Realtor Vs. Real Estate Agent: What’s the Difference?

what is the difference between realtors and agents

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a property, or assist people in buying or selling property,  you’re likely trying to figure out what the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is.

Although the terms are used interchangeably by many, there is a significant difference between them. Knowing the difference can be a defining factor of your buying and selling experience, and is an absolute must for those taking on a new profession in the real estate industry.

What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor?

The difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is that a realtor is an agent that is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and a real estate agent does not have to be. While both have a real estate license, a realtor must adhere to a higher level of standards and ethical duties than an agent.

Put simply, becoming a realtor is the next step to take after becoming a real estate agent for many career professionals.

  • Real Estate Agent: A professional who assists in the buying or selling of properties. The requirements of becoming a real estate agent vary by state. State requirements typically determine the necessary coursework one must complete before taking the exam to obtain their real estate license. All agents must be knowledgeable in local, state, and national laws to obtain their license. After completing the course and obtaining their license, agents must continue their education and renew their licenses every two years.
  • Realtor: A real estate agent that is an active certified member of the National Association of Realtors. To become a realtor, an agent must have a valid real estate license and an impeccable professional conduct record. Members of the NAR are required to take and pass a code of ethics class and follow an extensive Code of Ethics to protect the association’s reputation.

Becoming a member has the benefit of making an agent more desirable to potential clients due to Realtors’ excellent reputation. Furthermore, the organization works to protect the member’s interests. It also grants agents the ability to network with other esteemed professionals, as well as exclusive access to list properties on

Is it better to be a realtor or an agent?

Becoming a realtor is an obvious goal of many agents. The title is attached to a level of prestige that helps to boost their desirability to clients. The potential to stand out to clients can lead to more, or even better, business opportunities. In laymen’s terms, obtaining the title of realtor can ultimately result in an agent generating better income.

But why is this? As we know, realtors are required to have an outstanding record of professional conduct and must adhere to a code of ethics. Clients who know this understand that working with a realtor means dealing with someone who most likely has a remarkable history in the field and will handle all things with an enhanced level of professionalism. As a buyer or seller, you want the best possible experience and working with a Realtor is one way to ensure that you will.

The potential to have more success in the real estate industry is significant, but it’s not the only reason for an agent to go that extra mile to become a realtor. After all, real estate agents and realtors are sales agents, and their tactics, experience, and motivation are what will ultimately build higher levels of income.

It’s important to remember that realtors and real estate agents cannot perform property transactions privately. Their job is simply to guide clients through the process. One thing that slows agents down in obtaining contracts. Real Estate Contracts must be written by an attorney or lawyer and may take time to receive. If you become a realtor, you will have access to GAR forms, which contain all the contracts they will ever need, speeding up the transaction process.

In regards to income, realtors also have a security measure that aids them in disputes regarding commissions. If you become a realtor and ever feel you have not received commissions that you are entitled to, your local chapter will handle the conflict for you. An agent dealing with similar issues will have to hire a lawyer to help them, burdening them with legal fees.

Also, we should highlight the fact that becoming a realtor does positively influence your professional networking. Other professionals are more likely to recommend your services to clients if you earn the title. Of course, this also leads to a better potential to generate higher levels of income.

At face value, the difference between an agent and a realtor is the professional certification. Both play the same role in real estate transactions. Only a realtor has the edge over the average agent because of their reputation, connections, and ability to assist the transaction in ways an agent cannot. That’s not to say an agent is not capable of providing an experience that matches or exceeds what a realtor can. Ultimately, it comes down to the individuals, their motivation, and how they conduct themselves.

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