HomeBanking & FinanceReal Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What's the Difference?

Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What’s the Difference?

Both are licensed, but a Realtor has gone one step further
Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What's the Difference?
Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What’s the Difference?

People use the terms Realtor and real estate agent interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Both must be licensed to sell real estate, but there are some important distinctions. Not every real estate agent is a Realtor.

What’s the Difference Between a Realtor and an Agent?

  • Realtors Must pass agent licensing requirements in their state While Real Estate Agents Must pass agent licensing requirements in their state
  • Realtors Must additionally pass the NAR Code of Ethics course While Real Estate Agents Aren’t subject to additional requirements.
  • Realtors Are members of the National Association of Realtors members While Real Estate Agents Are not NAR members.

A real estate agent has obtained a state license to assist consumers in buying or selling properties. Realtors are agents who have gone one step further—they’ve also become members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Requirements for Realtors

A Realtor can be a real estate agent, a broker-associate, a managing broker, or an exclusive buyer’s agent, and this is just the beginning of the list. What sets them apart is that they must subscribe to the Realtor Code of Ethics for membership, and this includes 17 separate articles that contain various underlying Standards of Practice.

The NAR Code of Ethics

The NAR Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913 and is strictly enforced by local real estate boards. It’s not just a bunch of rules that agents swear to uphold and adhere to because their brokers made them join the Association. The standards are much more restrictive and confining than the state guidelines that govern agents.

There’s no evidence that all Realtors are morally or ethically “better” than unaffiliated real estate agents, but the Code of Ethics is an attempt by the industry to regulate them. Even non-NAR “real estate agents” are held to the same legal standard.

Does a real estate agent need to have a college degree or to have taken college courses?

A college degree is not required to become a real estate agent, but agents are required to take a certain number of courses according to the laws in the state where they reside and plan on working.

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