What is the Difference Between An Agent and A Broker in the Real Estate Industry in California

By Ciprian Morariu Published: January 19, 2024

If launching a career in real estate is your goal in 2024 you should first be aware of the various roles and responsibilities in this niche. At times it can be complex, but one thing is assured if you want to make California your home ground. A real estate career in this state is becoming increasingly popular because of the booming market trends in the state. 

What makes it easy to join the profession is that it is relatively easier than other fields to get a license and get down to work. However, some strict laws and regulations govern this sector and you must fulfill state and national minimum requirements to get started. 

However, once you are in this industry, a real estate career is both lucrative and rewarding. Through hard work, the commissions you earn will be more than the median salary of most other jobs.  

In this post, we will walk you through how to become a real estate agent in California or a broker including the requirements to fulfill to become one. 

We are going to dissect the job roles and responsibilities of a real estate agent and how they differentiate from a real estate broker in California. 

Additionally, you will also learn about what are some common similarities between brokers and agents. 

So get ready to learn the fundamentals, expand your knowledge, and make an informed career decision.

Broker in the Real Estate Industry in California

What is the role of an Agent vis a vis a Broker in the real estate industry? 

It is time now to clear the differences between agents and brokers and there’s no better way to do that than starting with the definition of real estate broker vs agent. 

A real estate agent helps buyers and sellers of property to carry out their transactions. An agent acts as a go-between buyers and sellers and ensures that all the rules related to property dealings are complied with. However, as per current regulations, an agent must work under the mentorship of a broker in a brokerage firm. 

On the other hand, a real estate broker has additional qualifications and experience to work independently. This includes passing California’s broker’s license examination and completing the continuing education course hours. 

As in the case of real estate agents, brokers too must complete specific hours of coursework and pass a licensing exam to practice in the industry. 

Roles and Responsibilities of Real Estate Brokers

Due to having extensive training and knowledge, Brokers in California are responsible for supervising real estate agents. 

Brokers enable agents to perform their duties while adhering to the legal and regulatory regulations of the state.

They ensure the firm is equipped with all the necessary resources, talent, and equipment to perform to its full potential. Because of their industry experience, brokers typically look after the financial, and legal aspects of running a brokerage firm. 

Responsibilities and Scope of Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents perform various roles in this industry that vary greatly from one another.  

The most critical role is helping people navigate complex real estate transactions and ensure that they always get a fair deal.  

The exact job requirements of a real estate agent in California can be listed as follows: 

  • Generating leads and inquiries on behalf of a broker or a brokerage firm
  • Helping clients buy, sell, and lease residential and commercial real estate
  • Managing real estate listing database and records up-to-date
  • Showing properties and conducting site visits for clients
  • Providing detailed information to potential clients about a property and its location, value, fixtures, features and amenities
  • Presenting and reviewing purchase contracts to buyers and sellers
  • Promoting and advertising with listings, ads, and classifieds
  • Preparing and formulating real estate contracts, deeds, rental agreements, and related documents to facilitate legal real estate transactions
  • Liaising with home inspectors and appraisers to provide fair and transparent property evaluation to clients
  • Offer consultation services to clients and help them make informed decisions regarding buying, selling, and renting of real estate. 

The above list of responsibilities is not exhaustive as real estate agents are often expected to manage and juggle multiple tasks at once. 

Legal Requirements for Real Estate Brokers

Below is a handy checklist of all the legal requirements as defined and enforced by the Department of Real Estate (DRE) in California: 

  • You must have an active, up-to-date real estate agent license in California
  • You must have at least two years of work experience as a licensed salesperson in California. 
  • You are also eligible for a real estate license if you have a 4-year college education with real estate as a major subject.  
  • Complete the 8 mandatory college courses from a state-accredited college or university as part of the pre-licensing education. 
  • Schedule and pass the licensure exam for real estate brokers in California   
  • Submit your real estate broker’s license application along with your digital fingerprints, employment verification form, and proof of license fee payment. 

After submitting your broker’s license application along with the aforementioned documents, you will receive your license within a few weeks. 

Legal Requirements for Real Estate Agents

  • You must be a minimum of 18 years old. 
  • Be a legal resident of the state of California. 
  • Be honest, ethical, and truthful in your demeanors to meet the ethical code of conduct.

If you meet the above requirements, then the next set of legal requirements to get a state approved real estate agent license are as follows: 

  • Complete the mandatory 135 hours of pre-licensing coursework from a state-approved college or course provider. 
  • Take and clear the California salesperson licensing exam by scoring at least 70% or above in your final score. 

CDRE (California Department of Real Estate) stipulates that all aspiring real estate agents must submit fingerprints for verification of any past criminal records or acts of felony.

Agent in the Real Estate Industry in California

Realtor vs Broker: Decoding the Distinction

Defining Realtors and Brokers

You might have come across the term ‘real estate realtor’ but have you ever wondered what it exactly means?

Many people often get confused between a real estate realtor and a broker. If you too are not sure of the same, then allow us to clear the air by defining the difference between realtor and broker. 

Any licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Realtors Association (NRA) is called a realtor. 

To become a realtor, you must have an active California state license along with a membership of the NRA. 

A real estate broker, on the other hand, is also a seasoned industry professional with deep experience and knowledge. A broker has a specialized real estate license which allows them to run an independent brokerage firm or business. 

The Role of a Realtor

Fundamentally, a realtor is also responsible for helping people buy and sell real estate. 

However, a realtor might not engage in a transaction at the onset, but instead, contribute to the matters of resolving a dispute. 

Additionally, realtors can make use of their NRA membership to find access to industry sources and legal tools to enable fair, transparent, and ethical real estate transactions. 

What is the Role of a Broker in the Real Estate Industry?

Brokers in California are responsible for managing and training a team of real estate agents and ensuring ethical, fair, and transparent decisions are made. 

Real estate brokers supervise contracts and manage the transactions. 

Due to their advanced knowledge and experience, brokers are generally focused on conducting market research and analysis to determine opportunities for sales. 

As a real estate broker, you will also be expected to oversee the financial aspects of running a brokerage firm and ensuring its overall growth and success. 

Real Estate Agents in California: A Comprehensive Overview

The Real Estate Market in California

California has an exciting real estate market and is home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world. These factors come together to give California a well-rounded appeal favorable for homeowners, migrants, and investors. 

As a real estate agent, working in hot and rapidly growing markets like Los Angeles, Nevada, San Diego, and San Francisco can be really lucrative for your career.  

Did you know that the average salary for a California real estate agent can go as high as $100K annually?

This means you can build a thriving real estate career as an agent working in the Sunshine State.