Real estate agents, Realtors, and Brokers

Even though realtors, brokers, real estate agents are often used differently, there are subtle differences. A short summary is listed below, but you can learn more about the differences here.

1) Real estate agents are licensed to help people buy, sell, and rent real estate and must work for a sponsoring broker or brokerage firm.
2) Brokers have additional training and licensing requirements and can work independently or hire other real estate agents to work for them.
3) A realtor is a licensed real estate agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Note: Only someone that is licensed can charge a realtor/broker fee in MA. You can look up licenses here.


Landlords are individuals that physically own the property. They often utilize agents to rent and manage their property. Landlords set the lease terms such as guests, pets, and trash and all associated fee amounts for violations.

You can see who the landlord of a property in Boston is here.

Note: A landlord cannot charged a realtor/broker fee unless they are licensed. You can look up licenses here.

Property Managers

Property Managers are similar to landlords except that they are a business. They often own entire buildings and have more common area amenities offered to tenants. Renting from a property manager often does not have a realtor/broker fee, but may have a higher rental cost.

You can see the property manager of a unit in Boston here.

Homestay Hosts

Homestays are a form of lodging where visitors share a residence with a local of the area host. The length of stay can vary from one night to over a year and is usually provided at a discount in exchange for chores on the premises. There may also be limitations to guests, kitchen usage, and anything else that is negotiated in the contract. Homestays often look for graduate students.

Browse lists of Homestays on our Temporary Housing page.


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