The term real estate agent and REALTOR® are often thrown around synonymously. In most consumer’s minds, there is no difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent.
When talking about what the difference is between a REALTOR and a real estate agent is, we should also add a real estate broker to the mix. Real estate broker is another term thrown around synonymously with real estate agent and REALTOR.
On top of all that you have listing agents, facilitators, buyer’s agents and dual agents to consider. It can leave a consumer’s head spinning.
REALTOR vs Real Estate Agent vs Real Estate Broker
While a real estate agent, broker or REALTOR can all help you conduct a real estate transaction they are not exactly the same thing.
What Is A Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent or a real estate salesperson is licensed by the state that they are doing business in, to buy and sell real estate for others. It is important to note, that no unlicensed person can accept money for the sale of any real estate for others without a real estate license.
Real estate agent licensees must participate in an approved class by the governing entity that oversees real estate in that state.
In Massachusetts, that department that oversees real estate licensees is the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons. In most other states it is a board or commission that supervises the real estate industry for the state.
Most states require a real estate salesperson to attend a class of 30-90 hours. Upon completion, they must pass a state-approved test to get their real estate license.
Once a person successfully completes their real estate exam they are able to help people buy, sell or rent real estate under the supervision of a real estate broker.
A real estate agent must also complete continuing education every two years to maintain their real estate license.
Real estate agents or salespeople are not allowed to work independently and must always work under the supervision of a real estate broker.
What Is A Real Estate Broker?
A real estate broker is allowed to manage real estate agents under their supervision as well as help individuals sell and buy real estate. An independent real estate agent must be a broker even if they do not have agents working for them.
Real estate agents are just that. They are agents of the broker doing business in the broker’s name. Ultimately the broker is responsible for all agents doing business under them.
Real estate brokers have to take additional training as well as work for a real estate broker for a minimum of one to three years. A broker must be bonded as well.
All real estate brokers start out as real estate agents. The training for a real estate broker covers more of the legal and ministerial acts of running a brokerage and managing others.
What Is An Associate Broker?
An associate broker is a licensed real estate broker who works for another broker. They could work independently but have chosen to work for another broker for various reasons.
What Is A REALTOR?
A REALTOR® isa real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS or NAR. Membership to NAR is optional for an agent or broker.
The National Association of REALTORS has been around since 1908 and is the leading, most influential real estate organization in the country with over one million members.
In Massachusetts a REALTOR® must belong to a regional board as well as the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®
What is the benefit of being a REALTOR®?
- Networking- An agent has increased networking opportunities by being a member of NAR.
- Education- There are many education opportunities for an agent to enhance their real estate skills. NAR offers designations for many real estate niches. For example, the SRES is a senior real estate specialist who is knowledgeable on helping the over 55 community or a CBR is a Certified Buyer Representative who is proficient working a buyer’s agent.
- Resources- NAR provides its member with tons of resources from nationwide market statistics, legal help, best practices etc… The wealth of knowledge and resources REALTOR® gains by being a member is invaluable.
- Code of Ethics- By being a REALTOR® Member of NAR you are also agreeing to a certain code of ethics that are beneficial to working with clients, the public and other REALTORS®.
The National Association of REALTORS was also the first trade organization to hold its members to a higher standard through their Code of Ethics.
Below find the basic outline for the REALTORS® Code of Ethics:
REALTORS® Duties to Clients and Customers
- Article 1: Protect the best interests of the client.
- Article 2: No misrepresentation, exaggeration, or hiding facts about the property at hand.
- Article 3: Realtors should cooperate with each other unless it’s not in the best interest of the client.
- Article 4-5: Disclose any personal interest in a property.
- Article 6-8: No recommending services for a kickback or collecting money under the table. Keep client funds separate from your own.
- Article 9: All documents pertaining to the transaction should be presented to the buyer/seller in understandable terms.
REALTORS® Duties to the Public
- Article 10: No denying services on the basis of discrimination.
- Article 11: Provide clients with competent services only within a Realtor’s professional scope.
- Article 12: No false or misleading advertising.
- Article 13: Don’t break the law.
- Article 14: Cooperate with the Realtor board’s investigative proceedings if charged with a violation.
