If you're ready to buy a home, you'll want to get some representation in the form of a real estate professional.
But who should you call? A Realtor? An agent? A broker? What's the difference between them? Are they all different titles for the same thing?
When people talk about real estate professionals, they may use different titles interchangeably. Yet while they're all very similar and closely related, they each have their own distinction that buyers and sellers might want to understand before they choose one over the other.
Let's break it down.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are also referred to as real estate "salespersons," which is simply a different name for the same thing. Agents must work with a brokerage in real estate in order to practice their profession. All deals must go through the brokerage that the agents work for.
Real estate agents represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions and have a fiduciary duty to look out for the best interests of the clients they represent while still treating all other parties in the transaction fairly and honestly.
In order to become a real estate agent or salesperson, an individual must take certain courses and pass the associated exams to obtain a license to practice real estate in Ontario. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is the entity that oversees the training and licensure of agents in Ontario.
Agents can then focus on residential, commercial, or industrial real estate as they so choose.
After passing their initial courses and exams to obtain their license, agents must complete other courses within two years to maintain their license and keep it up-to-date.
Real Estate Brokers
A real estate broker is a professional who manages or owns a brokerage and is responsible for supervising all agents within the brokerage and overseeing all deals that come through.
Before achieving this title, brokers must work as licensed agents for at least two years first. They must then complete additional training on top of the educational courses taken to become an agent.
Brokers can work independently without having to be tied to another brokerage as they themselves are brokers. They may also have the freedom to choose to be a part of a real estate agency.
Real estate brokers are the ones who pay out real estate commissions to their agents and sign listing agreements with sellers. They're also tasked with making sure that all transactions are completed accurately and are free of any errors.
Realtors are agents who are also members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). In order to maintain their status, Realtors must pay an annual membership fee and complete ethics training on a continuing basis.
They must also promise to uphold the entity's Code of Ethics, a program that makes sure that all members maintain a certain standard when practicing real estate.
As such, buyers and sellers who work with Realtors can expect that the professional representing them will be fair and honest, and will display a level of integrity throughout their service.
Realtors who meet specific training and membership dues can legally use the registered REALTOR® trademark on any materials they use to market their services.
There are certainly some definite distinctions between Realtors, agents, and brokers in the world of real estate. But while there may be certain subtle differences, they can all represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. Further, all three of these professionals will maintain a high standard when working with their clients, so buyers and sellers can rest assured knowing that they're in good hands.