levels of real estate licenses.
As the definition of a broker goes, a real estate broker can operate on behalf of another party, a buyer or seller or can supervise other brokers and real estate agents. The responsibilities of a real estate broker are mentioned on the basis of their role in the process.
Some of the duties of a real estate broker working for a property seller include:
The brokers can help in the same process but from the buyer’s side too which involves:
A licensed broker can act as a supervising or managing broker too having his/her agents handle the brokerage transactions. Some states have a different title and a higher license for this role. The supervising broker is legally responsible for the actions of his/her agents, the responsibilities include:
A real estate sales associate or real estate salesperson is a level below a broker. An associate can do most of the tasks of the broker but only do so under the management of a licensed broker. While they can negotiate and work on behalf of a broker, they have to do so on the broker’s instruction or direction and cannot be signatories in any legal documents.
In some states, being a sales associate is a requirement to become a broker. The sales associate can upgrade to become a broker too. An associate can be affiliated with a sole proprietorship, a corporation, a partnership, or a limited liability company that is licensed as a broker. The broker takes the responsibility of the associate and is liable and accountable for the associate’s work.
The duties of a real estate associate involve: