Last updated on June 18th, 2024 at 05:22 am

Quick Answer

  •  Not all real estate agents are Realtors. Realtors are real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

A symbolic representation of a successful home purchase through a realtor.

Confused between real estate agents and Realtors

Most people use the terms interchangeably, but that’s not precisely the case.

We’re going to clearly define how both work, what the job description entails, and the benefits so that you’re better equipped with what you need to know to make an informed decision if you ever wish to buy or sell property.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to real estate!

What is a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a person who can legally sell, buy, or rent either residential or commercial property on behalf of his clients. 

They hold a license in their state to represent buyers and seller and can transact real estate transactions.

They can assist all house or landowner in selling their property.

Licensing requirements

The first step in becoming an agent is obtaining a real estate license.

To achieve this, one must take education and pass a state-administered examination.

Regulations vary across different US states, but in general, the aspiring agent should be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or an equivalent degree.

They are required to complete State Real Estate Commission-approved education hours of pre-licensing courses and pass the national licensing exams as well as that of the respective state.

Having met these conditions, one gets registered as a licensed real estate agent, now eligible to broker commercial and residential property transactions lawfully.

Roles and responsibilities

Real estate agents play major roles and responsibilities in a mission of ensuring that people acquire properties of their choice in buying and selling.

These are licensed individuals who help their clients locate and identify the ideal commercial or residential property that suits their needs.

Real estate agents also play a major role in the marketing of properties that are up for selling, in contracts negotiations, and in offering advice throughout the entire process, whether buying or selling.

They also understand market trends, pricing strategies, and the legal requirements while transacting real estate.

Eventually, real estate agents play the role of counsellors and advisors to the clients and help them enjoy a smooth and a very successful experience in the world of real estates transactions.

Realtors have almost the same roles and responsibilities compared to a real estate agent because all realtors are also real estate agents


What is Realtor


A Realtor is real estate professional who belongs to National Association of Realtors by virtue as a member accepts NARs Code of Ethics.

They must adhere to these ethical principles.

That means a Realtor commits himself or herself to honesty, integrity, fair treatment for both parties in a transaction, and to protecting his or her client’s interest.

With this added layer of professionalism and commitment to the highest of ethical standard practices, working with a Realtor can further increase buyers’ or sellers’ confidence with respect to navigating infinite complexities associated with the real estate market.

Membership in National Association Realtors (NAR)

Any licensed real estate agent can join the National Association of Realtors.

This is an association that brings in a set of ethical standards for all its members.

They also have many other resources and even benefits.

The NAR offers Realtors an opportunity to get educational opportunities.

These normally include networking events that may help them either improve their skills or expand their professional network.

Membership in the NAR is more about one’s commitment to professionalism in real estate.

A realtor will also have access to the local MLS thereby allowing them to view all the listings in a certain market. 

About 54% of real estate agents in the United States are Realtors. (Source: National Association of Realtors)

Code of Ethics

Realtors are held to a high standard through their adherence to the National Association of Realtors’, or NAR’s, Code of Ethics.

This code lays down guidelines of ethical nature that all Realtors must adhere to while conducting their real estate business in every respect.

It guarantees they exercise honesty, integrity, and professionalism when they represent their clients and conduct a transaction. 

The Code of Ethics also discusses such matters as fair housing practices, confidentiality, and disclosure requirements.

Realtors pledge through the Code of Ethics to provide the highest level of service, and protection of the best interests of their clients in the entire real estate experience.

Key Differences Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor

Many times, the two terms can be confusing, yet there actually are some key differences between them. 

Definition and Scope

A real estate agent, otherwise known as a real estate salesperson, is a person who has gotten a license to represent clients in real estate transactions.

He can work on his own or be associated with a brokerage firm.

An agent is generally involved in the buying or selling, or leasing of some residential or commercial properties.

On the other hand, a realtor is a real estate agent who is engaged as an active member of NAR- National Association of Realtors.

To be a realtor, an agent has to take an oath to conform to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of NAR.

Code of Ethics and Professional Standards

The NAR Code of Ethics provides a strong framework of regulations and guidelines which realtors must abide by.

It outlines responsibilities to clients, customers, the public, and other realtors.

By adopting this code, realtors ensure their clients a maximum level of service  with values within the entire real estate fraternity.

Membership and Benefits

Remember any real estate agent seeking to join the realtors group has to enroll with NAR as an active member with a yearly fee charged in membership. 

