Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What’s the Difference?

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There are numerous titles in the world of real estate business, which can be confusing. One of the most common misunderstandings about real estate professions is that the terms realtors and real estate agents are interchangeable. These phrases are frequently used interchangeably and may have similar sounds, but they have different meanings.

Many individuals confuse realtors with real estate agents or real estate brokers, not recognizing that there is a distinction.

In this article, you will find a detailed comparison of realtors vs real estate agents.

Real estate agents may also go by the titles of sales associates or salespersons. They are the individuals who have obtained the necessary credentials to act as representatives for either purchasers or vendors during a real estate transaction.

A person authorized to arbitrate between the parties involved in a real estate transaction is known as a realtor. A realtor must be a member of a recognized association in the area.

Who is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a real estate representative. He or she will represent the buyer (buyer’s agent) or the seller (seller’s agent) and see that all of the parties’ requirements regarding the commercial or residential property are satisfied.

Real estate agents in the United States are more commonly referred to as real estate sales associates. They can seek licenses from the relevant authorities to guarantee that the law legitimately acknowledges their businesses. They must pass a few tests in order to obtain the license and certification.

Some states will additionally require applicants to submit to background checks and carry business insurance. The permits also have jurisdictions that limit the holder’s operations to a specific geographic area.

Without qualification, some agents can work successfully and keep their titles. However, many people choose state-issued licenses because of competitiveness and the industry’s reputation-based climate.

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How one can become a Real Estate Agent?

You must complete the state-mandated classes and pass examinations held by your respective state and federal governments to work as a real estate agent.

There are no federal requirements for real estate agents; everything is decided on a state-by-state basis. Depending on the state, 30 to 90 hours of classroom education may be required to prepare for the exam.

Passing the licensure exam is one of the criteria. Agents must also pay an annual license fee and may be required to undertake continuing education. These are all prerequisites for obtaining a real estate license and beginning to sell real estate.

A licensed agent can begin executing their functions as part of their real estate career once their obligations have been fulfilled. A real estate broker usually referred to as the designated broker or primary broker will supervise real estate agents.

Basics about real estate agent license:

A real estate agent license is a state-issued permit that allows the bearer to help the general public lawfully purchase and sell real estate. You can’t call yourself a real estate agent without an active real estate license.

A real estate license is only valid in the state where it was obtained. Some states, however, allow for mobility. The portability laws of a state govern whether out-of-state licensed agents can participate in local transactions. Some portability national real estate laws allow out-of-state agents to work while physically present in the state, while others only allow them to do business from their home state.

It’s also feasible to have numerous real estate licenses. In many circumstances, having a real estate license in one state makes it easier to obtain a license in another since you may be excluded from some licensing requirements.

Who is a Realtor?

A realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) who works in the real estate sector. The National Association of Realtors’ members agree to uphold the real estate code of ethics laid out by the organization. NAR is one of the country’s largest trade organizations.

Members of the organization can come from various professional backgrounds, including real estate agents and brokers. Property managers and real estate appraisers are two examples of professionals who are welcome to join. Every person who joins the NAR commits to uphold the organization’s values and principles and its code of ethics.

The NAR makes an effort to ensure that its members are held accountable for their actions in the workplace. Real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) believe that they can provide their customers with a superior level of service compared to those who work for other real estate companies.

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How can one become a Realtor?

To become a licensed realtor, one needs to fulfill all of the position’s professional qualification requirements and complete a class on the NAR Code of Ethics once every four years. Local real estate organizations strictly enforce the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics. In order to keep their membership, realtors are expected to conduct their professional lives in accordance with the code.

Differences between Real Estate Agent and a Realtor

Criteria for Admission into the Group

Members of a trade association are obligatory for real estate agents. There is a group called the National Association of Realtors in the United States. Agents in the real estate industry are exempt from any membership requirements.

Costs Involved in Membership

Realtors are required to pay increased fees not only for association membership but also for their licenses. These costs must be paid on a yearly basis. NAR’s fees are currently charged at the level of $120, but they can go as high as $250 for new applicants. Only license fees are required to be paid by real estate agents.

Different Business Cards

Examining the business cards that each party carries is the simplest way to tell the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent. Realtors carry an additional badge of honor on their business cards in the form of the realtor emblem, a registered trademark. None of this information is featured on the business cards of real estate agents.

