People who have no background knowledge on home selling use the terms real estate agent and realtor interchangeably, but that is incorrect. There are differences between the two, not that big but there is an important distinction that you may want to know as a consumer. In addition, a real estate broker is another story in itself but here we will focus more on realtors and real estate agents… So, what’s the difference?
Many people unfamiliar with the real estate industry use the terms real estate agent, broker and realtor interchangeably. There are actual differences and the most important of them are the services each real estate professional offers to those in need of real estate services.
In a nutshell, a real estate agent is a real estate professional who has taken and passed all required real estate classes and passed the real estate licensing exam in the state in which he or she intends to work. Each state has its own requirements for becoming a licensed real estate agent. Most states require a minimum of 30 to 90 hours of classroom instruction. Being a real estate agent means that your are at the starting point for most real estate professionals. These agents or associates cannot practice as independent unit and they have to work under a licensed broker.
A realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become a member, a real estate agent has to agree to abide by the association’s standards and uphold the code of ethics. There are more than 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States, but only half of them are known to be Realtors.
To become a Realtor, agents must join their local real estate board or association, take an online course on the ethics code, and pass an exam. Current members are required to take an online ethics refresher course every four years too. As a consumer, you will most likely choose to work with a real estate agent who has sworn to treat all parties fairly and honestly, right?
Another entity, the real estate broker, is someone who has continued his or her education past the real estate agent level and passed the real estate broker license. Real estate brokers can work as independent real estate agents or have other agents working for them.
Now you are familiar with the terms, you will know who exactly to look for if you want to sell your home or buy a new one.