If you’re considering buying or selling a property, you may be wondering about the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent. While both terms are often used interchangeably, there are important distinctions between the two. Understanding these differences can help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a professional to assist you with your real estate transaction.
One of the main differences between a Realtor and a real estate agent is that all Realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors. Confused? Let us explain. A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become a member of the NAR, an agent must adhere to a strict code of ethics and undergo additional training.
On the other hand, a real estate agent is someone who is licensed to sell properties, but is not necessarily a member of the NAR. While both professionals can help you buy or sell a property, there are some key differences between them. In this article, we will explore these differences in depth and help you make an informed decision.
So, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned investor, read on to learn everything you need to know about Realtors and real estate agents. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the differences between the two and be able to make an informed decision when it comes to buying or selling your next property.
What is a Realtor?
If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, you’ve likely come across the terms “realtor” and “real estate agent”. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences to keep in mind. Simply put, a realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Being a member of NAR means that the real estate agent has agreed to abide by a certain code of ethics and conduct. This code of ethics includes duties such as putting their client’s interests above their own, being transparent and honest in all communications, and avoiding exaggeration or misrepresentation of any property’s features or condition.
While not all real estate agents are realtors, all realtors are licensed real estate agents who have completed additional training and have agreed to a higher standard of conduct. To use the title of “realtor”, an agent must be a member of their local association of realtors and have paid the necessary fees.
Another key difference between realtors and real estate agents is that realtors have access to additional resources and benefits. For example, realtors have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of all properties listed for sale in a given area. This can be a valuable tool for both buyers and sellers.
Ultimately, choosing to work with a realtor or a real estate agent comes down to personal preference. While realtors have agreed to a higher standard of conduct, both realtors and real estate agents can be competent and effective in their roles. It’s important to do your research and choose an agent who you feel comfortable working with and who has a proven track record of success in your local market.
The Definition of a Realtor
A Realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. The NAR is the largest trade association in the United States, with over 1.4 million members.
To become a Realtor, an individual must be licensed to sell real estate in their state and must adhere to the NAR’s strict code of ethics. This code includes 17 articles that cover a range of topics, including fiduciary duties, fair housing laws, and professional conduct.
Realtors are held to a higher standard than other real estate professionals because of their commitment to the NAR’s code of ethics. This commitment means that Realtors are expected to act with integrity and honesty in all of their business dealings.
What is a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who represents buyers and/or sellers in real estate transactions. Real estate agents work with clients to help them buy, sell, or rent properties, and they are paid a commission based on the final sale price of a property.
Real estate agents are typically independent contractors who work under a licensed real estate broker. They are responsible for finding properties that meet their clients’ needs and budget, scheduling property showings, negotiating offers and counteroffers, and guiding clients through the closing process.
To become a real estate agent, an individual must complete pre-licensing education, pass a state licensing exam, and maintain their license by taking continuing education courses. In addition, real estate agents must adhere to ethical and legal standards set by their state’s real estate regulatory authority and the National Association of Realtors.
Real estate agents may work with residential or commercial properties, or both. They may specialize in a particular type of property, such as luxury homes, or a particular area, such as a specific neighborhood or city.
Real estate agents must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as they work closely with clients and other professionals in the real estate industry, such as attorneys, lenders, and inspectors. They must also be knowledgeable about local real estate market trends and regulations, as well as financing options for buyers.
The Role of a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. They serve as intermediaries between buyers and sellers, and work to ensure a smooth transaction. Real estate agents may work for a brokerage or as an independent contractor. Their main duties include:
- Assisting with property showings: Agents arrange and conduct property showings for potential buyers, and work with sellers to ensure the property is ready to show.
- Marketing properties: Agents develop marketing strategies to promote properties for sale or rent, and may use various advertising and social media channels to reach potential clients.
- Negotiating deals: Agents negotiate the terms of the sale or lease on behalf of their clients, and work to ensure a fair and favorable outcome for all parties involved.
- Providing market insights: Agents offer clients valuable insights into the local real estate market, including pricing trends, property values, and market conditions that may impact their buying or selling decisions.
- Handling paperwork: Agents prepare and review legal documents and contracts, and work to ensure all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and on time.
Overall, the role of a real estate agent is to help clients navigate the complex process of buying, selling, or renting a property, and to provide expert guidance and support throughout the transaction.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent
Aspiring real estate agents need to meet certain requirements to become licensed. Here are the steps to become a licensed real estate agent:
- Educational Requirements: Most states require completing pre-licensing education, which ranges from 40-200 hours of coursework, depending on the state.
- Licensing Exam: After completing the pre-licensing education, the next step is to pass the licensing exam. The exam covers federal and state real estate laws, property ownership, transfers, titles, liens, and more.
- Background Check: Applicants for a real estate license are required to undergo a background check to ensure they have not committed any crimes or unethical behavior.
- Experience: Some states may require candidates to have a certain amount of experience working as a real estate agent or completing additional training.
- Licensure Application: The final step is to submit a licensure application and pay the required fee.
After becoming a licensed real estate agent, one must adhere to the state’s continuing education requirements to keep their license active. This involves completing a certain number of hours of coursework every year or every few years, depending on the state.
