the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor

As a top-producing discount real estate broker in Utah for nearly two decades, I know one question is inevitable. What are the differences between a real estate agent, Realtor, and broker? Understanding these distinctions is crucial whether you're looking to buy, sell, or rent a property. This blog post will unveil the key differences between these real estate professionals, focusing on the "real estate agent vs realtor" debate, their roles, and client benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents, Realtors, and brokers are licensed professionals with varying experience and expertise.

  • Clients may benefit from the additional resources available to Realtors through their membership in the NAR, while brokers offer an even higher level of service.

  • Commission structure for real estate professionals typically involves a 6% commission fee based on brokerage policy, location, value, and negotiation skills. I recommend using a discount broker like myself.

Understanding Real Estate Agents

In the real estate industry, the term "real estate agent" is frequently swapped with "Realtor." Yet, one must understand that real estate agents are licensed professionals who aid clients in purchasing, selling, and leasing properties. They must meet state prerequisites and maintain fiduciary standards.

On one side, a Realtor is a licensed real estate agent. They are an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and conduct business in real estate. We will examine real estate agents' licensing requirements and responsibilities in greater detail.

Agent Licensing and Education

Utah real estate licensing education

To become a real estate agent in Utah, one must complete the following steps:

  1. Obtain a valid real estate license by completing pre-licensing courses.

  2. Pass a state licensing exam.

  3. Meet licensing requirements, which differ from state to state. This includes completing 120 hours of coursework in Utah and passing the licensing exam with a state-approved testing vendor.

  4. Renew licenses every one to two years, depending on the state.

  5. Complete 18 hours of continuing education (CE) courses every two years.

The pre-licensing courses cover a variety of topics, such as:

  • Real estate principles

  • Practice

  • Legal aspects

  • Ethics

  • Agency

  • Financing

  • Property management

This education equips agents with the necessary knowledge to guide clients through real estate transactions smoothly and professionally in the real estate business.

Responsibilities and Tasks

Real estate agents represent buyers, sellers, or both (limited agency). Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Client representation

  • Overseeing property transactions

  • Prioritizing their clients' best interests

  • Acting as intermediaries, assisting clients in navigating the complex world of real estate

  • Maintaining a harmonious atmosphere during negotiations.

Agents may specialize in representing buyers or sellers, often referred to as a buyer's agent or listing agent, respectively. A buyer's agent focuses on the buyer's needs, while the listing agent represents the seller. Dual or limited agency, where an agent represents the buyer and seller in the same transaction, is generally avoided due to potential conflicts of interest.

Unraveling the Realtor Role

Realtors are real estate agents or brokers that hold membership in the National Association of Realtors (NARand adhere to a higher standard of ethics and professionalism. The term "Realtor" was created by the NAR in 1916 and officially trademarked in 1950 to differentiate members from non-members.

We will examine the specific details of NAR membership and the advantages Realtors provide to their clients.

NAR Membership and Code of Ethics

NAR Realtor Membership Utah

To become a Realtor, real estate professionals must:

  • Join their local chapter of the NAR

  • Pay annual dues

  • Complete an online course on the Code of Ethics

  • Maintain the NAR's higher standards of practice throughout their career

The Code of Ethics 17 Articles and supporting Standards of Practice distinguish Realtors from non-member real estate agents.

NAR membership provides Realtors access to exclusive resources, training, and a network of other professionals, ensuring they have the tools and support necessary to deliver exceptional service to their clients. Realtors are held to a higher standard of ethical conduct, which includes competency, fairness, and integrity in their dealings with all parties involved in a real estate transaction.

Benefits for Clients

Clients working with a Realtor can reap many benefits. Realtors, with their commitment to ethical practices, added training, and access to resources from reputable organizations, can offer enhanced support and guidance in property transactions. They receive:

  • Ongoing education

  • Specialized expertise

  • Certifications in specific fields

  • Access to real estate agent training tools

These resources help them stay informed about industry trends and better serve their clients.

Moreover, the Realtor Code of Ethics ensures that clients can trust their Realtor to act ethically and protect their interests. Realtors also have access to exclusive resources, such as the Realtor Content Resource and First-time Homebuyer Resources, which can greatly benefit their clients.

Real Estate Broker: A Step Further

Real estate brokers in Utah take it further, possessing additional education and licensing to manage their brokerage or work with agents and Realtors. Brokers bring more experience and knowledge, ensuring clients have access to the highest level of expertise in their property transactions.

We will examine the licensing prerequisites and managerial duties of brokers.

Utah Broker Licensing and Management

Utah real estate broker licensing requirements

To become a Utah real estate broker, professionals must meet higher licensing requirements, including:

  • At least three years of full-time licensed salesperson experience within the last five or two years of unlicensed equivalent experience.

  • Accumulate sixty real estate transaction points. Single-family homes equal 2.5 points, while duplex, triplex, and fourplex are 5 points, and commercial property sales count for 10 points.

  • Completion of the required 120-hour real estate broker licensing course.

  • Passing the real estate licensing broker exam.

Principal brokers are responsible for:

  • Managing real estate firms and their agents

  • Ensuring that agents adhere to real estate law

  • Maintaining compliance in operations

  • Overseeing the day-to-day activities of the firm

Brokers also provide pivotal guidance and support to their agents, assisting them through the complexities of the real estate market and ensuring successful transactions.

