Real Estate Agent or Broker, What's the Big Deal?

Real Estate Agent or Broker, What's the Big Deal?

I stumbled across a web post on which I feel compelled to comment. "Real Estate Agents or Brokers, What's the Difference?"   Apparently the author of the post does not see any major difference, according to the author of the post, however, as a licensed managing broker, licensed real estate pre-license instructor, licensed real continuing education and REALTOR, I must disagree.

In Illinois, Real Estate is a profession that is regulated by the Real Estate Division of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. It is the Departments task to administer the Illinois Real Estate License Act, a state statute. The purpose of the License Act is to protect the public and to evaluate the competency of Illinois real estate licensees for the protection of the public. 

Prior to the Amendment to the Illinois Real Estate License Act which became effective January 1, 2010, the educational requirement to qualify for the entry level real estate salesperson's license was 45 hours. This educational requirement was one of the lowest in the country. The amendment eliminated the salesperson's license and  the broker license became the entry level license requiring 120 hours of education, a significant increase.

Those holding the existing salesperson's license were permitted to transition by either passing a proficiency exam to demonstrate competence or by taking an additional 30-hour class. Anyone electing to take the proficiency exam and not passing, were required to complete the 30-hour class.

In addition, the managing broker license was created. This license is required for anyone who manages a real estate brokerage business. In order to obtain the license, an individual must be a licensed broker for two out of the past three years, complete an additional 45 hour of managing broker education and passing another state exam.  

Under the License Act, an office may have only one managing broker, and that is an individual with a managing broker's license who has been reported to IDFPR by the brokerage firm as the managing broker of the firm. 

The managing broker license is designed for an individual managing a real estate office.  It creates accountability. The managing broker is responsible to make sure that the licensees associated with the firm are trained and properly representing the consumer.


A review of current disciplinary actions by the IDFPR  indicate that the state takes the role of managing broker seriously as there are now disciplinary actions for failure to adequately supervise real estate licensees under the managing broker's supervision.


If a consumer has a complaint about a licensee, it is now clear that there is a manager with whom to speak.


A REALTOR is a real estate licensee who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and when joining, agrees to subscribe to a strict code of ethics in his real estate practice.


As far as the terminology is concerned, there really is a difference and it is important that the real estate licensee understands that difference as it might apply to his role in the real estate transaction.


The intent of the law is to raise the bar and protect the consumer.  Regardless, the blog post does share an important point. The consumer certainly does need to do his due diligence when seeking a real estate licensee to represent him.




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