Real Estate Agents vs. Brokers in Seattle WA: What’s the Difference?

Are you thinking about buying or selling a home in Seattle, you may be wondering what the difference is between real estate agents and brokers (lenders). In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between these two professions and help you decide which is right for you.

Real Estate Agents

A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to sell a property.

They’re in charge of meeting clients, hosting open houses, finding a fair asking or listing price for a property based on comparable sales, and everything else that goes into selling or buying a home.


Types of Real Estate Agents

Listing Agent

In a real estate transaction, a listing agent is a licensed real estate agent who represents the seller. Listing agents oversee guiding sellers through each step of the selling process.

Selling Agent

A selling agent represents the buyer in a home sale.

A selling agent identifies properties their clients might be interested in purchasing; contacts the listing agent to set up showings; presents the sellers with offers from their clients; and guides them through closing once an offer is accepted.

Dual Agent

Dual agency is a real estate term that means one agent or brokerage represents both the seller and the buyer in the same real estate transaction.

A dual agent must walk a narrow path to be neutral toward both parties, and they may not disclose confidential information to either party.

Responsibilities of Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents have many of the same responsibilities as real estate brokers, except that they are not responsible for activities directly related to managing a brokerage firm. The primary responsibilities for agents include:

  • Generating leads for buying and selling property
  • Offering professional advice for clients regarding market conditions and housing prices
  • Creating lists of real estate properties based on criteria set by the client
  • Studying property listings
  • Interviewing prospective clients
  • Accompanying clients to the property site
  • Advertising properties that are for sale using ads, MLS listings and open houses
  • Identifying the fair listing price for a property based upon other sales in similar properties
  • Preparing contracts and purchase agreements
  • Arranging a meeting between buyers and sellers to negotiate the details of transactions
  • Helping families as they evaluate different mortgage options


5 Steps of Becoming a Broker Real Estate Agent in Seattle WA



To start, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Be able to answer criminal history questions and submit fingerprints for a background check for your initial license, and again every 6 years thereafter.


  1. Complete 90 hours of approved Pre-Licensing education

Successfully complete 90 clock-hours of approved Pre-Licensing courses.

  1. Pass the course final exam

After you complete all the course materials, meet the minimum time requirement, and pass the practice exam, there is a course final exam. The minimum passing score is 75%.

  1. Pass the Washington real estate examination

PSI/AMP administers the Washington real estate licensing exam. This test is comprised of two portions, covering both state and national requirements.

  1. Complete the background check/fingerprint requirement

You must submit your fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a state (WSP) and national (FBI) fingerprint-based criminal history background check.

  1. Complete the application

Visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website to apply for your Washington real estate license.


How does real estate agent get paid?

Most real estate agents earn money from commissions. These are payments given directly to real estate agents in exchange for their services in the sale or acquisition of real estate. A commission is typically a percentage of the sale price of the property, although it can also be a flat charge.


How long does it take to become a real estate agent?

A real estate license typically requires 60 to 90 hours of formal education, as well as preparing and taking the licensing exam. This means that becoming a licensed agent can take anywhere from three to six months.



A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors whose duty it is to sell houses, structures, and land.

They help clients find properties that meet requirements, draft contracts, and negotiate with buyers and sellers. They also host open houses, perform market research, and cultivate client networks.


4 Steps on becoming a Realtor

  1. Have a valid and active real estate license
  2. Be actively engaged in the real estate business
  3. Not have a record of official sanctions involving unprofessional conduct
  4. Not have filed for any recent or pending bankruptcy


Responsibilities of Realtors

The responsibilities for realtors, for the most part, overlap with that of real estate agents. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining their education and paying annual membership dues to the NAR
  • Networking and prospecting to find clients
  • Traveling with clients to different properties to find a home that meets their needs
  • Preparing homes for sale and possibly staging them so they are appealing to buyers
  • Hosting open houses for clients who are interested in selling their homes quickly
  • Looking at recent sales to determine what the best price should be for a property
  • Promoting a property through participating in the MLS, advertising, social media and open houses
  • Coordinating closings, overseeing the signing of documents and disbursement of funds
  • Offering guidance to sellers about how to make a home more appealing to buyers and possibly staging a home if the realtor specializes in that area
  • Possibly conducting training sessions and seminars for less experienced agents to improve their sales techniques
  • Evaluating different mortgage options to help clients obtain the best financing based on their unique situation


Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is a certified real estate professional who runs their own real estate company. They can serve as a real estate agent for either the buyer or the seller in a real estate transaction. A broker, on the other hand, usually needs additional training and must pass a separate license exam.


