The main difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker is that a real estate agent works for a real estate brokerage, while a real estate broker can run their own real estate brokerage and supervises agents that work in that brokerage. Both a real estate broker and a real estate agent can represent buyers and sellers, but real estate brokers would have had a minimum number of years of working as a real estate agent and have undergone additional licensing and training in order to become a broker. Real estate brokers are agents, but they have the ability to independently operate without having to work for a real estate brokerage firm.
Real estate brokers that work independently don’t have to split their commissions with a brokerage. On the other hand, real estate agents usually have to pay 20% of their real estate commissions to their brokerage.
Which one should you choose?
Both agents and brokers have gone through training and licensing to make sure that they are competent, but brokers have gone a step further with additional training. However, this doesn't mean much on its own. If you’re looking for someone with plenty of experience, you shouldn’t automatically exclude real estate agents from your search. A real estate broker could have the bare minimum working experience required for a broker's license, while a real estate agent might have already been working as an agent for decades.
Provinces in Canada will have different official names for real estate agents and brokers. In Ontario, real estate agents are officially called as real estate salespersons, while in British Columbia they are called real estate representatives. Some provinces require licensing for those employed by a real estate agent to represent buyers and sellers. In New Brunswick, a real estate salesperson is employed by a real estate agent, while licensed real estate managers act as a real estate broker by supervising real estate salespersons.
Some provinces also distinguish between real estate brokers. In British Columbia, an associate broker is a broker that doesn't manage a brokerage, while a managing broker is the main point of contact of a brokerage, supervises all transactions, and manages agents.
|Province||Real Estate Agent||Real Estate Broker|
|Alberta||•Real Estate Associate|
•Real Estate Associate Broker•Real Estate Broker
|British Columbia||•Real Estate Representative|
•Real Estate Associate Broker•Real Estate Managing Broker
|Manitoba||•Real Estate Salesperson||•Real Estate Broker|
•Real Estate Agent•Real Estate Salesperson
|•Real Estate Manager|
|Newfoundland and Labrador|
•Real Estate Representative•Real Estate Restricted Salesperson
•Real Estate Broker•Real Estate Restricted Broker
|Nova Scotia||•Real Estate Salesperson|
•Real Estate Broker•Real Estate Managing Associate Broker
|Ontario||•Real Estate Salesperson||•Real Estate Broker|
|Prince Edward Island||•Real Estate Salesperson||•Real Estate Agent|
|Quebec||•Real Estate Broker||•Real Estate Agency|
|Saskatchewan||•Real Estate Salesperson|
•Real Estate Broker•Real Estate Associate Broker•Real Estate Branch Manager
When looking for a real estate agent, you might find terms such as listing agents, buyer's agents, and dual agents. These agents specialize in different types of transactions, or they may represent you for a certain transaction.
If you are selling your home, you will be working with a listing agent. A seller's agent, also known as a listing agent, is used to sell a property. A selling agent is different from a seller's agent, since a selling agent is the buyer's agent.
Listing agents will handle things such as getting your home ready for sale, such as suggesting renovations or repairs, arranging professional photography and videography, and listing your home on MLS. Listing agents can also help you price your home, advertise using their own network and channels, and also be the one that runs open houses. Listing agents also negotiate offers and guide you through the paperwork.
When you're selling a home, you will be the one that pays the real estate commissions for both your listing agent and the buyer's agent.
Buyer's agents represent home buyers, and they will be the one that helps you find a home to buy, let you know about interesting listings, and work with you through the buying process. This includes making an offer on a home and handling paperwork.
More often than not, a buyer's agent won't cost home buyers anything. Buyer's agents will only be paid if you purchase a home with them, and they will be paid by the sellers of the home. If you're unable to purchase the perfect home with them, then you won't be charged anything.
Dual agency, or a dual agent, is a real estate agent that represents both the buyer and seller. A dual agency is when two real estate agents, a listing agent and a buyer’s agent, work for the same real estate brokerage in a real estate transaction. Dual agency and dual agents are prohibited in British Columbia, since dual agency can be a conflict of interest. That’s because sellers want as high of a price as possible for their home, while buyers want as low of a price as possible. If the same agent represents both the buyer and seller, they can be tempted to favour one side, such as for the purposes of commissions.
Even in British Columbia where dual agencies are banned, there are exceptions in certain circumstances, such as if the property is in a remote location that might not have many real estate agents available for the buyers and sellers.
Dual agencies are referred to differently in some provinces. The table below lists how dual agency relationships are referred to in each province, and whether or not dual agents are allowed.
|Province||Dual Agency Relationship||Allowed?|
|British Columbia||Dual Agency||No|
|Manitoba||Manitoba Limited Joint Representation||Yes|
|New Brunswick||Dual Agency||Yes|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Dual Agency||Yes|
|Nova Scotia||Transaction Brokerage||Yes|
|Prince Edward Island||Dual Agency||Yes|
|Saskatchewan||Limited Dual Agency||Yes|