In the world of real estate, there are brokers, salespersons, realtors, real estate agents, and more. If you’ve ever bought a property, you must have heard “realtor” and “real estate agent” used interchangeably. It makes you wonder what they mean, and if they are synonymous.
Well, we are here to tell you that they are not. Granted, they are similar in meaning. However, there is one key difference between the two which we explain in this post. Keep reading to find out.
Learn more: Real Estate Agents: 8 Important Qualities
What’s the Difference?
Realtors and real estate agents both assist the public in the buying and selling of properties. To do this, they must, first, take state-approved courses, apply for, and pass the state’s licensing exam to obtain a state license. This serves as a legal permit. They must also obtain this permit to conduct business legally. However, realtors go one step further by becoming members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
What’s The NAR?
The NAR is a trade association operating in the U.S. (one of the largest in fact!) and the word “Realtor®” is a trademarked name. A realtor is anyone who has met the standards of the NAR and adheres to their code of ethics. This NAR approval stamp is the major distinguishing factor between a realtor and a real estate agent.
The code of ethics in the NAR is strictly enforced by local real estate boards. Real estate agents who wish to become realtors must swear to uphold this code at all times. Defaulting members are usually met with stringent consequences. This code of ethics is much more restrictive than the state’s guidelines which real estate agents are bound by.
NAR’s code of ethics aims to regulate the industry and set it up to a standard. Regardless, being a realtor doesn’t automatically make you more qualified or “better” for a job than a real estate agent. As a matter of practice, every estate agent is held to the same legal standard.
There are 17 articles or laws realtors swear by. The most important one is putting the client’s interests above personal ones but that’s already expected of anyone who’s helping the public to buy or sell properties. So, what’s in a name? Anyone can become a realtor, what’s truly important is your actions and the trust you build over time with clients. That, along with several important qualities, will make you a truly exceptional agent.
Most real estate agents aren’t members of the NAR not because they can’t be, but because they probably don’t get enough business to justify being a member and making all the expenses that come with it.
So, there you have it. The key difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is a trademarked title. Whether your agent has got that title or not really shouldn’t affect your choice of council. Focus, instead, on their track record and what previous clients say about them. The truth is in the numbers, not the title.
Having trouble finding a trustworthy agent? Reach out via call or email to Ashley Lyon, Kent County’s agent.