What Is The Difference Between A Real Estate Agent And A REALTOR®?

Eric Stewart May 15, 2015

Although there are over 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States, only half of them are REALTORS®. So, what exactly, is the difference?

Real estate agents have met their state’s requirement to becoming a licensed agent. This includes completing a real estate course, which typically includes a minimum of 30 to 90 hours of classroom or online instruction. After the course has been completed, the candidate must then pass a national exam that covers national real estate law and the laws of the candidate’s particular state.

A real estate agent is a REALTOR® when he or she becomes a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and pledges to adhere to the strictly enforced REALTOR® Code of Ethics and standards of practice. The official ethics code is amended annually to reflect the latest issues in real estate law and practice, and its core principle, which is to treat all parties honestly.

The Code of Ethics contains 17 different articles, which covers a REALTOR’S® duties to clients and customers, the public, and to other REALTORS®.

As part of adhering to the Code, REALTORS® pledge themselves to:

  • Put the interests of their client (buyers and sellers) ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
  • Refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts relating to the property or the transaction.
  • Not collect any commissions without the client’s knowledge nor accept fees from a third-party without the client’s express consent.
  • Ensure that all agreements relating to the real estate transaction are in writing and that each party to the agreement receives a copy.
  • Not discriminate in any fashion for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Be honest and truthful in their communications and advertising.
  • Not knowingly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals or their business practices.

The full Code of Ethics can be accessed here.

NAR members are required to take ethics training when joining the association and to complete ongoing training on a regular basis.

When in doubt, always ask your real estate professional for information on their training and background. It’s in your best interest to work with a real estate agent who has pledged to treat all parties fairly and honestly.

Every agent at the Eric Stewart Group of Long & Foster Real Estate is a REALTOR® and we proudly display that designation in our communications. For additional perspective on the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, listen to The Eric Stewart Show on Sunday, May 17 at 7am on WMAL AM 630/105.9 FM, or download the archived episode after it airs.

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