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Q. What is the difference between a realtor and a broker?

A realtor is a real estate licensee who is at least 18 years old, has a high-school diploma, completed at least three college-level real estate courses and passed the State of California real estate salesperson licensing exam.  To be a Broker, one has to have worked full-time (or equivalent) as a licensed salesperson a minimum of two years out of the last five years, has taken at least a total of 8 courses out of a list of more than 10 specified by the Department of Real Estate, and passes a more lengthy licensing exam for brokers.  After passing the exam, they have to file an application for a Broker license by submitting to criminal background checks and fingerprinting.  


Q. What is the difference between a broker associate and a broker?

A broker associate is a broker who prefers to avoid the hassles and headaches of running a brokerage firm, hiring and firing staff and doing payrolls. When a broker goes to work for another broker or brokerage firm, that employed broker is called a broker (sales) associate.  Such individuals are required to either pay a desk fee to the company or to split a portion of their commission with the broker for the company.  The nature of the commission split is negotiable and varies with the competency and experience of the broker associate.

Q. How to work with a REALTOR ® or Broker?

A good and experienced REALTOR® protects his/her time and will request that the prospective buyer signs a Buyer Representation Agreement before showing homes.  He/she will conduct an interview to determine the buyer’s needs, wants, and price range.  This helps the REALTOR® to arrange their priorities in assisting buyers.  It is important to understand that the buyer is signing a contract to employ the REALTOR® to help find a home, to maintain confidentiality, to protect the buyer's best interest, and to write up the offer to purchase when instructed.  Be honest in sharing your wants, needs, and timeline.  Do not leave the REALTOR® guessing as to what your plans or intentions are.  The relationship between a realtor and a buyer is premised foremost on trust.  If you cannot trust the realtor with your true intentions and plans, then you should find another professional to work with.