Becoming a successful real estate agent requires a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills, a vast network, and a deep understanding of the local real estate market. It can be a rewarding career for those who are willing to put in the effort and time.
What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?
Assist buyers and sellers: One of the main responsibilities of a real estate agent is to help buyers and sellers through the process of buying and selling properties. They assist with everything from finding suitable properties to negotiating deals and closing contracts.
Market properties: Real estate agents work to market properties for their clients. They help to create listings, promote properties, and organize open houses to attract potential buyers. They may also use various marketing techniques to increase visibility and attract more buyers.
Provide advice and guidance: Real estate agents provide advice and guidance to their clients throughout the buying and selling process. They may offer recommendations on pricing, home improvements, and staging to help sellers get the best possible price for their property, and help buyers make informed decisions about their purchase.
Navigate legal requirements: Real estate agents have a solid understanding of the legal requirements surrounding buying and selling property. They can help their clients navigate complex legal documents and ensure that all necessary paperwork is in order.
Stay up-to-date: Successful real estate agents stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and changes in the housing market. They use this knowledge to provide valuable insights to their clients and help them make informed decisions.
What is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?
While the terms Realtor and real estate agent are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. The primary difference is that a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a professional organization that requires members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice.
In addition to being a member of the NAR, a Realtor must also be licensed in their state to sell real estate. Real estate agents, on the other hand, may or may not be members of the NAR and may or may not be licensed to sell real estate.
Another key difference between Realtors and real estate agents is that only Realtors have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database of properties for sale that is used by real estate professionals to share information about available properties. This means that if you work with a Realtor, you will have access to a wider range of properties for sale than you would if you worked with a non-member agent.
The Key Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent
The main difference between a realtor and a real estate agent is that a realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and subscribes to their Code of Ethics, while a real estate agent is not required to be a member of the NAR.
The NAR is the largest professional organization of real estate agents in the United States, with over 1.4 million members. It requires members to follow a strict Code of Ethics that outlines standards of professionalism, conduct, and ethical behavior in real estate transactions.
While both realtors and real estate agents are licensed to sell real estate, only realtors can call themselves realtors and use the trademarked term “REALTOR®”.
Why Would You Choose a Realtor Over a Real Estate Agent?
Experience: Realtors typically have more experience than real estate agents. They have to pass additional training and are held to a higher ethical standard. This experience means that they have a better understanding of the market and are better equipped to help you navigate the buying or selling process.
Network: Realtors often have a larger network than real estate agents. They have connections with other professionals in the industry, such as lenders and home inspectors, that can be valuable resources for their clients. This network can help them find the right home for buyers or find the right buyers for sellers.
Code of Ethics: Realtors are held to a strict code of ethics that requires them to put their clients’ interests first. They must also be transparent and honest in their dealings. This means that you can trust that a Realtor is working for your best interests and not just trying to make a quick sale.
Are All Realtors Members of the National Association of Realtors?
Realtor membership is not a requirement for a real estate agent to practice in a particular state. However, not all real estate agents are Realtors. Only those who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and adhere to its code of ethics can call themselves Realtors.
The NAR is the largest trade association for the real estate industry in the United States. It has a membership of over 1.4 million real estate professionals, including Realtors, who have access to a range of benefits, such as education and training programs, legal services, and market data.
While becoming a Realtor is not mandatory, it can be beneficial for a real estate agent’s career. Being a member of the NAR shows a commitment to professionalism and high ethical standards. It also provides access to a vast network of industry professionals and resources that can help agents build their business and improve their skills.
It’s worth noting that even if an agent is not a Realtor, they are still bound by the state and federal laws that regulate the real estate industry. However, the NAR Code of Ethics provides additional guidelines and standards that can help ensure a higher level of professionalism and integrity in real estate transactions.
Membership in the National Association of Realtors
NAR Membership is not mandatory for a real estate agent or broker to operate, but many choose to join the association. The NAR is the largest trade organization for real estate professionals, boasting over 1.4 million members in the U.S.
To become a member, an individual must be licensed to practice real estate and must pay the membership dues. Additionally, they must adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which outlines standards for professionalism and conduct in real estate transactions.
Benefits of NAR membership include access to educational resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy efforts on behalf of the real estate industry. Members may also use the trademarked term “REALTOR®” in their marketing materials.
Not all real estate professionals who use the term “realtor” are actually members of the NAR. Some may be licensed agents or brokers who choose to use the term without paying NAR membership dues or adhering to the organization’s Code of Ethics.
How to Choose Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?
Experience: One of the primary factors to consider when choosing between a realtor and a real estate agent is their level of experience. Look for someone who has a proven track record in your local market and has experience dealing with properties similar to yours.
Communication: Communication is key when it comes to buying or selling a property. Choose an agent who is responsive and proactive in keeping you informed about the progress of your transaction. Good communication will ensure that your needs and preferences are met throughout the process.
Specialization: Some real estate agents specialize in specific types of properties or transactions, such as commercial or luxury properties, while others have expertise in certain neighborhoods. Consider your specific needs and look for an agent who specializes in the type of property you are buying or selling.
