What is the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor?
Sep 06, 2022
Perhaps one of the biggest stress-relievers in the home buying process is knowing that a real estate agent or a Realtor® will have your back throughout.
It may come as no surprise, but these terms are often used interchangeably in the housing market. “Do you have an agent?”, or “We can refer you to a realtor”, or “If you’re going to buy a house, you better work with a real estate agent”.
Do they mean the same thing?
Short answer – No. Although each agent is licensed to sell real estate, each title refers to a specific type of real estate professional, and there are some notable distinctions.
But the question remains, why are they used interchangeably if they mean different things?
Simply put, because the term “real estate agent” can be wordy, people use the term “Realtor®” as a shorthand, to refer to anyone who is in the business of helping others buy and sell real estate.
If you are curious enough to understand how a real estate agent is different from a Realtor®, read on. In this article, we will uncover the truth behind what separates one agent from the other.
- A real estate agent is anyone who is licensed to help people buy and sell commercial or residential properties. Agents can be sales professionals or brokers.
- A Realtor® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
- NAR members follow strict ethical standards. Violations to the NAR’s code of ethics results in members being disbanded from the association.
- Realtors® can take advantage of business tools and educational opportunities as well as access to detailed market data, such as viewing properties that are not yet listed on public websites.
What is a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent is anyone who is licensed to help people buy and sell commercial or residential properties. Agents can be sales professionals or brokers.
How do you become a Real Estate Agent?
For an agent to receive a license, they must sign up for the required courses, and complete between 30 to 90 hours of coursework. They must pass state examinations and may need to renew their license every one to two years, depending on the state in which they were licensed.
What is a Realtor®?
A Realtor® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – known for being the largest professional association in the world. Realtors may also be sales professionals, brokers, property managers, appraisers, real estate counselors, and others in the real estate industry.
Headquartered in Chicago, NAR has approximately 1.3 million members, who operate in 1,200 local associations and 54 states. The association obtained a copyright for the term Realtor® to differentiate its members. NAR has previously faced legal challenges due to using a generic term as its trademark.
Why Does the Distinction Matter?
- Membership Requirements: Interested to become a NAR member? You will need a valid real estate license, no record of official sanctions, and no pending bankruptcy. For more details visit NAR’s website.
- Code of Ethics: NAR members follow strict ethical standards which include duties to protect and promote their client's interests, the public, and fellow Realtors®. Violations to the NAR’s code of ethics results in members being disbanded from the association.
- Expanded Industry Knowledge: As far as knowledge is concerned, Realtors® are ahead of their counterpart. They can take advantage of business tools and educational opportunities as well as have access to detailed market data, such as viewing properties that are not yet listed on public websites.
With the distinction between a real estate agent and a realtor established, moving forward you should be able to make a more informed decision on who to ask for help when searching for your dream home. Remember that Premier Lending can always refer you to an agent if you do not find one yourself!
About the Author
Qais Hudhud is a copywriter and technology specialist at Premier Lending. For two years, Qais wrote articles that touched on banking and microfinance institutions. Later graduated into mortgages, where he worked alongside industry experts with over 11 years of experience in helping homeowners from the west coast to the east coast, achieve their dreams.