People often confuse the terms broker and agent. While they perform similar functions in the home buying and selling process, there are differences between the two. It is worthwhile to know what each entails to better understand his/her qualifications and what it means for you.

Real Estate Agents

While real estate agents encompass a broad category that includes brokers and salespersons, in practice people use the term to refer to the latter, specifically licensed salespersons. A real estate agent works for the broker and acts as his/her representative.

You need a license to become an agent. New York State imposes that someone completes a 75 hour, state-approved, qualifying education course, and then pass an exam.

There are different types of agents, such as one representing buyers, sellers, or both (dual agent). The qualifications for each are the same, however. An agent cannot hold certain titles, such as president, vice president, senior vice president, or managing director since the state does not want people to think he/she holds a corporate position.

An extra level: Real Estate Brokers

A real estate broker is responsible for supervising the real estate brokerage business. If he/she holds the license for the brokerage, this person is known as the representative broker.

A broker has to have a certain amount of experience in real estate, and New York state has an application. The experience requirement is met either through two years as a licensed real estate salesperson or three years in real estate in another capacity (for instance, buying and selling your own properties or managing real estate). The state also allows a combination of sales and another real estate function. He/she must also pass the qualifying salesperson course and test, sit for another 45 hours in an approved broker course, and then take New York State’s exam.

The picture gets a little more muddled since associate brokers have the same qualifications as other brokers, including the experience and passing the exam, but he/she does not want to strike out on his/her own and works for the representative broker. This person is called a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker. Agents might do this to gain extra knowledge, but he/she does not want the oversight responsibility that comes running the company.

Continuing education

Agents and brokers need to renew their licenses, which includes the completion of 22.5 hours of continuing education. This must consist of at least three hours relating to fair housing and discrimination, and one hour associated with the law of agency.

Should I work with the broker?

Generally, you deal with agents, which is fine. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with your broker or agent, and feel he/she is providing you with the proper expertise and level of service. The industry demands that agents meet a certain level of standards and ethics, which the broker will ensure.

At Elika Real Estate, we have a boutique real estate brokerage firm which allows a cooperative approach. Our principal broker, Gea Elika, works with clients and provide a high level of service. He also oversees five agents that have their own level of expertise.


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