One has to pay it alongside time to ensure one’s good standing with both local association and/or board.

This membership provides a lot of resources, continuing education, market data, and legal protection, as well as networking events.

Being part of the largest trade association in real estate gives the realtor a level of credibility and professionalism.

Professional Designations and Recognition

Realtors can distinguish themselves further by obtaining professional designations like the NAR-like Certified Residential Specialist or CRS; the Accredited Buyer’s Representative or ABR; or Certified Commercial Investment Member or CCIM.

These designations signify a higher learning and expertise in specialized areas of real estate.

Advantages of working with a Realtor

There are many advantages to working with a Realtor. 

Knowledge and Skills: They have abundant knowledge of real estate. This includes knowledge of neighborhoods and schools, conditions and laws governing the market, and also taxation.

Negotiation Skills: Realtors knows how to negotiate, mostly an uphill task.

Sniffing out problems in a property might help you save thousands of dollars.

Connections: They have contacts with reliable contractors, home inspectors, painters, and interior designers. They also may have potential buyers lined up or know others who might be interested.

Some have potential buyers lined up to purchase certain types of houses.

Peace of Mind: The process will be managed by a professional; this means that you are going to be able to be at peace knowing that things are taking care of.

Finally, only Realtors can use the trademarked name “Realtor” in their titles, thus identifying themselves as part of this highly regarded group that has undertaken to uphold high standards of ethics in the line of the given business.

How to Become a RE Agent

To become a real estate agent, individuals must complete the necessary education and training requirements, as well as undergo the licensing process set by their state.

Education and training requirements

To become a real estate agent one has certain education and training requirements, although these vary by state they typically include completing a pre-licensing course and passing a licensing exam.

Courses often include material on real estate principles, contracts, property management, and finance.

Once one is licensed, continuing education is oftentimes required in order that one remains an active agent.

It is always best to check with your state’s real estate licensing board for the requirements in your area.

By finishing or passing these education and training requirements, aspiring agents will then be equipped with the knowledge and the skills necessary to survive on their own in this complicated world of real estate transactions.

Aside from formal education, experience is also an essential ingredient when it comes to being a capable real estate agent. 

Most agents start life working under the wing of experienced brokers or mentors.

For example, this practical training makes them acquainted with every single thing of the industry.

In addition to that, they develop negotiation skills along with more specific marketing skills.

The other aspects of professional development of an agent would be build up relationships with the clients and network building in the industry.

Professional Organizations of Realtors

There are several types of professional organizations in the real estate industry.

These organizations gather into one pool the practitioners, put definition standards for ethical conduct and professional practice.

These organizations help to maintain the integrity of the profession by ensuring all real estate agents or brokers operate by a code of ethics while acting on behalf of their clients. Some of the major realtor professional bodies include:

National Association of Realtors (NAR): This is the largest trade association in this industry, with membership of over 1.4 million.

The organization’s focus is on support and resources provision to real estate professionals, enabling people to become homeowners, and advocating legislative policies beneficial to this industry in general.

Members of NAR are basically real estate agents and brokers who have chosen to be members of this already very powerful body.

They are the local or regional branches of NAR which act at the local level. Local Association of Realtors

Locals associations promote, above all, community involvement, networking opportunities, and education for their members. 

They also enforce the NAR Code of Ethics, to which all members must subscribe, and administer disciplinary procedures if a member is found in violation.

Local Real Estate Boards: These are self-regulatory bodies charged with the responsibility of regulates real estate transaction in a particular geographical area.

They ensure operation in concert with the set state and federal laws; they also enforce honesty in the local market and address any complains arising in real estate transactions.  

Mostly, agents and brokers need to be active participants in the NAR to be active members of the local board.

State Associations: These are associations present in every state and exist in conjunction with the NAR and local boards.

State associations provide loads of resources, training programs, and legislative advocacy tailored to meet the specific needs of real estate practitioners in that specific state. 

These associations also coordinate the support locally operational associations and uniformity in standards of professionalism within a State.

Final Thoughts

While all Realtors are real estate agentsnot all real estate agents are Realtors.

Understanding the difference between the two is crucial when selecting someone to navigate the complexities of a real estate transaction.

Whether you choose a Realtor or a real estate agent depends on your specific needs and preferences.

It’s not impossible to sell your house on your own without a realtor and avoid the fees

We buy houses in Houston, TX and many cities in Texas.