Many of us consider Real Estate Agents and REALTORs to be the same, using each title interchangeably. This is a common mistake that needs some clarification. There are real estate agents who are REALTORS and vice versa, but every realtor is not a real estate agent and neither is every real estate agent a realtor. The real estate market is occupied by 5 major professionals: Real estate agents, REALTORs, Real estate brokers, associate brokers, and in some cases, exclusive buyer’s agents. If you’re new to the real estate world, here’s the difference between real estate agents and REALTORS.
Real Estate Agents
Becoming a real estate agent requires earning a real estate license. This can be in any of the real estate disciplines: broker, associate broker, or in sales. In each state, there are a minimum number of classes set by the government which must be attended, followed by a test that has to be passed to get a license.
While sometimes buyers and sellers are provided with services from their brokers themselves, usually they are in direct contact with associate brokers or real estate salespersons, who are reporting to their managing brokers. Brokers have the responsibility to establish the escrow account and handle the earnest money deposit.
It is advisable to work alongside a REALTOR if you are new to the market and are searching for a professional. REALTORS are members of the National Association of REALTORs (NAR), who strictly adhere to their code of ethics.
The NAR has been in existence for over a century now and has more than a million members. A REALTOR can have the educational background of any professional in the real estate market. They subscribe to a code of ethics consisting of 17 articles, ensuring a higher level of trustworthiness.
Code of Ethics
Listed below are a few of the articles to help understand the nature of the standards REALTORs follow.
REALTORS promise to:
- Put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
- Refrain from misrepresenting, exaggerating, and concealing material facts; and are obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
- Cooperate with other agents or brokers when it is in the best interests of the client to do so.
- Have a duty to disclose if they represent family members who own or are about to buy real estate, or if they themselves are a principal in a real estate transaction, that they are licensed to sell real estate.
- Shall not provide professional services in a transaction where the agent has a present or contemplated interest without first disclosing that interest.
This Code of Ethics is enforced strictly by the local boards and provides a layout for the standard practice that must be followed at all times. As more customers develop trust in REALTORs, brokers are making it mandatory for their agents to be a part of the NAR.
Do not confuse REALTORs with real estate agents, as the former is considered to be more professional and it is highly recommended to use their services when needed. If you are considering becoming a real estate agent, here is an article we’d suggest reading about starting a real estate brokerage.