The difference between salespersons and brokers
In the past, when brokers (and their agents) only represented sellers, the
term ''real estate salesperson'' may have been more appropriate than it
today, given the different ways that brokers and their agents can help a
buyer through the process rather than simply "sell'' him or her a property.
Legally however, the term 'salesperson' is still used in many states to
describe a real estate agent.
*Real estate education*: In order to become licensed, most states require
that an applicant take a minimum number of classes before taking the state
licensing exam. Such education is often provided by real estate brokerages
as a means to finding new agents.
Today in many states, the real estate agent (acting as an agent of the
broker with whom he/she is employed) is required to disclose to prospective
buyers and sellers who represents whom. See below for a broker/agent's
relationship to sellers and their relationship to buyers.
While some people may refer to any licensed real estate agent as a real
estate broker, a licensed *real estate agent* is a professional who has
obtained either a *real estate salesperson'*s license or a real estate
In the United States, there are commonly two levels of real estate
professionals licensed by the individual states, but not by the federal
*Real estate salesperson* (or, in some states, *Real estate broker*):
When a person first becomes licensed to become a real estate agent, he/she
obtains a real estate salesperson's license (or some states use the
alternative term, "broker") from the state in which he/she will practice. To
obtain a real estate license, the candidate must take specific coursework
(of between 40 and 90 hours) and then pass a state exam on real estate law
and practice. In order to work, salespersons must then be associated with
(and act under the authority of) a real estate broker.
Many states also have reciprocal agreements with other states, allowing a
licensed individual from a qualified state to take the second state's exam
without completing the course requirements, or, in some cases, take only a
state law exam.
*Real estate broker* (or, in some states, *Qualifying Broker*):
After gaining some years of experience in real estate sales, a salesperson
may decide to become licensed as a real estate broker (or
Principal/Qualifying broker) in order to own, manage or operate his/her own
brokerage. Commonly more course work and a broker's state exam on real
estate law must be passed. Upon obtaining a broker's license, a real estate
agent may continue to work for another broker in a similar capacity as
before (often referred to as a *broker associate* or *associate broker*) or
take charge of his/her own brokerage and hire other salespersons (or broker)
licensees. Becoming a branch office manager may or may not require a
broker's license. Some states such as New York allow licensed attorneys to
become real estate brokers without taking any exam. In states, such as
Colorado, there are no "salespeople", as all licensees are Brokers.