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Demystifying the Relationship: Why REALTORS in PA Require a Broker and Who Owns the Client




In Pennsylvania (PA), REALTORS are real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. Unlike real estate agents, PA REALTORS must operate under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker. This unique arrangement has both historical and practical reasons that ensure professionalism and ethical conduct within the real estate industry. In this blog post, we'll explore the reasons why REALTORS in PA require a broker and address the question of who owns the client in this relationship.


1. Regulatory Compliance and Professional Oversight:

In Pennsylvania, real estate is a regulated industry, and obtaining a real estate broker's license requires a higher level of education, experience, and responsibility compared to a real estate agent's license. By requiring REALTORS to operate under a licensed broker, the state ensures a higher standard of professional oversight and regulatory compliance in real estate transactions.


2. Enhanced Expertise and Guidance:

A broker typically has more experience and expertise in the real estate field, having gone through the process of obtaining their broker's license. Working under a broker provides REALTORS with valuable guidance, support, and mentorship, helping them navigate complex transactions, legal issues, and ethical challenges. This ensures that clients receive the best possible service and representation.


3. Ethical Accountability:

The Code of Ethics established by the NAR is a cornerstone of the real estate industry. By operating under a licensed broker, REALTORS remain accountable to the ethical standards outlined in the Code. Brokers have a responsibility to oversee their agents' actions, ensuring that clients' interests are protected and that ethical practices are upheld throughout the transaction process.


4. Division of Responsibilities:

In the relationship between a broker and a REALTOR, there is a clear division of responsibilities. The broker assumes legal responsibility for the actions of their affiliated REALTORS, and they are ultimately accountable for the conduct and performance of their team members. The broker also handles administrative tasks, brokerage operations, and maintains compliance with state regulations.


5. The Client's Perspective:

While the broker owns the relationship with the REALTOR, it is essential to understand that the client remains the primary focus and beneficiary of the services provided. The client entrusts their REALTOR to act in their best interest, represent them diligently, and uphold ethical standards throughout the transaction. The REALTOR is the client's advocate, helping them make informed decisions and negotiating on their behalf.



In Pennsylvania, the requirement for REALTORS to operate under a licensed broker is a regulatory measure designed to ensure a high level of professionalism, expertise, and ethical conduct within the real estate industry. Brokers provide valuable oversight, support, and guidance to REALTORS, ultimately benefiting the clients they serve.


While the broker technically owns the relationship with the REALTOR, it is essential to remember that the client is the heart of the real estate transaction. The client's interests remain the top priority, and REALTORS act as dedicated advocates, working diligently to achieve their clients' goals.


By understanding the unique relationship between REALTORS and brokers in Pennsylvania, clients can have confidence in their chosen real estate professional, knowing that they are supported by a network of experienced professionals committed to upholding the highest standards of service, ethics, and expertise.

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