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Edited by: Kimberlee Leonard
 and Reviewed: Kimberlee Leonard

Real Estate Agent vs. Broker: What Is the Difference?

Author: | Aug 17, 2023

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Go Sifter Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

If you’re exploring the world of real estate, you’ve likely come across the terms “real estate agent” and “real estate broker.” While they may sound similar, these two roles have distinct differences. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the nuances of real estate agent vs. broker and explore their responsibilities, salary comparisons, benefits, and more. So, let’s get started and unravel the difference between an agent and a real estate broker.

Real Estate Agent

Let’s begin by understanding what a real estate agent is all about. A real estate agent is a licensed professional representing buyers or sellers in real estate transactions. Moreover, they serve as the intermediary between clients and help facilitate the buying, selling, or renting properties. Agents typically work under the supervision of a real estate broker, operating within a brokerage firm.

Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents have a diverse range of responsibilities. They actively engage with clients, guiding them through the entire process of property transactions. Some key responsibilities of include:

  1. Assisting clients in finding suitable properties based on their requirements, preferences, and budget.
  2. Conducting market research to provide clients with accurate property valuations and competitive analysis.
  3. Listing properties on various platforms to attract potential buyers or renters.
  4. Facilitating property showings and open houses, allowing clients to explore and experience properties firsthand.
  5. Negotiating offers and counteroffers on behalf of their clients to ensure favorable outcomes.
  6. Providing guidance and support during closing, coordinating with attorneys, lenders, and other professionals.

Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is a higher-level professional with additional experience and education beyond an agent’s. Brokers can work independently or hire real estate agents to work under them. They are more responsible and authorized to oversee and manage real estate transactions.

Responsibilities of a Real Estate Broker

In addition to performing many of the tasks carried out by agents, brokers also have additional obligations, including:

  1. Operating their brokerage firm or working as the principal broker within a brokerage.
  2. Managing real estate agents and supervising their activities.
  3. Ensuring compliance with real estate laws and regulations.
  4. Overseeing the financial aspects of transactions, including handling escrow accounts.
  5. Conducting property appraisals and providing expert advice to clients.

Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

Now that we have a clear understanding of the roles of agents and brokers, let’s compare them directly. The main differences between a real estate agent and a real estate broker are:

  1. Education and Licensing: Both agents and brokers must complete real estate education and obtain a license. However, brokers must complete additional coursework and pass a more advanced exam to become licensed brokers.
  2. Supervision and Independence: Real estate agents typically work under the supervision of a broker, whereas brokers have the freedom to operate independently or establish their brokerage firm.
  3. Responsibilities and Authority: Agents focus on client representation and transaction facilitation. Brokers, on the other hand, not only handle transactions but also oversee agents, manage the financial aspects of deals, and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Salary Comparison: Real Estate Broker vs. Agent

Regarding real estate broker salary vs. agent, it’s important to note that agents and brokers can earn a substantial income. However, brokers generally have the potential to earn more due to their increased responsibilities and the commission they receive from their agents’ transactions. Agents typically earn a commission based on a percentage of the property’s sale or rental price. In May 2021, real estate brokers earned a median annual wage of $62,010, while real estate sales agents earned a median annual wage of $48,340.

Benefits of Being a Real Estate Broker vs. Agent

While being a real estate agent comes with its advantages, there are unique benefits to becoming a real estate broker. Here are a few advantages of being a real estate broker:

  1. Increased Earning Potential: Brokers often have a higher earning potential than agents. Since brokers receive a percentage of the commissions generated by their agents, they can leverage their team’s performance to boost their income.
  2. Independence and Flexibility: Real estate brokers can operate their brokerage firms or work independently. This independence allows them to set their business strategies and work schedules and build their brand within the industry.
  3. Greater Control and Leadership Opportunities: As a broker, you can shape and lead a team of real estate agents. This allows you to mentor and guide others, share your expertise, and create a successful brokerage with a strong reputation.
  4. Expanded Professional Network: Brokers often have a wider network of contacts within the real estate industry. This network can include other brokers, industry professionals, potential clients, and investors. Building and nurturing these relationships can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.
  5. Diversification of Services: Brokers can offer a broader range of services beyond traditional residential sales. They can specialize in commercial real estate, property management, development, or other industry niche areas. This diversification allows brokers to tap into different revenue streams and expand their expertise.

What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Broker?

Apart from the distinction between real estate agents and brokers, you might have come across the term “realtor.” Agents and brokers are licensed professionals, but a realtor is an agent or broker who holds membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This distinction signifies that realtors adhere to the NAR’s code of ethics and professional standards. Realtors adhere to a stringent code of ethics and uphold high professional standards.

It’s worth noting that while all realtors are agents or brokers, not all agents or brokers are realtors. The term “realtor” is a registered trademark of the NAR, representing a dedication to ethical practices within the real estate field.


The difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker lies in their level of education, licensing, responsibilities, and authority. Agents focus on client representation and transaction facilitation, while brokers have additional responsibilities, including overseeing agents and managing real estate transactions. While agents play a crucial role in the industry, brokers have the potential for higher earnings, greater independence, and the opportunity to lead and mentor a team of agents. You can check out more articles on Sifter’s legal category section to stay updated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a broker better than an agent?

A broker has advanced education, more responsibilities, and higher earning potential than an agent. They can operate independently and oversee agents, providing greater expertise and leadership.

Is it better to hire a broker or agent?
What is the difference between an agent and a broker?
How much do the highest-paid real estate brokers make?
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