Training requirements

Real estate agents are required to participate in ongoing education throughout their employment. They don’t have a choice but to stay current with the latest fashions, popular habits, legal developments, and educational standards. The majority of real estate agents participate in ongoing education and training on their initiative rather than being required to do so.

Code of ethics

Real estate agents are obligated to abide by a particular code of ethics. If the guidelines are not followed, the association’s membership and the license that was provided would be revoked. Although real estate brokers are not required to follow a specific set of ethical rules in their work, they are responsible for ensuring that their activities are compliant with local laws and regulations.

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How can one find an excellent agent for buying or selling a home?

It is essential to understand the distinctions between a Realtor and a real estate agent before seeking the assistance of either of these professionals. This is what you need to be aware of:

  • Real estate agents can either operate on their own or serve as employees of a brokerage firm.
  • Realtors are held to a higher standard since they are subject to NAR’s regulations.
  • Real estate brokers must have a greater level of education than real estate agents.

When picking one of them, here are some of the considerations you ought to give attention to:

Negotiation abilities

Remember that the representative you select will act as a go-between for all parties concerned. As a middleman, they should be able to provide objective advice and navigate the negotiation process in your best interests.

Familiarity with the surrounding environment

The individual you go with should have in-depth knowledge of the neighborhood, which should include information on schools, the rate of crime, comparable properties, closeness to essential amenities, and pricing points. They will also determine whether the prices that have been established are reasonable or competitive for the particular market in which their properties are located.


A real estate agent should work for and with you. Still, they should also be familiar with the inner workings of the real estate industry and the community and neighborhood in which you’re buying or selling property.

This is important knowledge to have when buying or selling property. You should seek the assistance of a knowledgeable expert who can guide you through the procedure and ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible. Remember to take into account their fundamental beliefs in addition to their experience.

Networking for professionals

Aside from prior clients, real estate agents should be able to refer you to other respectable industry professionals, including staging businesses, appraisers, and inspection companies.

Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate broker is accountable for representing the client’s best interests. They will assist purchasers in locating the home they like and negotiating the best possible price. They also assist sellers in finding buyers and negotiating an excellent price for their property. Real estate brokers conduct an extensive range of activities on behalf of their clients to ensure that their transactions go as smoothly as possible.

The following are some of the most important responsibilities of a real estate agent:
  • Determining the appropriate selling price for a house.
  • Marketing of the properties, both online and offline, using a variety of tried and tested ways.
  • Negotiating offers whenever they are received, regardless of whether they come from a buyer’s representative or a client.
  • Preserving an open channel of communication with customers both before and after completing a transaction.
  • Assisting purchasers in the search for and purchase of a home.
  • Completion of a multitude of other duties that are necessary for the successful conclusion of a buy and sale

It is essential to be aware that buyer’s agents and seller’s agents frequently engage in very distinct kinds of work over the course of their daily business operations.

Responsibilities of a Realtor

Realtors have traditional obligations as real estate agents or brokers, such as helping buyers and sellers. On the other hand, realtors are held to a higher standard of business ethics and standards. Unlike real estate agents, realtors have to follow and abide by the NAR Code of Ethics.

The code is seen as a living document that can undergo revisions as they become necessary. Throughout its existence, it has undergone a number of modifications to ensure that it is always up to date with the most cutting-edge real estate standards. Additionally, as necessary, NAR has altered the code in order to reflect modifications to fair housing legislation and standards.

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How do real estate agents get paid?

Since real estate agents are paid on commission, they don’t see any financial gain unless and until a transaction is successfully completed. The seller is responsible for paying the real estate commission, which is typically between five and six percent of the sale price.

The commission is given to the brokers directly, with half going to the broker representing the seller and the other half going to the broker representing the buyer. After that, every broker gives a portion of their commission to the agent they work with.

How do Realtors get compensated?

A real estate agent or broker who has fulfilled all of the rigorous requirements to become a member of the National Association of Realtors can use the title “realtor” to distinguish themselves from other real estate professionals. A realtor is not a role; instead, it is a title. The manner in which a realtor is compensated is equivalent to that of any other real estate agent or broker, regardless of whether or not the realtor is also a broker.


The real estate sector is quite robust, with many people filling various specialized roles. Whether you decide to deal with a real estate agent or a realtor, either one of them ought to be able to guide you through the steps involved in the process of purchasing or selling your property successfully.

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