Are All Real Estate Agents Also REALTORS ®?

Dated: 03/05/2019

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If you’re entering the real estate market for the first time, you may find real estate professionals' various titles a little bit confusing. What is the difference between a licensed real estate agent and a Realtor®? Many times the terms are used interchangeably to refer to anyone who is in the business of helping people buy and sell real estate, but this is not correct.   

Anyone who earns a real estate license can be called a real estate agent or a real estate salesperson.  Simply put, a real estate agent is anyone licensed to help people buy and sell both residential or commercial property.


That being said, not every real estate agent is a Realtor®. Both real estate agents and Realtors® have to have a license to sell real estate, but a Realtor® is a trademarked term that refers to a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and has to uphold its Standards of Practice and abide by a Code of Ethics. According to the NAR, the code is what separates Realtors® from non-member real estate agents.

The National Association of REALTORS® was founded in 1908 and currently has more than 1 million members. The Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913.

The term “Realtor” was initially proposed to give members of the NAR a way to differentiate themselves from non-members. The association obtained a trademark and a copyright on the name in 1950.


Even agents that simply hold a real estate license are bound to follow state guidelines, but the Code of Ethics guidelines are much more stringent.  As a member of the NAR, Realtors® are held to a Code of Ethics that includes 17 different articles containing Standards of Practice and generally holds them to a higher standard of conduct than agents who are not part of the NAR. The first 9 articles cover duties to Clients and Customers, the next 5 cover duties to the Public and the final 3 articles address duties to Realtors®. Violation of the Code of Ethics can result in removal from the association.


The first article of the NAR Code of Ethics sets the tone and establishes the way a Realtor® operates their business. Article 1 basically says that a Realtor® must be honest. They are obligated to treat all parties honestly. A Realtor® must also pledge to make the customer’s interests their first priority.


Keep in mind that both Realtors® and real estate agents are bound by the same legal standards. The Code of Ethics is designed to impose additional moral rules, rather than legal ones.

When you are looking for a real estate professional, it is wise to work with a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) who is committed to maintaining the professionalism of the Real Estate business. You should also ask any prospective agent or broker whether they belong to their Local Board of Realtors. Board membership isn’t required, but it does give members access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a nationwide database of homes that are for sale.


Choose a professional who will not only act in your best interest, but will effectively guide YOU every step of the way so you can feel CONFIDENT about your home sale or purchase.


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Walt and Emilie Davis

Treating customers like family is both a guiding principle and way of life for Walt and Emilie Davis. A husband and wife duo, they are dedicated to listening intently, understanding and matching indiv....

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