Last updated on April 17th, 2024 at 05:53 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.

Are you finding it hard to differentiate between real estate agents and Realtors?

 Many people use these titles interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. We’ll clearly delineate the roles, responsibilities and benefits of both professions to help you make an informed decision when buying or selling property.

Stick around; there’s more than meets the eye in the world of real estate!

What is a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who sells, buys, or rents residential or commercial properties on behalf of their clients. Typically they will help an owner sell their house or land.

Licensing requirements

Obtaining a real estate license is the first step to becoming an agent. This requires education and passing a state-administered examination

Each US state has unique regulations, but typically, aspiring agents need to be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent degree.

They must complete pre-licensing courses approved by their State Real Estate Commission and pass both national and state licensing exams

Having met these conditions, one becomes officially recognized as a licensed real estate agent, ready to facilitate commercial and residential property transactions legally.

Roles and responsibilities

Real estate agents have important roles and responsibilities when it comes to helping people buy and sell properties. 

They are licensed professionals who assist clients in finding the right commercial or residential property that meets their needs.

Real estate agents also play a crucial role in marketing properties for salenegotiating contracts, and providing guidance throughout the entire buying or selling process. 

Additionally, they help clients understand market trends, pricing strategies, and legal requirements related to real estate transactions.

Ultimately, real estate agents act as trusted advisors to their clients, ensuring a smooth and successful experience in the complex world of real estate.

Realtors share similar roles and responsibilities with real estate agents because all Realtors are licensed professionals as well. 

However, what sets Realtors apart is their commitment to upholding ethical standards set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), along with adhering to its Code of Ethics.

This means that Realtors pledge themselves to honesty, integrity, fair treatment of all parties involved in a transaction, and putting their clients’ interests first. 

With this added level of professionalism and dedication to high ethical standards, working with a Realtor can provide an extra layer of confidence for buyers or sellers in navigating the intricacies of the real estate market.

What is a Realtor

A Realtor is a real estate professional who holds membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and adheres to their Code of Ethics.

Membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

To become a Realtor, a real estate agent must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This professional organization sets ethical standards for its members and provides them with additional resources and benefits.

By joining the NAR, Realtors gain access to educational opportunities and networking events that can help them enhance their skills and grow their professional network. 

Being a member of the NAR demonstrates a commitment to professionalism in the real estate industry

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

Approximately 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’ (NAR) Code of Ethics. 

This code outlines ethical guidelines that Realtors must follow in all aspects of their real estate business.

It ensures that they prioritize honesty, integrity, and professionalism when representing clients and handling transactions. 

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

Realtors demonstrate their commitment to providing top-notch service and protecting the best interests of their clients throughout the entire real estate process.

Key Differences Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor

While the two are often used interchangeably, there are actually some key differences between them. 

Definition and Scope

A real estate agent, also known as a real estate salesperson, is an individual who has obtained a license to represent clients in real estate transactions.

They can work independently or be affiliated with a brokerage firm.

A real estate agent is typically involved in buying, selling, or leasing residential or commercial properties.

On the other hand, a realtor is a real estate agent who is also an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

To become a realtor, an agent must pledge to adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

This means they are held to a higher professional standard and are committed to ethical conduct in all aspects of their business.

Code of Ethics and Professional Standards

The NAR’s Code of Ethics sets forth a strict set of rules and guidelines that realtors must follow.

It outlines obligations towards clients, customers, the public, and fellow realtors.

By adhering to this code, realtors aim to provide the highest level of service to their clients while upholding ethical standards in the real estate industry.

Membership and Benefits

Becoming a realtor involves joining the NAR as an active member, which requires paying membership dues and maintaining good standing with the local association and/or board.

This membership provides realtors with access to various resources, continuing education opportunities, market data, legal protection, and networking events.

Being part of the largest trade association in the real estate industry offers realtors a level of credibility and professionalism.

Professional Designations and Recognition

Realtors can further distinguish themselves by obtaining professional designations awarded by the NAR, such as Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), or Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM).

These designations signify an advanced level of expertise and knowledge in specialized areas of real estate.

Benefits of working with a Realtor

Working with a Realtor offers several benefits. 

