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Provisional Broker, Broker, Broker-in-charge, and Real Estate Agent: Understanding the Differences


In North Carolina, the real estate industry has specific licensing levels and roles that dictate the scope of activities a professional can perform in the real estate market. The terms "Provisional Broker," "Broker," "Broker-in-Charge," and "Real Estate Agent" refer to these various levels and roles. Here's a breakdown of each:

Provisional Broker:

  • A Provisional Broker is an entry-level licensing status in North Carolina for real estate professionals.

  • Individuals at this level have passed the real estate licensing course and state exam but must operate under the supervision of a Broker-in-Charge or a fully licensed Broker.

  • Provisional Brokers are required to complete additional post-licensing education to remove the "provisional" status from their license and advance to the full "Broker" status. This education needs to be completed within a specific timeframe after licensing.


  • A fully licensed real estate professional who has completed the necessary education and post-licensing requirements to remove the provisional status.

  • Brokers can perform real estate transactions independently but may choose to work under a Broker-in-Charge for business reasons or to access brokerage resources.

  • This status indicates a higher level of experience and education than a Provisional Broker.

Broker-in-Charge (BIC):

  • A Broker-in-Charge is a Broker who has taken additional training and met specific requirements to supervise a real estate office or a group of agents/brokers.

  • The BIC is responsible for ensuring that the brokerage and its agents comply with state real estate laws and regulations.

  • This role includes administrative duties, such as managing trust accounts, overseeing transactions, and ensuring the proper handling of client funds and documentation.

Real Estate Agent:

  • This term is often used interchangeably with "real estate broker" in many parts of the United States. However, in North Carolina, a real estate agent who is licensed is typically referred to as a "Broker" or "Provisional Broker," depending on their level of licensure and experience.

  • "Real Estate Agent" is a general term that encompasses anyone engaged in the real estate profession who assists clients in buying, selling, renting, or leasing property.

Each of these roles plays a vital part in the real estate industry in North Carolina, with specific duties, responsibilities, and requirements defined by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC). The progression from a Provisional Broker to a Broker, and potentially to a Broker-in-Charge, represents a path of increasing responsibility, expertise, and trust in the real estate profession.


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