What is the difference between a Real Estate Agent and a REALTOR ®

Real estate agent vs a realtorWe have heard many times from our clients, especially ones that are just starting the process to buy or sell, that they don’t understand the difference between a Real Estate Agent and a REALTOR ®.  More often than not, people refer to each of them hand in hand because they just don’t know.  All REALTORS® are real estate agents but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.  There are actually some big differences between the two of them and they are important to know especially if you are going to rely on their guidance and expertise in the real estate market.

Each state government regulates their real estate professions.  Massachusetts requires that you take a 40 hour live class in order to receive your certificate booklet which is your proof of completing the training.  Once you complete the class, you schedule your appointment to take the real estate licensing test.  Once you pass the test, then you can get your license.  Your license will need to be renewed every 2 years.  To find out more information on the classes, exams, and costs, visit Bay State Academy.

Real Estate Agent vs REALTOR®

  • Real estate agent: A person who completes the required classes, passes the exam and is granted a real estate license can be called a real estate agent.
  • REALTOR®: A real estate agent who becomes a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, meaning that they ascribe to and uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Standards of the NAR (National Association of REALTORS®.

You don’t automatically become a member of The National Association of REALTORS®.  There are additional classes to take and annual dues to pay.  According the NAR website:

  • “The NAR is composed of residential and commercial REALTORS®, who are brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.” Members sit on boards and committees together to share information about their respective expertise in the real estate industry.  “Members belong to one or more of some 1,700 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®.”
  • The NAR constantly offers professional development to its members.  The association offers institutes and councils in all facets of real estate, everything from changes in lending practices to appraisal to international real estate.

 The Code of Ethics

A REALTOR ® must also prescribe to a legally enforceable code of ethics. The general buyer or seller is not aware of what this code of ethics is about. According to NAR and The Code of Ethics, here is what your REALTOR® pledges to do:

  • Pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
  • Shall refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts; and is obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
  • Shall cooperate with other brokers / agents 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 disclosing that interest.
  • Shall not collect any commissions without the seller’s knowledge nor accept fees from a third-party without the seller’s express consent.
  • Shall refuse fees from more than one party without all parties’ informed consent.
  • Shall not co-mingle client funds with their own.
  • Shall attempt to ensure that all written documents are easy to understand and will give everybody a copy of what they sign.
  • Shall not discriminate in any fashion for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
  • Expects agents to be competent, to conform to standards of practice and to refuse to provide services for which they are unqualified.
  • Must engage in truth in advertising.
  • Shall not practice law unless they are a lawyer.
  • Shall cooperate if charges are brought against them and present all evidence requested.
  • Agree not to bad mouth competition and agree not to file unfounded ethics complaints.
  • Shall not solicit another REALTOR’S client nor interfere in a contractual relationship.
  • Shall submit to arbitration to settle matters and not seek legal remedies in the judicial system.

Though you have an option of who you work with for a real estate professional, it is always a good idea to work with a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.  These agents are committed to being the most professional and courteous. These agents have great experience and are constantly improving their knowledge through training and certifications.  Make sure before you agree to work with someone, that they have your best interests in mind and will represent you in the most favorable way.

Each member of our team is a REALTOR® and we pride ourselves in our ability to work with buyers, sellers and investors and have the education and training to exceed their expectations



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