I cringe whenever someone calls me a Realtor. Technically a Realtor must be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an organization composed primarily of residential real estate agents. I am not a member of NAR, although I am a member of the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors (NTCAR). However, NTCAR members do not refer to themselves as Realtors.

Eliza Solender

What bothers me is that the person calling me a Realtor clearly does not see the difference between a residential or commercial real estate professional. Those of us who specialize in commercial real estate know there is a huge difference!

Likewise, I also have a problem with commercial real estate professionals who call themselves “brokers,” when they only have a real estate salesperson license. Although this may not seem like a big deal to many people, it is important. Those of us who have a Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) broker’s license must have at least four years of active experience as a licensed real estate salesperson, and under new TREC rules, applicants for a broker’s license must demonstrate 3,600 points of qualifying practical experience during four out of five years, plus take 270 classroom hours of core real estate course that include 30 classroom hours in a Real Estate Brokerage course.

TREC also requires an additional 630 classroom hours in related or core courses acceptable to the commission. Thankfully, some of those may be met with college courses. In addition, there is a big difference in renewal fees: a salesperson is $157.50 and a broker is $558.50. (Details about obtaining a broker’s license can be obtained at the Texas Real Estate Commission website www.trec.texas.gov.)

At the risk of overkill with all this information, another major difference is that brokers who supervise salespersons and other brokers or are the broker for a business entity have to take an additional six hour Broker Responsibility Course and pay an additional fee of $126.

Clearly, there is a major difference between brokers and salespersons in license requirements and fees. There are many very experienced salespersons in our commercial real estate community. However, unless they are a licensed broker, they should not casually refer to themselves as someone’s broker.

With all this being said, when I am asked for career advice by a commercial real estate professional, I almost always recommend he or she get their broker’s license, even if they never intend to have their own company. It is a big investment in their careers, both in time and money. I usually point out that you never know what might happen, and having the flexibility to be on your own, even for a short period, could prove very valuable. Overall, I believe the license adds credibility to commercial real estate professionals and might be a critical factor in their ability to rise to a senior management position in their company by serving as the company’s designated broker.

So my advice is to get that broker’s license as soon as possible—before TREC makes it any more difficult. And if you are in commercial real estate, never call yourself a Realtor.

Eliza Solender is president of Solender/Hall Inc., a commercial real estate and consulting firm. Contact her at eliza@solenderhall.com.

This article was originally posted in DMagazine Commercial Real Estate