Many people commonly use the terms Salesperson, Broker, Agent and REALTOR® interchangeably, as if they are all one and the same. The truth is that these terms have different meanings and we should be careful in their use.
The term "Salesperson" (as in Real Estate Salesperson or Real Estate Sales Representative) refers to someone who has attained all of the licensing requirements needed to help the public buy, sell, lease, exchange or negotiate for any interest in either real property or a business opportunity. All Salespersons must work under the direct supervision of a licensed Broker.
The term "Broker" (as in Real Estate Broker) specifically refers to someone who has the required qualifications and license to be in the Real Estate brokerage business. Brokers can do everything that a registered Salesperson can, but in addition they are also qualified to own, operate and supervise an actual Real Estate company and employ Salespeople to work for them.
While the term "Agent" is not specific to the Real Estate industry, most Real Estate Salespeople, Brokers and REALTORS® do act as agents when conducting business. An Agent is defined as anyone who represents another in a business transaction.
The word REALTOR® is actually a registered trademark that can only be used by someone who has been accepted as a member of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). This organization requires all of its members to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice. The Code and Standards are very important because they assure that all REALTORS® offer the highest level of service, honesty and integrity possible. All REALTORS® are subject to constant professional monitoring that keeps them directly accountable to the individual consumers they serve. NAR also ensures that all of its members are knowledgeable and highly trained in order to better serve the public and offers ongoing education courses so that REALTORS® continue to meet the highest professional standards in an ever-changing industry.