REALTORS® Duties To Other REALTORS®
- Article 15: No false or misleading statements about other Realtors.
- Article 16: Don’t solicit clients that have already signed an exclusive listing agreement with another Realtor.
- Article 17: Contractual disputes will be mediated or arbitrated by the Realtor Board.
Here’s a quick recap of REALTOR vs real estate agent vs real estate broker. While they all can conduct real estate transactions for you there is a slight difference that may or may not make a difference to you.
So what is the difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent vs a real estate broker?
- A licensed real estate agent is allowed to conduct the purchase, sale or rent of a piece of real estate and accept a commission under the supervision of a real estate broker.
- A real estate broker started out as a real estate agent and have received additional training. They are able to conduct business independently or manage real estate sales agents under them.
- REALTORS® are either licensed real estate agents or brokers who belong to the National Association of REALTORS®. Not all agents or brokers are REALTOR®.
All REALTORS are real estate agents. But not all real estate agents (or brokers) are REALTORS.
Why Use A REALTOR vs a Real Estate Agent?
Why use a REALTOR when buying or selling a home? Here are 3 reasons why a consumer who is in the market to buy or sell should use a REALTOR vs. a Real Estate Agent
- Statistically, a REALTOR® is better educated and skilled about the business of real estate and consistently earns more money as an agent because of their experience. Experience and training translate into better success for their clients.
- REALTORS® are also held to higher ethical standards in their dealings with you.
- By supporting a REALTOR®, you are supporting an organization that supports issues revolving around homeownership. The National Association of REALTORS® works daily on advocating on the national, state and local levels for the ability for the consumer to own, buy and sell real estate.
Did you know, The National Association of REALTORS was instrumental in keeping the Federal Flood Insurance program intact after Hurricane Katrina when legislation was set forth to dissolve the program?
Without the National Flood Insurance program, it would have left many homeowners without flood insurance.
NAR was also instrumental in recent legislation that excluded the delta on homes sold short as income. Giving tax relief to already financially burdened homeowners.
If you have the opportunity consider hiring a REALTOR vs a real estate agent. By doing so, you are supporting your own best interest as well.
Membership to the National Association of REALTORS is not inexpensive and is what holds back many agents from participating in NAR. That money spent on membership directly benefits every U>S.citizen that owns a home or wants to own a home.
A Word On Real Estate Agency
When talking about real estate agents vs REALTORS vs real estate brokers we should quickly talk about real estate agency.
An agent is someone who conducts business for someone else. So it makes sense that a real estate firm or brokerage is often called a real estate agency.
An agent can work for you or with you in one or more different capacities.
- Listing or Seller’s Agent- They have a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. The seller’s best interest is represented by a listing or sellers agent.
- Buyers or Selling Agent- They have a fiduciary responsibility to the buyer and the buyer’s best interest is represented by a buyer’s agent.
- Transactional or Facilitating Agent- They represent no one and are only there to facilitate the transaction between both parties without favoring one party over another.
- Dual Agents- In some states, agents can represent both parties at the same time. It is complicated and I highly recommend not considering a dual agent.
Whether you hire a real estate agent vs a REALTOR vs a broker is up to you. There may be advantages for you to hire one over the other.
Do your homework and conduct several interviews.
Agent vs broker vs REALTOR is just part of the equation in hiring the right real estate professional. No matter who you hire, they all have the potential of doing a great job for you.
Other Real Estate Resources:
- Consider a beautiful shade garden instead of that tangled woodland mess. Eileen Anderson gives some great pointer on creating a shade garden you will love.
- When selling your home your listing description should be well thought out. Sharon Paxson gives some great advice on crafting the perfect listing description.
- A flat fee listing is where you pay a fee to get listed in your Multiple listing service but are not represented by an agent. You do all the work. Bill Gassett covers the downsides of a flat fee listing service.
- If the Pandemic wasn’t enough to worry about. Try selling a home admist the Coronavirus. Paul Sian shares some tips on selling your home during the Pandemic.
What Is The Difference Between A REALTOR And A Real Estate Agent? was provided by Kevin Vitali a Massachusetts REALTOR. If you are looking to buy or sell a home call Kevin at 978-360-0422.