Real estate professions usually enjoy a lot of limelight today. However, there’s one all-too-common confusion in this attractive field- the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. The two terms sound similar but sport multiple differences in meaning. Let’s examine what makes them unique.
Realtors and real estate agents both comply with different sets of standards. Both adhere to the standards set by the National Association of Realtors. The Real estate Agent Middle Park, for example, possesses a license that permits assistance in the purchase and the sale of properties. On the other hand, a Realtor is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become a member of the NAR, an agent is required to produce a valid real estate license, show a clean, professional track record, and agree to obey the rigorous code of ethics.
To qualify for the job role of a real estate agent, one must take the state-level examination that complies with the current required coursework. Meanwhile, the criteria for getting a license differ from state to state, although an educated guess would be 30 to 90 hours of coursework. Additionally, agents must know all about local, state, and national real estate laws and practices. It is also important for an agent to keep learning on the job and renew their license every couple of years.
On the other hand, a Realtor must join the local NAR chapter and make the necessary payments to start working. They must also take an online course that teaches them a code of ethics. Once they complete it, they get a certificate. This course has to be taken every four years to continue holding the Ethics license.
Real estate agents can also opt to become realtors by joining the NAR, and Realtors can opt to become brokers. However, one must not forget that Realtors are active and paying members of the NAR while real estate agents are not.
The professional duties of a Realtor are much briefer compared to those of an agent. Realtors must promise to prioritize the interests of their clients above their own. Other promises which Realtors must keep (and non-members need not) include the following:
- Prioritizing buyers and sellers and treating all members of a contract fairly.
- Being selective with the amount of information about a property that they disclose at a time. They cannot disclose any information that is classified for personal advantage. It is important to get the client’s consent before doing so.
- Not collecting commissions without the knowledge and approval of the seller and refusing to accept payments from any third party that is not known to the seller.
- Drawing contracts that are easy to understand and providing every party with a copy. They need to possess extensive knowledge of laws related to real estate to draft a contract with clearly laid out terms. It is also the realtors to make sure both parties understand the contract and their liabilities.
- Disclosing any personal relationship that they might share with any of the parties involved, including cases where the Realtor themselves are the principal.
- Not involve themselves in any illegitimate or ulterior deal and stick to what they can do. Realtors also need to be careful not to use their position to sell any property they own without being transparent about their stake in the property they are selling.
There are several other promises a Realtor makes and agrees to adhere to them in all cases.
After poring over all their minute differences, we can safely conclude that the major distinction between a Realtor and a real estate agent is one of certification. Since the jobs of both professionals involve heavy overlap, there is no need to dive too deep into what sets them apart. That said, there’s one final, intriguing difference: the term ‘Realtor’ is always capitalized. This is because NAR has trademarked this term used by professionals who distinguish themselves from non-members. The trademark was obtained in 1950 and was coined in the year 1916. To date, the rights of the term ‘Realtor’ are upheld by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
While the terms ‘Realtor’ and ‘real estate agent’ may entail different meanings and similar job responsibilities, the relationship between ‘Realtors’ and ‘brokers’ involves much wider differences. Let’s leave that for another article at another time.