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For me in California, you need two years as a Realtor within the last five calendar years. You need to take several courses and pass an exam. The rumor mill states that next year there will also be a Master's Degree requirement of some kind.
The main benefits out here are that Realtors MUST work for a broker and cannot be "independent." They also may only work for ONE company at a time. A Broker can market themselves as an independent entity, does not need to be under or employed by anyone and may work for multiple companies at once (for example their own company and traditional brokerage). I can't think of anyone doing that here, but it is possible
I recommend checking out the rules and regulations of your state and the requirements to become a broker in your state.
In my view, the Broker designation will do more for you than any certification. That is why I am pursuing it (when the time comes) instead of certifications that (in my view) no client will understand.
I have been an independent broker since 2007 and would not have it any other way. The REAL adantage is that I don't have to share my commission!
The licensing requirements vary from state to state. It is not a matter of broker versus realtor. You join NAR to become a Realtor.
You need to be a sales representative for two years before you can become a broker. It is a legal requirement to be licensed as a sales representative or a broker in order to trade in real estate. You cannot be a REALTOR without being licensed. There is no requirement to be a REALTOR, however, without being a REALTOR, you cannot have access to the MLS.
Hours and education, years of experience are going to vary from state to state and you need to check with your licensing authority. Does it matter ? We come from the "no such thing as tooooo much education" school...and we do think it does matter to some people...and has helped us in our practice.
I dont see an advantage.
All brokers here are also Realtors.
I find it better to have someone else handle the broker duties while I concentrate on my part of the business.
Being a broker establishes one in the marketplace.
@Ryan Huggins has provided an excellent answer.
Lisa Brown - shows your commitment to this business if you are a BROKER. And yes, you can own a brokerage if you are a broker (at least for MA).
It would depend on what your state requires. I think it give you creditability that a GRI, ABR, etc would give the general public.
The answer to your question depends on what state you are in. Each state determines qualifications to earn a broker's license. Here in NC, we are an all-broker state, so when you first get your license you are known as a provisional broker and have 2 years to complete an additional 60 hours of classwork to become a full broker. No choice here. But you can be a Realtor whether you are a broker or not. Are you confusing being a Realtor with having a sales person's license?
Here in Arkansas you must take a 60 hour class and then test for your broker license. I'm glad I took it before that rule came into place.