What’s the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent?

Licensing in Northern Virginia

A real estate agent in Northern Virginia is a person who is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia to be paid a commission on a real estate transaction. Real estate agents must pass a 40-hour course. Additionally, the agent is required by the Commmonwealth to pass with continuing education to stay informed about updates in real estate regulation. Real estate agents are not permitted to work independently. In other words, agents must affiliate with a real estate broker.

A real estate broker has additional requirements than a real estate agent. In addition a real estate broker must have 3 years of full-time work experience as an agent in order to qualify for the process of becoming a broker. Brokers are responsible for supervising the efforts of any agents whose licenses are affiliated with them. Because the broker has a deeper understanding of real estate laws and practices, agents often come to their broker when they have questions or need assistance.

Types of Brokers

There are three types of brokers: a managing broker, an associate broker and a principal broker. Every real estate firm in Northern Virginia has a principal broker. The principal broker is the primary licensee from which all licenses at the firm are authorized. A principal broker is uniquely responsible for the actions of every affiliated agent or broker. In addition to managing the burdens of real estate law and practices, the principal broker is responsible for the actual business practices of the brokerage.

At some point, a brokerage can grow too large for one broker to manage. In addition some brokerages have multiple offices. For this reason a principal broker may need to appoint managing brokers. A managing broker has all the education experience that a principal broker has, but the managing broker’s responsibilities are generally limited to the management of agents and offices. Most real estate agents at most chain brokerages report to a managing broker and only rarely interact with the principal broker.

At Nesbitt Realty every agent in Northern Virginia has immediate access to and direct supervision from the principal broker.

An associate broker is a broker who has fulfilled all the educational requirements to be a broker, but the associate broker does not assume a managerial position. An associate broker is affiliated with a managing or principal broker. An associate broker requires minimal supervision, the supervising broker is still responsible for the associate broker’s actions.

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