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How to Do It: Decoding three common titles behind agents' names — and how they could matter to you

Realtors Showing a Home to a CoupleFinding a real estate agent is arguably the most important consideration when you’re buying or selling a house. Understandably, it can be confusing not knowing the meanings of the various titles associated with real estate professionals. But knowing those differences in classifications is helpful in making the right choice for your needs.


Real estate franchises

Most people are familiar with franchises such as Marriott International, Panera Bread and Anytime Fitness. In real estate, franchises operate in the much the same fashion, offering brand recognition with marketing and support to affiliates. Founded in 1976, Sotheby’s International Realty extended the respected Sotheby’s auction brand into the luxury real estate domain, to connect clients with superior real estate companies. In 2004, the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise system was created, granting licenses to brokerages meeting stringent criteria. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty is one of those. It was founded as a boutique firm in 1960 by Ben R. Briggs and subsequently led by his son Robbie Briggs for more than 30 years — and, today, by president and CEO Russ Anderson. Having Sotheby’s International Realty in our name is a testament to our brokerage’s experience and the unmatched quality of our agents.


What exactly is a brokerage?

A real estate brokerage is a business entity licensed by the state that employs one or more real estate agents. A brokerage represents the interests of buyers and sellers in property transactions. In Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) regulates real estate companies, agents and appraisers. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty has close to 400 agents operating in our territories.


Who’s who: Real estate agent? Broker? Broker associate?

Let’s break down the terms and requirements for real estate licensing and explain why the differences can matter for buyers and sellers.


What is a real estate agent?

Real estate agents are sales associates who earn commissions by representing buyers or sellers in property transactions. The requirements for becoming a licensed real estate agent vary by state. In Texas, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, successfully complete 180 hours of TREC-approved education and pass the state examination. A licensed broker must sponsor agents before they can legally undertake any real estate services or transactions.


One of the many things that sets a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty agent apart is that, because they are affiliated with the Sotheby’s International Realty global network, they can help connect clients to properties anywhere in the United States or the world. For that reason, many Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty agents use the title Global Real Estate Advisor. 


Realtor Signing Paperwork While Holding a Small Wooden HouseUnderstanding the difference between real estate agents and REALTORS®

Clients often assume that the terms “REALTOR” and “real estate agent” are synonymous. In fact, the word “REALTOR” is a registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). REALTORS are members of NAR who subscribe to a code of ethics and standards of practice. Members pay annual dues that give them access to professional development opportunities and a range of valuable, current data related to sales and marketing.


So, what is a broker?

Brokers are real estate agents who continue their education to get their broker’s license — the highest licensing status issued by the association. Most brokers have more post-secondary education in specific courses as well as business savvy in running their real estate business. Brokers are committed to real estate full-time. Each state has its own rules for eligibility. Qualifying as a licensed broker in Texas requires a total of 900 hours of TREC-approved educational training with a minimum of four years as an active, licensed real estate agent within the previous five years preceding the filing of the application. A licensed broker can start a brokerage under their own name or affiliate with a real estate franchise.


And, what is a broker associate?

A broker associate has the same qualifications as a broker but chooses to work beneath a broker — also known as the broker of record — without the responsibilities of supervising real estate agents. A broker associate’s services can include mentoring agents, handling any concerns or complaints of clients and helping manage the business side of the brokerage.


Should you work with an agent — or a broker associate?

For buyers and sellers, the experience will be very similar whether you use a broker associate or an agent. Some agents may have more experience than broker associates but have chosen not to enroll in the additional courses required for the broker associate designation. Regardless of whom you choose to represent your interests, the decision will really depend on personal preference and your confidence in the person. You can always be assured that professional agents work under the supervision of a broker.


Work with us, no matter the label

At Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, our team of experienced agents and broker associates can handle any type of real estate transaction. We have a deep understanding of the markets, and our agents specialize in a variety of property types, including luxury homes, ranches, land, new construction, residential resales and more. Our global reach extends to more than 80 countries and territories, making us the choice for buyers and sellers with international interests. We use cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned know-how to market properties, and our agents are available 24/7 to provide expert advice and assistance. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with every real estate need — at home or anywhere.


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