Broker, Real Estate Lawyer, Real Estate Agent, Realtor: What’s The Difference?

Summer is upon us. These are the most popular months for people to buy a home. It comes as no surprise that searching for and purchasing a home or property can be a complex — even daunting — experience. The professional real estate lawyers at the Law Offices of Diron Rutty have a large variety of resources to help make this process as painless as possible. We have even written about the importance of utilizing a broker during the home-buying process. Before you decide on what kind of professional is best for your needs, it is important to get clear on your options.

In this post we will go over the basic differences between brokers, real estate lawyers, real estate agents, and realtors. These terms can be a bit nebulous, and many of them are even used interchangeably, making for some confusing discussions. Accordingly, having a clear sense of what these terms mean will be invaluable in your home-buying decisions moving forward.

Consult a local Real Estate Lawyer in Bronx NY


In certain instances, it can be a good idea to consult a real estate lawyer for your property-buying inquiries. A real estate lawyer can be extremely helpful in navigating the legal complexities of property and real estate. These laws can vary greatly from state to state, and even county to county. As we will discover below, you can expect varying degrees of expertise on local and state real estate laws depending on what type of professional you’re working with. For the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, for instance, you can trust in our deep knowledge of the local laws specific to New York City and Poughkeepsie — as well as the state at large.

The benefit of a good real estate lawyer is that you won’t have to worry about holes in their expertise. You can rest assured that a good real estate lawyer will have thorough knowledge of the complexities of the laws and will work hard to ensure that you are able to make an informed and beneficial decision based on your needs. A real estate lawyer can also be an invaluable resource in evaluating or writing contracts. Legally-binding contracts are serious documents, and it can lead to devastating consequences to sign or write a contract that you don’t fully understand.


A real estate agent is the most flexible of the terms we’re exploring today, and it is often used as a catch-all for any sort of real estate professional. Nonetheless, a real estate agent — also known as a real estate associate — is best understood as a professional within the real estate industry who has passed all of the licensure steps required by their respective state laws. This is often the starting point for people entering into the professional world of real estate.

Broadly speaking, real estate agents can be divided into two categories: home-buying and home-selling agents. The existence of both home buying and home selling agents can act to level the playing field by ensuring that both sellers and buyers are well-informed. Indeed, some state laws can even require the use of buying agents.


The term “broker” can also be flexible. Generally speaking, though, a broker is a real estate agent who has continued their education to include the passing of a state real estate broker license exam.

The single biggest benefit for passing a state real estate license exam is that, as a broker, you will now be able to branch away from a real estate agency and instead work as an independent agent. In such a situation, a broker will also be in a position to hire other brokers or real estate agents to work for them.


It may come as a surprise to many, but “realtor” means something specific. This term is probably the most guilty of being used interchangeably with “real estate agent.” Nonetheless, it does have a technical meaning.

Specifically, a realtor is a real estate professional who maintains membership with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to the NAR website, the benefit of membership is that it works with you to provide “members with opportunities and resources to enhance professional skills and maximize earnings.”


We hope that this information has provided a foundation for you to be able to navigate the difficult territory of home-buying. Having an understanding of these different terms can help you decide what kind of professional is most fitting for your needs. To sum up the information above, the following includes the broad differences between each type of real estate professional we explored:

Real Estate Lawyer:

  • Law degree
  • Intimate knowledge of federal, state, and local real estate laws
  • Ability to review contracts
  • Ensures that you can make an informed decision

Real Estate Agent:

  • Passed all local state exams
  • Acquired licensure
  • Works for an agency


  • Moved forward with education
  • Passed state real estate broker license exam
  • Ability to work independently or hire other agents


  • Membership to NAR
  • Memberships affords access to additional real estate resources

With the basics under your belt, it can now be worthwhile to explore our many other resources on real estate. If you are in the New York City or Poughkeepsie area, you can also visit our offices for a consultation. Contact us today for more information.


The primary goal of any good real estate professional — be they real estate lawyers, agents, brokers, or realtors — is to provide you with a quality experience. It is imperative to ensure that everyone involved is informed of the details of the process.

Your needs may fluctuate depending on the specifics of your situation. Nonetheless, speaking and working with knowledgeable professionals makes all the difference in the world. A real estate lawyer can work with you to ensure a thorough understanding of the legal intricacies of your home buying process. Contact the real estate lawyers at the Law Offices of Diron Rutty in New York City and Poughkeepsie to ensure that you have a safe and informed real estate experience.

Don’t hesitate
get in touch today

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.