Difference between Real Estate Agents, Realtors and Brokers

In real estate business, just like any other specialty field, there are some jargon that are used to describe different terms and are useful in helping to facilitate communication. Words like Agents, Realtors and Brokers are most commonly heard in the real estate realm and are usually used interchangeably. Thus anyone will assume these words mean exact same thing but they are actually words with different meaning. In this article, we will look in depth at the difference between agents, realtors and brokers and understand the level of professionalism each embodies.

Who is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a professional who is in the business of helping property owners and interested individuals in the buying and selling of properties, and having a befitting real estate license attached to their business. Real estate agents can choose to focus on specialty areas like being a listing agent, buyer’s agent, or a rental agent and can also choose to focus on unique property types for instance, an agent can choose to work with residential property or commercial properties and be really good and successful to those narrowed areas. There are also agents that would rather go all in to be the “Jack of all the trades”, working with all property types, and representing as listing, buyers and rental agent for obvious reasons – increase in opportunity and to make more money.

Listing agents are the agents that work with the sellers to list a home, buyers agents help prospective property owners to search and secure properties and the rental agents work with potential tenants to secure a rental property in any preferred region.

How to become a real estate agent

  1. Enroll for training
    Real estate training can be offered by institutions and real estate agencies online or in physical presence.  Training provides the necessary skills that will help improve communication skills and building a strong network of brokers, sellers, buyers, and real estate companies. These training may also provide an opportunity to get recruited by the real estate agencies offering the training.
  2. Secure a real estate practice license
    This is mostly import in providing an edge over many other unlicensed real estate agents in the industry. Licensed agents have better opportunity to work with cooperate firms and governments agencies over the unlicensed agents that makes up a larger portion of the industry.
  3. Having an office
    This is particularly essential to gain trust and maintain loyal clients, improve the aura of professionalism and become easy to locate at any point in time.
  4. Working with other real estate professionals
    Working with other professional real estate agents will help in growth and advancements in the overall experience on how the real estate business works.
  5. Continue education and renewing certificates
    A real estate agents will always attend seminars, webinars and workshops to continually grow in the field and also renew their license to prove their continually relevance in the real estate business.

Who are Realtors?

A Realtor is a real estate agent who is an active member of real estate association. Just like we have the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the US, there is the Nigerian institution of estate surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) in Nigeria. NIESV was founded in 1969, by some qualified General Practice Chartered Surveyors who were mostly trained in the United Kingdom. The Institution was recognized by the Federal government of Nigeria by the enactment of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers (Registration Act)” Decree No. 24 of 1975. Joining the body confer a high reputation to any real estate agent and officially makes them a Realtor and thus may attract more clients or organized institutes. Realtors are required to adhere to an extensive Code of Ethics and are believed to be more accountable in all their dealings.

A realtor differs from a real estate agent in that while the later may have a valid license to help people buy and sell properties, the Realtor embodies all of those plus being an active and paying members of the NIESV


broker is a real estate professional who acquires additional education to pass a special broker’s licensing exam. Real estate brokers manage real estate firms and their agents, ensuring legal compliance, and reviewing contracts. To become a broker, a real estate agent is expected to have been practicing for many years prior to taking the broker’s exam. The added knowledge acquired by a broker usually covers the following areas: legal issues, operating brokerages, investments, construction and property management. 


In summary, real estate agents are lower down the ranks with at least the license to operate as a property agent; Realtors are the intermediate ranking, limited to being, in addition to the license, members of real estate association with professional certifications. Brokers are in the highest rank, having much broader knowledge and certification and thus embodying more roles and responsibilities over realtors.