What Is a Real Estate Broker? Definition, Types, and Duties

Real estate brokers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, which they use to guide you through every step.

What Is a Real Estate Broker? Definition, Types, and Duties
A real estate broker is a licensed professional who intermediates between buyers and sellers of properties. | Photo by Thirdman

Real estate brokers are professionals who play a vital role in the buying, selling, and leasing of properties. They act as a bridge between buyers and sellers, using their specialized knowledge and expertise to facilitate transactions and negotiate deals on behalf of their clients.

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, an experienced property investor, or simply curious about the world of real estate, understanding the role of a broker is essential to navigating the industry.

In this article we explore the definition, types, duties, and responsibilities of a real estate broker, along with several other things. By the end of this article you will have a comprehensive understanding of what a real estate broker is, what they do, and how they can help you achieve your real estate goals.

The Definition: Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is a licensed professional who acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers of properties. A broker assists in the buying, selling, leasing, and managing of real estate and uses specialized knowledge and expertise to facilitate transactions and negotiate deals on behalf of his or her clients.

Get a Quote

The term broker refers to an individual who has obtained a real estate broker's license, which is a higher level of licensure than that of a real estate salesperson. To become a licensed real estate broker, an individual must typically have several years of experience working as a salesperson and meet additional education and training requirements.

Real Estate Broker vs. Real Estate Agent

While the terms real estate broker and real estate agent are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two distinct roles in the real estate industry.

A real estate agent is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. Agents work under the supervision of a licensed broker and are typically responsible for such tasks as marketing properties, showing homes to buyers, and assisting with negotiations.

On the other hand, a real estate broker is licensed to operate a brokerage and oversees the work of real estate agents. Brokers are responsible for ensuring that their agents comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and they also provide guidance and support on complex transactions.

Key differences between real estate brokers and agents.

One key difference between brokers and agents is the level of education and experience required to obtain their license. In most states, becoming a licensed real estate agent entails completing a certain number of hours of coursework and passing an exam. Becoming a licensed real estate broker, however, typically requires additional education and experience, as well as passing a more rigorous licensing exam.

Another difference is in the level of authority and responsibility. Real estate brokers have a higher level of responsibility for their agents and the transactions they handle and are held accountable for any mistakes or misconduct. They are also typically responsible for maintaining compliance with local laws and regulations, as well as ensuring that their agents have access to the necessary resources and support to succeed.

In terms of compensation, real estate agents typically earn a commission on the sale of a property, which is split with the broker they work under. Conversely, brokers may earn a percentage of their agents' commissions in addition to any commissions they earn from their own transactions.

Types of Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers are categorized into three main tiers based on their roles and responsibilities.

Principal broker.

The first tier is the principal real estate broker, who serves as the overseer for a brokerage's agents and other brokers. Principal brokers supervise their team and ensure that they are complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout the transaction process. The principal broker is typically the designated broker for the brokerage, and they sign off on every transaction that the company performs.

Managing broker.

The second tier is the managing broker, who is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a brokerage. This includes hiring and training agents and staff, as well as operating independently as a broker or agent. Managing brokers play a crucial role in maintaining the success of the brokerage, as they keep the team running efficiently and effectively.

Associate broker.

The third tier is the associate broker, who holds a broker's license but chooses to work under another broker or brokerage. Associates do not work independently and do not oversee other agents. Instead, they operate under the supervision of a principal or managing broker. Associate brokers typically work on transactions and share in the commission with the supervising broker.

It's important to note that each state has its own set of requirements for becoming a real estate broker and obtaining a broker's license. Some states may have additional tiers of brokers or different titles for the roles described above.

Duties of a Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers have a variety of duties and responsibilities that are essential to the buying, selling, leasing, and managing of real estate properties. Here are some of the key duties of a real estate broker.

Market the properties.

One of the primary duties of a real estate broker is to market properties on behalf of clients. This entails creating marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, and online listings, as well as using their network and connections to reach potential buyers or tenants.

Evaluate the market conditions.

Real estate brokers must have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, including current trends, property values, and competition. They use this knowledge to advise their clients on pricing strategies, offer guidance on when to buy or sell, and identify opportunities to maximize returns.

Advise clients on buying or selling decisions.

Brokers act as trusted advisors to their clients, offering guidance and advice on the best course of action for their real estate goals. They provide insights into market trends, recommend properties that fit clients' needs and budget, and advise on financing and legal issues related to real estate transactions.

Negotiate contracts.

Negotiation is a key skill that every real estate broker needs to have. Using negotiation skills, real estate brokers help their clients secure the best possible terms on their transactions. They negotiate contracts on behalf of their clients, handling issues such as price, closing dates, contingencies, and repairs.

Coordinate the closing.

Another role of real estate brokers is to coordinate the closing, a process that includes working with attorneys, title companies, lenders, and other parties to enable a smooth and timely closing. Real estate brokers have a duty to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order and that all parties are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

Manage properties.

In addition to buying and selling properties, real estate brokers may also manage properties on behalf of their clients. They might perform tasks such as rent collection, maintenance, and tenant relations, as well as guaranteeing compliance with local laws and regulations.

Maintain licensure and education.

Last but not least, real estate brokers are required to maintain their licensure by completing continuing education courses and staying up-to-date on changes in real estate laws and regulations. This allows them to provide their clients with the most current and accurate information and advice.

Benefits of Working With a Real Estate Broker

Working with a real estate broker comes with several advantages. Some of these advantages are described here.

Expertise and experience.

Real estate brokers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, which they use to guide you through every step of buying or selling real estate. Since they are well-versed in market trends, property values, and local regulations, they can provide valuable insights and advice to help you make informed decisions.

Access to listings.

Brokers have access to a wide range of property listings, including publicly listed ones and those that are off-market or exclusive. Thus, they can help you find properties that meet your specific criteria, even if they are not listed on popular real estate websites.

Professional network.

Another major advantage of working with real estate brokers is that they move in circles of industry professionals, including other brokers, agents, attorneys, and lenders. This can be especially valuable when it comes to negotiating deals, navigating legal issues, and securing financing for your transaction.

Time and convenience.

Buying or selling a property can be time-consuming and complex, especially if you are not familiar with the industry. A broker can help streamline the process and save you time and effort by handling tasks such as property searches, scheduling showings, and coordinating with other parties involved in the transaction.

Real estate transactions involve a great deal of legal paperwork and regulations, and mistakes can be costly. Brokers have a thorough understanding of the legal requirements involved in buying or selling a property and will watch that all contracts and agreements are properly executed and in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Real Estate Broker Final Thoughts

Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced investor, working with a real estate broker can help you navigate the complex process of buying or selling a property with confidence and ease. By leveraging their knowledge, experience, and networks, you can access a wide range of properties and resources that you might not have access to on your own, and benefit from expert guidance and advice throughout the transaction.

Get a Quote