Brokers vs. Agents

I have noticed that brokers (like Doug, who is out of town, and unable to defend himself) are always very careful never to confuse the words "agent" and "broker."

They are not the same thing. When someone e-mailed a question along those lines, I looked it up. According to Home Buying for Dummies, by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown:

Every state issues two kinds of real estate licenses: a salesperson’s license and a broker’s license. People with broker’s licenses must satisfy much tougher educational and experience standards. If your real estate agent is not an independent broker or the broker for a real estate office, he (or she) must be supervised by a broker who is responsible for everything that your agent does or fails to do. In a crisis, your transaction’s success may depend on backup support from your agent’s broker.

You know what that makes me think about? This recent post about real estate fraud. If you read the post and the comments, you’ll see there is interesting discussion about the merits of strict barriers to entry as a way of weeding out potential fraudsters out of the real estate profession. Would tougher certification requirements for agents improve the industry’s performance and reputation?

Seems like an imperfect, but handy "back of the cocktail napkin" way to guage that would be to examine the records of brokers vs. agents. With all that education and experience, do brokers tend to be roped into shady business practices at a similar rate as agents? Are they better? Worse? Anybody know?

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