Working with Brokers vs Agents and Realtors

When working with a Utah broker, agent, or Realtor, consider the advantages and disadvantages carefully. Brokers typically have more experience, access to a more extensive network of resources, and superior negotiation skills, which can lead to better client outcomes. However, brokers may charge higher fees or commissions due to their independent status and lack of affiliation with an agency.

Additionally, brokers may offer less availability and personal attention than agents or Realtors who work directly with clients. Ultimately, the choice between working with a broker, agent, or Realtor will depend on your specific goals, needs, and preferences.

Commission Structure: How They Get Paid

agent versus realtor commissions Utah

Real estate professionals earn money through commissions, depending on their role and the specific transaction. The commission rate for real estate agents and Realtors is typically 6% of the sale price.

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We will examine the typical commission structures for agents and brokers in more detail.

Agent Commissions

Agent commissions are generally estimated to be between 5-6% of the purchase price, then divided among the agents and firms involved in the transaction. The commission is usually paid by the seller of the property and is calculated as a percentage of the property's gross sales price.

Factors that can influence the commission rate of a real estate agent include:

  • The location of the property

  • The agent's negotiation skills

  • Market conditions

  • The value of the property

  • Competition among agents

  • The services provided by the agent

  • The brokerage policy

Utah Real Estate Agent Earnings

Utah real estate agent income

Brokers earn money by taking a share of agent commissions and from their deals, with earnings varying based on their level of involvement. According to figures from 2022, the average gross income of REALTORS® and full-time agents was slightly over $78,000.

Brokers obtain income from their deals by receiving a portion of the commission earned from the sale. They may also earn supplemental income by sponsoring and receiving a portion of the commissions from the deals handled by the agents they supervise.

Choosing the Right Professional for Your Needs

Choosing the appropriate real estate professional entails careful analysis of your specific objectives, requirements, and preferences. By assessing your goals and evaluating the experience and expertise of potential real estate professionals, you can ensure that you select the best possible professional to assist you in your property transactions.

Assessing Your Goals

Your real estate goals can significantly impact your selection of a real estate professional. Suppose you have particular objectives, such as investing in a property or locating a home in a specific area. In that case, you may wish to pick a real estate professional who has expertise and experience in those areas.

Furthermore, suppose you have a timeline or specific requirements for your real estate transaction, such as selling your current home before buying a new one. In that case, you may want to choose a real estate professional with the resources and connections to assist you in achieving those goals.

Evaluating Experience and Expertise

Assessing the experience and expertise of potential real estate professionals is necessary to ascertain their capacity to deliver the highest quality service. Consider factors such as:

  • Years in the business

  • List price to sales price percentage

  • Marketing skills

  • Trust and reputation

  • Percentage of listings sold

  • Ask for past client referrals

  • Read the agent's reviews on Google, Zillow, or

When assessing the experience of many real estate agents, it's essential to consider the expertise of each real estate professional, including other real estate agents, within a real estate office.

Additionally, gauge the expertise of a real estate professional through:

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Sales volume and revenue

  • Conversion rate and lead generation

  • Professional development and learning


In conclusion, understanding the key differences between Utah real estate agents, Realtors, and brokers is essential in making an informed decision when selecting a real estate professional. By carefully assessing your goals, evaluating the experience and expertise of potential professionals, and considering the commission structure, you can confidently choose the right professional to help you successfully navigate the complex world of real estate transactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Realtor frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a realtor and a Realtist?

A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, a Realtist is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). Realtists and Realtors represent a variety of occupations in the real estate profession. Individuals may also be both a Realtor and Realtist.

Are commissions the same for all real estate professionals?

Utah real estate brokers and real estate agent commissions are negotiable. The Commission amounts for real estate professionals differ based on their role and the particulars of each transaction. Agents typically receive 5-6% of the purchase price, while brokers earn a portion of the agent commission from their deals.

Who Pays The Agent Commissions in Utah?

At the time of this blog post, the home seller pays the listing agent and the buyer's agent commissions (BAC). However, the commission percentage agents earn and who pays the commission will likely change due to technology and national lawsuits against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and major brokerages for allegedly conspiring to keep commissions high.

I agree commissions have been too high for too long, which is why I have been a discount real estate broker in Utah for nearly twenty years.

What is the difference between an Associate Broker and a Managing Broker in Utah?

Both licenses are the same. The only difference between an associate broker in Utah and a managing broker is the position at the brokerage firm. As the name implies, a managing broker, the principal broker, manages a brokerage and is responsible for all the seller's agents and buyer's agents who work for the brokerage.

An associate broker chooses to work for another licensed real estate broker instead of managing a brokerage or opening their brokerage.

What are the licensing requirements for real estate brokers in Utah?

To become a real estate broker in Utah, you must be a full-time real estate agent for three of the past five years, accumulate sixty sales points (single-family homes equal 2.5 points), take an additional 120 hours of broker course, and pass the state exam.

How can I evaluate the experience and expertise of a real estate professional?

To evaluate a real estate professional's experience, look at their years in the business, track record, marketing skills, trust and reputation, the percentage of listings sold, and Google reviews.

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