  • Realtors have a higher level of professionalism and commitment compared to regular real estate agents. They are bound by the Code of Ethics set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), ensuring that they prioritize their clients’ best interests.
  • Realtors have access to additional resources and benefits through the NAR, such as educational opportunities and networking events. This allows them to stay updated on market trends and provide valuable insights to their clients.
  • Expertise and Knowledge: Realtors have deep knowledge about the real estate market. This includes knowledge of neighborhoods, schools, market conditions, regulations, and taxes.
  • Negotiation Skills: A realtor is trained to negotiate well, which is a process that can often be challenging. They know how to detect problems with a property that could potentially save you a lot of money.
  • 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.
  • Paperwork: Buying or selling a property involves a lot of paperwork. A realtor can handle this on your behalf, ensuring everything is properly filled out and submitted on time.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is managing the process can give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on other aspects of your move or property sale.

Lastly, only Realtors can use the trademarked term “Realtor” in their professional titles, which signifies their membership in an esteemed organization dedicated to maintaining high ethical standards in the industry.

What are the duties of a realtor

  • Client Representation: The primary duty of a realtor is to represent the interests of their clients, either the buyer or the seller, in real estate transactions.
  • Property Valuation: Realtors help in estimating the appropriate price of a property based on a variety of factors including market trends, condition of the house, and location.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Realtors use multiple platforms to advertise and market the properties. This includes online listings, social media, print advertising, and open houses among others.
  • Negotiation: They negotiate offers and counteroffers between the buyer and the seller to ensure a smooth transaction.
  • Facilitating Inspections and Appraisals: Realtors help arrange for home inspections and appraisals, and ensure any necessary repairs are done before closing the deal.
  • Nuanced Understanding of Contracts: Realtors understand real estate contracts and can guide clients through the process or buying and selling, explaining clauses, contingencies, and other legal terms.
  • Coordination of Closing Process: Upon acceptance of an offer, a realtor will coordinate all aspects of the closing process, which includes handling necessary paperwork, coordinating with the closing agent, and ensuring all parties are prepared for the closing date.

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, you must meet certain education and training requirements. These vary by state, but typically involve completing a pre-licensing course and passing a licensing exam.

The courses cover topics such as real estate principlescontractsproperty management, and finance. After obtaining your license, continuing education may be required to maintain your status as an active agent.

It’s important to check with your state’s real estate licensing board for specific requirements in your area. 

By fulfilling these education and training requirements, aspiring agents can gain the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complex world of real estate transactions effectively.

In addition to formal education, practical experience is also crucial for becoming a successful real estate agent. 

Many agents start their careers by working under the supervision of experienced brokers or mentors.

This hands-on training allows them to learn about different aspects of the industry while honing their negotiation and marketing skills. 

Building relationships with clients and networking within the industry are also essential components of an agent’s development.

Realtor Professional Organizations

In the real estate industry, there are several professional organizations that bring together practitioners and set standards for ethical conduct and professional practice.

These organizations help maintain the integrity of the profession and ensure that real estate agents and brokers adhere to a code of ethics while serving their clients. Let’s explore some of the prominent realtor professional organizations:

National Association of Realtors (NAR): The NAR is the largest trade association in the real estate industry, representing over 1.4 million members. Its primary focus is to provide support and resources to real estate professionals, promote homeownership, and advocate for legislative policies that benefit the industry.

NAR members are typically real estate agents and brokers who have chosen to be part of this influential organization.

Local Association of Realtors: These are regional or local branches of the NAR that operate at the local level.

Local associations play a crucial role in fostering community engagement, promoting networking opportunities, and providing educational resources for their members. 

They also enforce the NAR’s code of ethics and handle disciplinary actions when necessary.

Local Real Estate Boards: Local real estate boards are regulatory bodies that oversee real estate transactions within a specific geographic area.

They ensure compliance with state and federal laws, maintain the integrity of the local market, and handle complaints or disputes related to real estate transactions. 

Being a member of the local board often requires agents and brokers to be active members of the NAR.

State Associations: Each state has its own real estate association, which works in partnership with the NAR and local boards.

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

They also play a vital role in supporting local associations and ensuring consistency in professional standards across the 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.

Its not impossible to sell your house on your own without a realtor and avoid the fees.