EXCLUSIVE OFFER: List Your Home and Accumulate 0 Days on Market.
Real Estate

What's the difference between an agent, a broker, and a REALTOR®?

Written by
Lindsey Hood
January 4, 2019

The terms agent, broker, and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing. While agents, brokers, and REALTORS® are each qualified in their own right, their levels of qualification vary, especially in Texas. Let’s take a look at the differences and see what they mean for you.

Real Estate Agents

A real estate agent is anyone who has obtained their real estate license after completing a certain number of course hours and passing a state exam. To obtain a real estate license in Texas, aspiring agents must take 180 classroom hours covering a variety of real estate topics. Although the required hours can vary by state, the typical amount is somewhere between 60 and 75 course hours.

After taking the required courses, they’ll be asked to take a state exam. If they fail the exam three times, they’ll need to take additional classes to be eligible to retake the exam. Once they’ve passed the exam, badda bing badda boom, they’re a licensed real estate agent in the state of Texas!

But it doesn’t stop there. Texas real estate agents must pay license and supplemental fees upwards of $300. That’s not including course and exam fees, which can cost anywhere from $450 to $1000. On top of all that, agents are required to pay a $110 license-renewal fee every two years to maintain their license.

Real estate agents are the folks you’ll most likely be working with directly since their job is to oversee all parts of the transaction. Depending on if you’re buying or selling your home, you’ll most likely be working with a buyer’s agent or a listing agent.

Buyer’s Agent

A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who only represents home buyers in real estate transactions. When working with a buyer, it’s the agent’s job and fiduciary duty to protect the buyer's interests throughout the closing process.

Listing Agent

A listing agent is a real estate agent who only represents home sellers in real estate transactions. When you’re selling your home, a listing agent often helps you accurately price your home, recommends improvements, gets your home listed on the MLS, and markets your property until it’s sold.

No matter what type of agent you’re working with, they need to be represented under a brokerage before they can work with clients. That’s where brokers come in.


A broker is someone who has completed extended education in addition to the real estate courses required to become an agent. When brokers obtain their brokerage license, they have the ability to start their own real estate company and hire agents to work for them.

In order to become a broker, a real estate agent must meet certain qualifications before they can apply for a brokerage license. First, they must have at least four years of active experience as a licensed agent. Then, they must complete 270 hours of pre-licensing courses and an additional 630 hours in continued education. These requirements can also be satisfied with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Once they qualify and complete the required education, they have to pass a broker’s real estate exam. When they’ve completed these steps successfully, they're officially a broker!

While many brokers are still practicing real estate agents, some take on a CEO position at their real estate company–if they choose to start one–instead of conducting transactions. While brokers can hire other agents, they may choose to solely represent themselves. Remember how real estate agents need to work under a brokerage? By representing themselves, brokers can cut out the middleman and conduct transactions solo.


A REALTOR® is anyone who is part of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), meaning they receive extra benefits, such as access to helpful real estate resources. Just to name a few, these benefits include up-to-date listing data on the MLS, additional tools to obtain accurate market data, and a variety of professional development offerings.

Plus, members of NAR are held to a higher ethical standard and must abide by the NAR's Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice, which is good news for their clients! In fact, NAR members are required to complete Code of Ethics Training every two years, meaning they can be regarded as a more valuable and trustworthy real estate agent to work with.

Being a member of NAR is especially beneficial to brokerages because every agent represented by the brokerage receives automatic access to NAR benefits. Not only does this add value to the brokerage, but it also means they can do more for their clients.

When it comes to hiring a real estate specialist, there are plenty of options to choose from. While all real estate professionals are qualified, at the end of the day, you decide on the right person for the job. Whoever you choose, our Jovio agents are here to lend a helping hand if you need one.

About the Author
Lindsey Hood

Lindsey is Jovio’s marketing guru. After studying Economics and Finance at the University of Delaware, she found her true passion in marketing. When she’s not writing about real estate, she enjoys catching up on the latest Netflix series, exploring Austin, and traveling with her husband.

Get expert real estate tips and advice in your inbox.
Thank you! Keep an eye on your inbox for our latest content.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Recommended Reading