Three Main Tiers of Real Estate Brokers

Associate Brokers

An associate broker is a real estate professional who has met the requirements to become a licensed real estate broker but has not yet opened their own brokerage.

Managing Brokers

A managing broker is a broker who has the responsibility to manage an office or agency, all aspects of operations and the conduct and compliance of other agents in the office.

Principal Broker

Principal broker means a broker who is either a real estate proprietor, a partner in a real estate partnership, or an officer in a real estate corporation.


Becoming a Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers require course training, licensing, and on-the-job training. Here are the requirements you need to become a real estate broker:

1. Take a state-approved real estate sales course

First and foremost, real estate brokers must be educated. These courses cover topics such as real estate law, finance, insurance, taxes, and ethics. To qualify for your license, you must ensure that the course you complete is approved by your state licensing board.

2. Pass your state’s real estate agent licensing exam

You must become a licensed real estate agent to become a real estate broker. The exam covers subjects like closing a deal, negotiations, real estate law and working with clients. Each state uses a different exam, so you should check with your state’s real estate licensing board to check the requirements.

3. Work as a real estate agent

Before you can start training as a real estate broker, you must work as a real estate agent. Every state has different requirements, but usually, it is two to five years working for a real estate broker and a certain number of real estate transactions. This experience will allow you to become familiar with working in real estate and build a reputation. It will also let you build a network and reputation.

4. Get real estate certifications

Several certificates are available to help you specialize in different sorts of real estate. This will aid in the development of your reputation and the focus of your business. Military relocation and buyers and sellers are two instances that come to mind, but there are many more. These certificates will need you to take classes and pass an exam.

5. Take a state-approved real estate broker course

You can take the real estate broker course once you have gained experience as a real estate agent. This course covers more ground than the real estate agent course in terms of contracts, ethics, insurance, and taxes, as well as the legal aspects of running a brokerage, property management, construction, and real estate investments.

6. Pass the real estate broker exam

Exam standards vary by state, but you must pass one to obtain a real estate broker license. This exam is much lengthier than the real estate agent exam, and it might take up to a full day to complete.


Responsibilities of Real Estate Brokers

The responsibilities of real estate brokers can vary depending on whether they are representing the buyer or the seller, or whether they are just supervising agents. Some of their primary responsibilities can include:

  • Sharing the brokerage’s real estate listings with other real estate agents who are part of that brokerage to get more buyers to the property
  • Listing homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
  • Providing guidance for the seller as they prepare a home for listing and showings
  • Submitting offers to the seller
  • Helping the buyer craft an offer and creating a purchase agreement
  • Delivering and explaining documents and coordinating the transaction process
  • Coordinating inspections and repair negotiations
  • Assisting the buyers at closing
  • Verifying that all brokerage agents have the necessary licensing
  • Instructing and training new agents
  • Providing marketing resources for agents
  • Maintaining a website for the brokerage
  • Overseeing agent performance and behavior in addition to legal compliance


How do real estate brokers get paid?

Real estate brokers make money by taking a cut of the commissions received by the agents under their supervision. They make money on their own transactions as well, but unlike real estate agents, they are not required to split their commissions with “the office.”


Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Agent

  • Cannot work independently
  • Must work from employing broker
  • Cannot work as a Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Broker

  • Can work independently
  • Can hire real estate salespeople
  • Generally, has more training
  • Can work as Real Estate Agent


Final Thoughts

Real estate agents are typically the first point of contact for potential clients. They will often show a property to prospective buyers but cannot make an offer on behalf of their client without consulting with them. Real Estate brokers have more training and experience in real estate law which allows them to take offers from both buyers or sellers, negotiate contracts, oversee closing agreements and much more. A broker can also hire other salespeople to work under him/her as well–an agent must be part of an employing brokerage firm which restricts his/her ability to move around company-wide or nationwide. When deciding between becoming a real estate agent vs. broker it is important you think about your level of commitment and skill set needed before making that decision!