Professionalism: It is important to work with an agent who is professional, ethical, and trustworthy. Look for someone who is a member of a reputable real estate organization, such as the National Association of Realtors, and who has a good reputation in the local community.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent
Experience: One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between a Realtor and a real estate agent is their experience. Realtors typically have more experience and have gone through additional training and education, which can be beneficial in complex transactions.
Professionalism: Professionalism is also an important factor to consider. Both Realtors and real estate agents should be knowledgeable, ethical, and provide excellent customer service. Look for someone who is responsive, communicates well, and listens to your needs.
Area of expertise: It’s also important to consider the area of expertise. Some real estate agents specialize in specific types of properties, such as luxury homes or investment properties, while others focus on specific neighborhoods or areas. Choose someone who has experience in the type of property you are looking to buy or sell.
Cost: Finally, consider the cost. Realtors typically charge higher commissions than real estate agents, but they also provide additional services and expertise. Consider the value of the services provided and whether the cost is worth it for your specific needs.
How to Evaluate a Realtor or Real Estate Agent
Choosing a good real estate professional can make a significant difference in the success of your transaction. When evaluating a realtor or real estate agent, consider the following factors:
- Experience: Look for someone with several years of experience in the market you are interested in.
- Communication: The agent should be accessible, prompt, and responsive to your questions and concerns.
- Market knowledge: They should have a deep understanding of the local market, including pricing trends, inventory levels, and zoning regulations.
- Client satisfaction: Read reviews and ask for references from previous clients to gauge their level of satisfaction.
- Marketing skills: If you are selling, look for an agent with excellent marketing skills and a solid plan to promote your property to potential buyers.
Remember, a good real estate professional should have your best interests in mind and work hard to achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and take the time to find the right person for the job.
Do You Need to Hire a Realtor or Real Estate Agent?
Assess your situation: Before deciding whether to hire a real estate professional, it’s important to assess your situation. Do you have the time, knowledge, and resources to handle the process yourself? Do you have experience buying or selling real estate?
Understand the market: Even if you have experience with buying or selling real estate, it’s important to understand the current market. Real estate professionals have access to the latest market data and can help you make informed decisions.
Consider the benefits: Real estate professionals can provide a variety of benefits, such as expert knowledge, negotiation skills, and access to a wider range of properties. They can also help you save time and reduce stress by handling many of the details involved in buying or selling a property.
When to Hire a Realtor or Real Estate Agent
If you are planning to buy or sell a property, you may be wondering whether you should hire a realtor or real estate agent. Here are some situations where hiring a professional may be beneficial:
- Buying or selling your first property: If you are a first-time homebuyer or seller, a realtor or real estate agent can help guide you through the complex process and provide valuable insights and advice.
- Dealing with a complicated transaction: If your buying or selling situation is complicated, such as a short sale, foreclosure, or estate sale, a professional can help you navigate the legal and financial aspects.
- Lacking time or expertise: If you have limited time or expertise in buying or selling properties, a realtor or real estate agent can take on many of the tasks, such as handling paperwork, negotiating deals, and coordinating with other professionals.
While it’s not always necessary to hire a realtor or real estate agent, their expertise and knowledge can be invaluable in certain situations. Consider your individual needs and circumstances to determine whether hiring a professional is the right choice for you.
Can You Buy or Sell a Home Without a Realtor or Real Estate Agent?
The short answer is yes, you can buy or sell a home without a Realtor or real estate agent. However, it’s important to note that the process can be complicated and time-consuming, especially if you’re not familiar with the real estate market.
Buying without an agent: If you’re buying a home without an agent, you’ll need to do your own research, negotiate with the seller, and handle all the paperwork and legal requirements on your own. You may also miss out on access to certain properties that are only available through a real estate agent.
Selling without an agent: If you’re selling a home without an agent, you’ll need to handle the marketing, showings, and negotiations on your own. You may also struggle to price your home accurately and navigate the legal requirements of the transaction.
Benefits of hiring an agent: While it’s possible to buy or sell a home without an agent, it’s often beneficial to have an experienced professional on your side. An agent can provide valuable market insights, handle negotiations, and guide you through the legal requirements of the transaction.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent?
A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors and abides by a strict code of ethics. On the other hand, a real estate agent is only licensed to sell real estate and is not a member of the National Association of Realtors.
Why would someone choose to work with a Realtor over a real estate agent?
Working with a Realtor can provide several benefits, such as access to exclusive real estate market data, a higher level of professionalism and expertise, and a commitment to upholding a strict code of ethics.
Do you need to hire a Realtor or a real estate agent when buying or selling a home?
While it is not required to hire a Realtor or a real estate agent, having one can make the buying or selling process easier and more efficient. They can provide valuable insights, help with negotiations, and handle all the paperwork and legal requirements.
Can you save money by buying or selling a home without a Realtor or real estate agent?
While it is possible to save money by buying or selling a home without a Realtor or real estate agent, it can also be risky and time-consuming. A Realtor or real estate agent can provide valuable expertise and assistance throughout the process, which can ultimately save you time and money in the long run.