Illinois Real Estate Agents or Brokers - What's the Difference

Illinois Real Estate Agents or Brokers - What's the Difference

When I became licensed to sell real estate in 1998, I took a course that certified me as a "real estate salesperson."  The public called us "agents."  If you wanted to open your own office or manage one, you needed to take additional, extensive training.  Becoming a "broker" was prestigious.

But several years ago, Illinois completely ravamped its qualifications and training for real estate.  Nowadays, all former agents are now brokers, and former brokers are called managing brokers.   It's confusing . . . but why did they do it?

Raising the bar for entry has always been a concern for real estate agents, so when they announced that we would all be brokers, it seemed as though that bar would finally be raised.  Remember I said that the old broker training was extensive so I was excited and a little worried.  Would I make it on the first try like I did for my first license?  I had heard that in California the test just to become an agent was 5 hours long - I'd surely need to bone-up.

So thousands of agents paraded through the process only to discover that the test was  . . . easy.  We did it by taking a test that took around 45 minutes and wasn't any harder than the usual continuing education that we are required to take.

Today, real estate brokers, like myself, list and sell real estate.  Managing brokers may or may not sell real estate depending on their company's policy, and their job is described as being responsible for maintaining a functioning real estate office.

The new test for brokers does include more hours than I needed to take in 1998 so the bar was raised a fraction.  But in the end, Illinois reaped a windfall from this change.  Literally every agent in the state had to take additional classes, tests, and licenses.

And for a state that is not robust financially, this may have been a gritty necessity.

Just understand that a "broker" is what an "agent" used to be called and you should still do your due diligence when choosing whom to work with.

(But wait, there's more!  We can also be Realtors® - dues paying members of the National Association of Realtors.  Some of us are and some aren't - it's a choice.)


Filed under: Real Estate


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