REALTORS® vs. Real Estate Agents: What You Need to Know
REALTORS® Association of Central Massachusetts
You’ve heard of real estate agents. Maybe you’ve heard of Realtors. If you’re like most people, you probably use them interchangeably, thinking that they’re the same thing.
But they’re not!
Around 90% of buyers and sellers used some sort of real estate professional in 2012, and we strongly recommend you follow suit. There’s too much at stake not to leave it to the professionals. So your next question may be, “do I get a real estate agent, or a Realtor?”
First Off–What’s The Difference?The first thing you need to know is the difference between a certified Realtor and a real estate agent.
Real Estate Agents
Realtors are real estate agents and brokers who have joined the NAR, or the National Association of Realtors.
To become a Realtor, professionals must join their local NAR chapter and pay a one-time application fee, then a yearly membership due. The fee pays for lobbying efforts, marketing, and resources like Code of Ethics training, webinars, and other classes so that Relators are always continuing their education.
To be approved by the NAR Board you must:
- Hold a valid real estate license
- Be active in the real estate business
- Have no official sanctions against them for unprofessional or immoral behavior
- Have no recent or pending bankruptcy
Real Estate Agents
You probably have friends or relatives who are real estate agents. It can be a popular career choice because it doesn’t require years of schooling or an expensive degree.
To become a real estate agent, you need a license. To get the license, you have to take a certain number of classes (which differs by state) and pass an exam. A real estate agent probably spent between 30 and 90 hours in a classroom of an accredited school before they can sit for the state exam. Massachusetts requires 40 hours.
The exam covers local, state, and national real estate law, standards, and best practices.
Once they pass the exam, the agent pays an annual fee to renew their license. In some states, continuing education is required.
More On the Code of Ethics
To become a Realtor, one must agree to abide by the NAR’s official Code of Ethics and Professional Standards. The code dictates the duties a Realtor has to clients, customers, the public, and other Realtors.
The code was based on the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Basically, Realtors need to cooperate with others to make sure their clients’ best interests are being represented.
The code is updated every year and re-published in the January edition of Realtor Magazine. Though it’s more than 100 years old, the code is constantly being added to and revised so that it stays up to date with modern real estate practices.
The code is important to NAR because they want to create and uphold an outstanding reputation of honesty and morals for Realtors.