Understanding The Various Real Estate Salesperson Designations

Posted on: 25 September 2018

If you plan to buy or sell a home soon but are confused about all of the different classifications of real estate salespeople, then you are not alone. 

Knowing these designations is important because you will see them on home listings, business cards, and people will use them when doing introductions. For example, when you choose a licensed real estate broker to sell your home, then properly introducing them requires you say they are a "broker" rather than an "agent."

To end your confusion on this topic, below is some information about each salesperson classification:

Real Estate Agents

The most plentiful real estate salespeople in the market are agents. Real estate agents are licensed professionals who have taken a few college-level courses and have passed a licensing exam. In many states, real estate agents must work for a real estate broker who supervises their transactions, and they are not permitted to be self-employed.

Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers, on the other hand, are one pay grade above a real estate agent. Brokers have more formal education about real estate transactions and laws and have taken a more complex exam for their license.

Brokers are similar to police sergeants, who are still police officers but have had more education and training than beat cops and traffic officers.


In addition to real estate agents and brokers, you will also see the designation "realtor" on some listings and business cards. Realtors are agents and brokers who belong to the National Association of Realtors. Many salespeople join this organization because it requires members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and elevates their trustworthiness in the marketplace. 

Buyer's Agents, Seller's Agents, and Dual Agents

It's important to note that all real estate agents, brokers, and realtors can act as a buyer's or a seller's agent. When representing a buyer or seller, they are legally responsible for working on their client's behalf and keep their client's best interests at heart regardless of their license or membership status.

Real Estate Broker's Assistants

Finally, no explanation about real estate salespeople would be complete without mentioning the broker's assistants. Real estate broker's assistants are typically licensed real estate brokers who choose to partner up and work with other licensed brokers who have more experience. They do this to gain valuable knowledge and experience to one day go out and open their own agencies and mentor other junior brokers.