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Whether you’re buying or selling a home, a real estate transaction is one of the most complicated deals most of us will ever undertake. Unfortunately, it’s not a skill you can easily practice, so it’s essential to have someone by your side who knows the ins and outs of this business. That’s where a real estate agent comes in.

A good real estate professional will ensure that the entire process runs smoothly and that you’ll come out of the deal with everything you wanted and more. However, finding an agent can be tricky. There are often many to choose from, with some being better qualified for your unique situation.

Fortunately, with the right approach, you can find the right real estate agent for you. Here’s how:

What Is a Real Estate Agent?

Essentially, a real estate agent’s job is to represent either a buyer, seller, landlord or renter throughout the process of purchasing, selling or renting property. In both the U.S. and Canada, they must be licensed and qualified by completing the required education and passing the necessary exams.

Quick tip: Avoid anyone who claims to be a real estate professional but can’t provide proof that they’re licensed or qualified.

Not all real estate agents are the same, though. Many choose to specialize in certain areas, such as rentals, sales or purchases. On top of that, you’ll find different types of real estate agents:

Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent

As you search for a real estate professional, you’ll often come across two major terms, realtor and real estate agent. These terms are frequently used interchangeably but are actually quite different.

In a nutshell, a real estate agent has completed all the required training and passed the relevant exams to qualify as a licensed estate agent. A real estate agent must work for a broker and cannot operate independently. Having said that, they’re often free to set their own schedule, with many working part-time or as a side hustle.

Meanwhile, a Realtor® is an agent or broker that has joined a recognized realtor association. In the U.S., they’ll be a member of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), or in Canada, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Both associations require their members to follow a strict code of conduct and ethics. In addition, realtors will generally undergo continuous training to learn new skills and keep up to date with the latest real estate practices.

Real Estate Broker vs. Agent

The third term you might’ve come across is “real estate broker.” A broker is typically the owner or manager of a larger real estate company and will have undergone advanced training to gain a more comprehensive license. They’re often responsible for a team of estate agents, and it’s down to them to ensure their agents comply with the local real estate laws and regulations.

With more experience and higher qualifications, brokers are also the only real estate professionals able to work independently.

What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

 

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