There's enough titles in real estate to make your head spin. Agent, Broker, Realtor, not to mention salesperson, listing agent, selling agent, buyer's agent. So, what's the difference? Many outside the industry use all the terms interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? We'll help you make out what the titles really mean.


A broker is someone who holds a real estate broker license. Brokers may act as real estate salespeople but more often oversee multiple agents. All real estate sales, real estate offices and MLS memberships must be under the management of a broker. In an ordinary real estate brokerage, Brokers typically do more of the business of running the business than of selling real estate. Most buyers and sellers never even meet (or know about) the broker who oversaw the agent selling their home. However, Brokers have the full power to execute any activities in real estate and dealing directly with a broker saves having to pay another person in the transaction. A broker's license requires experience as an agent first, additional classes, and an additional exam.


Anyone who holds a real estate license of any kind can be called an agent and it means that they hold at least a real estate salesperson license. Someone who only holds the real esate salesperson license can only be called an agent, not a broker. Agent is the term that people use the most often because there are the most people running around using this title. An agent must be overseen by a broker. At an ordinary real estate brokerage, agents are the ones that you deal with directly. They are the ones signing listings, conducting showing, etc.


This term is often confusing because many advertisements make a distinction between Realtor and Agent, and many people use Realtor and Agent interchangeably. However, the term Realtor simply means that the agent or broker is a paid member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and as such has agreed to the Realtor Code of Ethics. There are no differences in licensing, qualifications or experience between Realtors and non-Realtor Agents. In order to use the term Realtor, an agent must simply join the National Association of Realtors and pay the dues.

Real Estate Salesperson

Real estate salesperson is just another term for agent.

Real Estate Associate Broker

A real estate associate broker is someone who has passed the broker test and earned a broker license but chooses to operate as an agent under the management of another broker.

Listing Agent

The listing agent is the real estate agent representing the seller who puts the listing into the MLS.

Selling Agent

Confusingly, in the agent world, the selling agent is the agent representing the buyer who "sells" the home to the buyer. Selling agent = buyer's agent.

Buyer's Agent

This is an agent representing a buyer in a transaction or helping them to find a home and manage the buying process.

Limited Services Brokerage

This is a brokerage (like HomeLister) that does not sell their services bundled into a commission, but rather allows clients to select how much or how little help they would like through the process.  It can often be a la carte real estate services.

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