Realtors®? Brokers? Is there a difference, and why should I care?


November 26, 2018

Last week, 12 people graduated from the broker pre-licensing class at our Cherry Hill real estate school. That very afternoon, a person called to enquire about getting her New Jersey real estate license. “Aren’t all Realtors® brokers?” she asked.

It made me realize how little members of the public understand about those of us who have chosen a real estate career.

Getting Your Real Estate License.

It all starts with you getting your New Jersey real estate license. To do so, you must be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate (or equivalent), pass a criminal background check, complete a 75-hour in-classroom real estate pre-licensing course, and pass the state exam. Every month, Garden State Real Estate Academy offers these pre-licensing classes during the evenings, part-time during the day, and in a two-week full-time class.

Getting Your Real Estate License.Once you pass that exam and affiliate with a brokerage, the New Jersey Real Estate Commission confers on you the title, “Real Estate Salesperson.” But you are still not a REALTOR®! That word is copyrighted by the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), and only NAR members are entitled to use it. In reality, one has to join NAR (along with the state, and local Boards of Realtors®) in order to have access to the Multiple Listing Service and our local electronic lockboxes that are on the homes we show clients. So virtually every residential real estate agent is also a Realtor®. There are estimated to be just under 2 million real estate agents in the United States, 1.3 million of whom are members of NAR. Those who are not NAR members tend to be commercial agents and those with a specialty other than residential properties.

What’s a Broker?

After a Realtor® has been a full-time real estate agent for at least three years, they may wish to pursue a Broker’s license. They must attend three courses totaling 150 hours on general real estate, Ethics and Agency law, and Office Management. After passing the Garden State Real Estate Academy’s final exam last week, those 12 great agents must sit for the very difficult, 120-question state exam.

When they pass (as I’m sure they all will!), they are entitled to own, run, or manage a real estate brokerage. In New Jersey, every brokerage must be under the direct full-time supervision of a Broker of Record. He or she carries the heavy responsibility of keeping the company in compliance with the myriad strict regulations imposed on real estate practitioners by the Real Estate Commission.Getting Your Real Estate License.

But not every one of those broker candidates wishes to assume a managerial or ownership role. Many of them want to have a broker’s license because they feel it gives them a competitive advantage over “mere” real estate agents to show their clients that they have taken the extra steps to reach this high professional accreditation of being Brokers.

Technically, the only person in a real estate company who can call himself “broker” is the Broker: the Broker of Record who is responsible for the office. All other brokers are called “Broker-Salesperson” or “Broker Associate” and they still work under the supervision of the Broker of Record.

What about an Instructor?

If you have held a broker’s license for at least two years, are a university graduate, and pass an even more-difficult examination, the Real Estate Commission may license one as a Real Estate Instructor. This entitles one to teach those salesperson- and broker pre-licensing courses and to also teach continuing education classes that licensees need to renew their licenses every two years..

If you are interested in becoming a New Jersey real estate agent—or in earning your NJ broker’s license—check out Garden State Real Estate Academy’s courses at or call us at 609.923.0590

David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 30 years ago. He is School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 13 books. David can be reached at

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