What's the Difference?: Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Realtors

When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, you may wonder what it means when someone is a real estate agent, or a broker, or a realtor. Aren’t they the same thing? Nope, but they can perform some of the same services.

Here's how they differ:

Real estate agent

This is a person who is licensed in the state where they practice, and can help you find a home and negotiate the purchase. Real estate agents can’t work on their own, and have to be under the supervision of a broker in charge.

Real estate broker

A broker is an agent who has further education and has taken additional licensure exams. A real estate broker can work alone or hire other agents to work for him or her. A broker in charge is the designated broker in any particular office who is responsible for supervising the agents.


A Realtor is a licensed agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and has pledged to adhere to its standards and code of ethics. Realtor is a designation on a national level, whereas the agent or broker designations are usually determined by the state.

Which one is right for you? Or do you need any of them at all? Only you can decide. With each designation, you’ll find a wide range of skill levels, experience, and personalities. The best person to work with is the one who makes you feel comfortable, informed and confident.

Think you need a Realtor? Learn how to find the right one.