What is a real estate agent?

Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Brokerages

Each state in the U.S. has varying requirements for obtaining a real estate license. Generally, an applicant must complete a specific amount of coursework and pass a state licensing exam. For the license to be active, an agent must be actively employed by real estate broker or brokerage.

Real estate agents work in many different areas of the industry, from apartment leasing to commercial properties and time-share sales. The majority are involved with buying and selling residential homes. They may represent a variety of clients, from home buyers, to home sellers, to individual property investors, to institutional investors and trusts.

Real estate agents may elect to join the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), which is the official trade association for real estate agents and brokers. NAR offers continuing education to member agents, along with training and professional designations for various specialties.

Real estate brokers have a higher level of licensing, typically obtained after a completing additional coursework and accomplishing a few years of experience as a real estate agent. There is a separate state exam for real estate brokers. Once properly licensed, a broker may hire and manage agents or other brokers as part of their business or become an associate broker under another broker.

A real estate brokerage is a company, or agency, operated by an owner-broker or managing broker who is responsible for the conduct and transactions of the agents and brokers in his or her employ. A brokerage can be a small business with a single broker, or a national company with thousands of real estate agents.

Unlike typical agency structure, an Exclusive Buyer Agency or Exclusive Buyer Brokerage only serves home buyers and does not accept listings or market properties. Exclusive Buyer Agents are certified by the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA). The NAEBA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are designed with the protection of buyer-clients in mind.

Learn more about NAEBA or about Exclusive Buyer Agents!