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The real estate industry can seem complicated and confusing, if you don’t know the ins and outs of the different kinds of professionals that work on buying and selling homes and commercial real estate in Austin. In order to know why or when you might benefit from working with an Austin real estate broker, it helps to get a handle on the different roles of Austin real estate professionals and what they ultimately mean.

Most people use terms like real estate agent, Realtor® and real estate broker interchangeably. The truth is they’re all a bit different, and before you hire anyone to buy or sell your Austin TX home or commercial property, it’s good to have an idea of who can be the most useful to you.

As a long-standing Austin real estate broker, I’ve assembled this quick and easy guide for you to use as a reference.

Real Estate Professionals Explained: Understanding the Core Differences Between an Austin Real Estate Broker, a Realtor® and a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is the most common, and universal, classification of real estate professional. Anyone who has passed the minimum state study and testing requirements for a real estate license is a real estate agent. In Texas, individuals must complete 180 hours of education and sit the state exam. To work as an Austin real estate agent, an individual must be employed by an Austin real estate broker.

The requirements to become an Austin real estate broker are much more comprehensive, with additional standards around experience, further education, and testing. Once an agent has reached these requirements, they can obtain a broker’s license, and employ other brokers or agents in their own business. Additionally, they may open multiple offices.

Real estate agents and brokers can also be Realtors®, which means that they’re members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the nation’s largest trade association for real estate professionals. NAR members all agree to abide by the association’s strict professional standards and Code of Ethics. There are currently approximately 12,000 Austin Realtors®.

What It Takes to Become a Leading Austin Real Estate Broker

On top of the requirements to become a real estate agent, Austin real estate brokers have to complete 800 hours of additional education, as well as have at least four years of experience in the industry.

This is why real estate brokers are the only real estate professionals who can open their own businesses employing agents and other real estate brokers, and why every agent must work for a real estate agency run by a broker — only people with extensive expertise and experience in the field can properly support the real estate agents who work for them, and serve the interests of their customers.

That’s why, even when you’re working with a real estate agent, it’s important to do your research on who they work for — so remember, when you’re choosing an agent, you’re also choosing an Austin real estate broker!

Is Your Austin Real Estate Broker Independent or Franchise?

When choosing an Austin real estate broker, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether to work with an independent broker, or a franchise broker. While there can be advantages and disadvantages to both, one thing you can know for sure is that an independent Austin real estate broker has the control and flexibility to run his or her business in whatever ways make sense for their customers and local market.

Successful, long-standing independent Austin real estate brokers have built their businesses based on their connection to the community, their local knowledge, and their ability to build relationships with customers who keep coming back.

Independent Austin real estate brokers also don’t have to build franchise fees into their costs, which can mean a better deal for Austin home buyers and sellers. And with so much of the real estate business moving online, the advertising buying power that once stood as a major advantage of franchise brokers is lessening in importance.

Choosing the Austin Real Estate Broker that’s Right for You

Though there are exceptions, Austin real estate brokers tend to be the most knowledgeable of Austin real estate professionals. If you have a home sale, Austin luxury homes, or a commercial property for sale in Austin that is more complicated, you may benefit from having an Austin real estate broker represent you.

When choosing an Austin real estate broker, you need to consider a few things. What are you hoping to achieve with your home sale or purchase, or with the sale or purchase of commercial real estate in Austin? Who understands the Austin real estate market? Who has the best reputation and the most knowledge? Who can provide the most satisfying service? Who do you feel the most comfortable with (remember, you’ll be working with them for a while)?

Before you make a decision on who to work with, talk to a few Austin real estate brokers. Come armed with research and questions. Ultimately, the right fit comes down to finding the people who have the experience, expertise, and resources to help you sell or buy your home or commercial property for the right price.

At Habitat Hunters, we’ve been leaders in Austin real estate sales and purchases since 1972. We’re one of the longest standing independent real estate companies in the region — we know the city, and we know the industry. All of our agents are Austin Realtors®.

As an Austin real estate broker, our agency prides itself on excellent customer service. We’re also one of the only Austin real estate agencies to have an on-site real estate lawyer and CPA. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home or commercial real estate in Austin. Contact our Austin real estate agency today!