REALTOR, Agent, Broker – What’s the difference?

Portland Realtor

Confused by titles: real estate agent, Broker, Principle Broker? Not sure who to hire? If you’re new to the Portland real estate market, don’t worry – it’s not as confusing as it seems.

Broker vs. Real Estate Agent
All real estate agents are Brokers in Oregon. There is only once license in Oregon for real estate agents (those helping clients buy and sell real estate) and that is Broker. Real estate agents still use this term because it is national common vernacular – people understand the term real estate agent quicker and more frequently than that term Broker. Broker is the official term, the license title, of all the real estate agents in Oregon.

REALTOR® vs. Broker
What’s the difference? To become a Broker in the state of Oregon, applicants complete 150+ hours of training, which covers everything from real estate law and finance to property management and negotiation skills. Once licensed they must also keep up with continuing education. Only Brokers can then become REALTORS. The vast majority of Brokers in Oregon are REALTORS.

A REALTOR® is anyone who’s a member of the National Association of Realtors, the trade association that governs real estate agent education and employs the branded, all-caps title for its members.
That title is important because it separates the professionals from the rest of the herd, requiring members to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.
In Portland, Brokers who are REALTORS® are a part of either the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors (PMAR) or the East Metro Association of Realtors (EMAR), which by default makes them part of both the Oregon Association of Realtors and the overarching National Association of Realtors. There are roughly 7,000 REALTORS® in the Portland area at last count — Brokers and Principal Brokers. The NAR or National Association of REALTORS works hard to promote home-ownership across the country and provides education and support to all its members.

Broker vs. Principal Broker
In Oregon, Brokers are required work under a Principal Broker for at least three years before earning their own Principal Broker’s license, if that’s the direction they want to head. Principal Brokers take on the legal responsibility for their own set of Brokers (or they may work independently). Principle Broker’s license does not mean that they will sell your home better or faster than a regular Broker, the Principle Broker license exists for supervision over other Brokers. If a real estate agent has little desire to be an administrator over other Brokers and has more desire to focus on helping clients buy and sell homes, they may never pursue a Principal Broker’s license.

The most important thing is that you trust your real estate agent, they have a proven track record with written, verifiable, reviews and referrals by former clients, and that they are in good standing with the Oregon Real Estate Agency (the state regulatory board) and a member of the National Association of REALTORS.

How do you tell? It’s quick to look up an agent by first and last name by going to the Oregon Real Estate Agency government website. Look to see if the agent or Broker’s license is current, which Principal Broker they work with if they’re a Broker, and for any disciplinary actions on their records.

July 25, 2016

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.25% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.