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A real estate broker is a professional who helps sellers sell a property — an intermediary between buyers and sellers. In the United Kingdom, this person is also known as an estate agent. The broker represents the buyer, but does not have power of attorney or the right to make important decisions on the client's behalf.
Real estate agents are salespeople who assist the broker in the selling process. While it is possible for a real estate broker to represent the buyer by signing a special agreement, most work exclusively with sellers.
A license is required to act as a real estate broker in most places. This is especially important if money will exchange hands and if there are agents working under the supervision of the broker. Unlicensed activity is usually not permitted unless the buyer is acting as his own broker, in which case there is no need for any further paperwork. To obtain a license in the US, a person has first to be accredited as a real estate agent, and then take a 90-hour course and pass an exam on real estate law.
A real estate broker can provide a number of different services, such as providing a market analysis of the home's value or a property appraisal, preparing documents, consulting and guiding the seller, and supervising real estate auctions. In addition, he or she helps with the listing and advertising of the property, negotiating price, and drafting closing records. It's also possible for a broker to provide help with loans and financing, and to organize "open houses" to showcase the property.
The broker makes money on commission, generally 5 to 7% of the final selling price of the property. Flat fees are also an option, but not a popular one in most places. Working on commission usually means higher property prices, as the real estate broker will try to get the most for his or her work. This can either benefit or harm the seller, as a pricey property may take longer to sell.