Sales of Manhattan properties jumped for the first time in a year and a half, but the good times aren’t likely to last. Real estate sales volume in Manhattan rose

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker?

Technically and legally, they are one and the same. That’s because what the public refers to as an ‘agent’ usually isn’t one – they’re a salesperson.

In the world of real estate there are two type of licenses: broker and salesperson.

The salesperson license is what a majority of people get as it requires minimal classes, passing an easier test at a low pass/fail threshold (70% score gets you a pass in California) and gets you working quickly. The drawback is that the license is useless unless you work for a broker – the license comes with very high use restrictions. This means that, unless you work for a broker, you cannot work in any real estate capacity for another person if you only have a salesperson license – you cannot accept commissions or represent someone else.

The broker license requires more classes and the applicant to pass a much harder exam with a higher pass/fail limit the courses usually involve real estate finance and law, which the salespersons aren’t required to do. The benefits of the broker license is that you can operate fully on your own and are legally capable of accepting commission for services. You also take on all liability for your actions and those of salespersons who work under you. That means you are always the legal ‘agent’ of every transaction you or your salespersons are involved in – the broker is the only person who can act in a legal capacity as an agent for another person.

When it comes to a transaction, you will notice that the paperwork will have areas where it calls out the broker who the salesperson works for. This is legally required because it’s actually the broker representing you – the salesperson is allowed to be a sub-agent for the broker due to their agreement to work on behalf of that broker. If things go south, you will be suing the broker first since they’re the legal agent and responsible for all actions of the salespersons working under them.