The difference between Real Estate Agents, Realtors, and Brokers

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

The Real Estate industry offers multiple opportunities to build a very promising and lucrative career. Regardless of the market conditions, there will always be people buying, selling or renting real estate. This provides ongoing career opportunities in residential, commercial and investment real estate.

According to the average salary for a Real Estate Agent is $106,933 per year in Canada. This will vary based on your location, the market and the type of position you hold. Nonetheless, this is an impressive salary well above the overall national salary in Canada of $55,806.40 a year.

Here we explore the different jobs available in the real estate industry with the distinct differences between real estate agents, realtors, and brokers.


A real estate agent is a licensed professional who is qualified to assist with buying, selling, or renting any form of real estate. This includes housing, land and commercial property.

In Canada Provincial regulators are responsible for establishing the educational and licensing requirements for real estate agents. When pursuing a career as an realtor, applicants will have to meet a minimum educational level and, in some provinces, also undergo supervised practical training. This is referred to as “articling.” There is a written exam that must be passed as well.

The licensing requirements to become a registered real estate professional are based on the province or territory in which you live. There are many institutions that offer real estate related courses including colleges and universities. They offer specialized programs for bachelor’s degrees in real estate as well as graduate-level courses.

Like many licensed professions, continuing education is required for real estate professionals in many provinces. This ensures real estate professionals remain up to date on the latest rules and regulations in the industry.

Once a person is licensed, they can then become a member of their local Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). This officially makes them a realtor®.


So what is the difference between a real estate agent and realtor®? Not every licensed or registered broker or real estate agent is a realtor®. An agent must become a member of CREA to be designated as a realtor®.

Members of CREA enjoy additional benefits including:

  • A commitment to the realtor® Code, an accepted standard of conduct for all realtors® to guarantee professionalism.

  • Access to comparable prices, neighborhood trends, housing market conditions and more.

  • Ongoing education to maintain a high level of current knowledge about the real estate industry.

  • Access to Board MLS® Systems to provide the cooperate sale of properties to benefit consumers.

As a realtor® you will be committed to helping clients complete transactions without worry. You will remain on the leading edge of the industry to provide the much-needed housing market information required to ensure your clients are either paying or receiving a fair price for their property. Your job is to guarantee a higher level of competence through the benefits offered by CREA.


With so many types of real estate transactions available, there are different types of agents who specialize in specific areas of real estate. This provides you with different opportunities in the real estate market including:

Listing agent

This agent represents the home seller. They will carry out a variety of critical tasks related to the sale of property including:

  • Pricing the home to get the top price based on local real estate marketing trends

  • Recommending home improvements or staging for a quicker sale

  • Marketing the home

  • Planning and holding open houses

  • Scheduling showings with home buyers

  • Negotiating with buyers to get the best terms and price

  • Overseeing home inspections

  • Managing the closing process

The listing agent is not paid until they sell a property and the property has changed ownership. Listing agents are paid via commission which ranges from 2.5 to 6% of the property price. This fee can vary based on the level of experience and marketing/staging strategies to be implemented.

Buyer’s agent

As the name implies, buyer's agents represent home buyers. Their duties include:

  • Finding the right home for a client’s needs, budget and location

  • Negotiating an offer to get the best price and terms

  • Recommending other professionals such as mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, etc.

  • Troubleshooting problems that might arise during negotiations, following home inspections or appraisal issues to name a few.

The buyer’s agent is paid by the seller via the commission paid to the listing agent.

Rental agent

Rental agents help consumers find rental properties. They can assist with a number of tasks based on their client’s needs. Often, the rental agent will only join a client once they have started the actual process of viewing the properties. The rental agent sends clients listings to view based on their requirements.

A rental agent is also very valuable when it comes to leases. They can review the lease with clients to ensure they understand the terms.

On the flip side, rental agents also work with landlords. They can assist in finding tenants for a fee. Who pays the fee is often based on the market. In competitive markets, it is usually the tenant instead of the landlord since the landlord has an endless list of applicants, and the tenant is limited in their choices. This is referred to as a broker fee which can range from $50 to $75 but can also be as much as one month’s rent, or a percentage as high as 15% of the annual rent on the apartment.


Last but not least, this brings us to real estate brokers. A broker has additional education that allows them to own a brokerage, which allows them to hire realtors or agents to work for them. Brokers require a special license that is acquired through provincial education and exam requirements.

Additional studies to become a broker cover different areas including ethics, contracts, taxes, and insurance in far more detail than the real estate agent licensing course. To become a broker, you’ll also need to learn the different aspects of real estate law and the nuances of operating a brokerage. Other areas include real estate investments, construction, and property management.

An agent or realtor requires a certain number of years of experience before they can write the broker’s exam. This varies by province but is usually around three years.


There are three types of real estate brokers:

1. Principal/designated broker: This broker oversees all licensed real estate agents at a real estate firm and ensures that agents are operating in compliance with provincial and national real estate law. In this role, principal brokers get paid commission based on the commissions of all the sales agents they supervise. In some cases, they might receive a base salary as well.

2. Managing broker: In this role the broker oversees the day-to-day operation of the office including hiring agents, training new agents, and managing administrative staff.

3. Associate broker: Also called a broker associate or affiliate broker, this broker is licensed but works under a managing broker. This job does not usually require the supervising of agents.

As you can see the real estate industry offers many opportunities for Agents, Realtors® and Brokers. If you are interested in pursuing a career in real estate and would like to join a team of high performing agents, get in touch with us or apply online.

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