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Are you looking to buy or sell a home? If so, you’re probably thinking about hiring a real estate agent. When searching for a real estate agent, you may notice that some companies advertise themselves as real estate agents, while others present themselves as Realtors. What’s the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent? Check out this guide to find out. 

Realtor vs Real Estate Agent 

The biggest difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent comes down to certification. Simply put, while real estate agents and Realtors complete similar work, they are held to different standards as set forth by the National Association of Realtors. 

While you may hear people using the terms interchangeably, there is definitely a difference between the two. To get a better understanding of the difference between these two words, let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities and qualifications required by each position. 

What is a Real Estate Agent? 

A real estate agent is a professional who assists people in buying and selling properties. To qualify to work as a real estate agent, one must obtain a real estate license. 

Real estate agents can work with both commercial and residential properties, and they may also choose to practice with a certain focus. For example, some agents focus on rental properties, while others focus on luxury properties. 

In order to become a real estate agent, one must pass a state examination after taking the necessary coursework. Typically, real estate agents will need to complete 30 to 90 hours of coursework before sitting for the exam, although exact requirements vary by state. 

Depending on the state they live in, most real estate agents are also required to engage in continuing education and renew their licenses every two years. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Here’s what one must do in order to become a real estate agent:

  1. Enroll in real estate education courses (either online or in-person- some people also choose to earn real estate degrees from their university)
  2. Take the real estate licensing exam and meet the minimum score requirements
  3. Work with a real estate agent to gain experience
  4. Apply for licensing to begin practicing as an agent
  5. Continue education/renew certifications

What is a Realtor? 

Now that you know what a real estate agent is, let’s talk about Realtors. A Realtor is a real estate agent who is an active member of the NAR (National Association of Realtors). 

The National Association of Realtors was founded in 1908, and it is the largest trade association in America. In order to join the NAR, one must have an active real estate license as well as an exceptional professional record. Due to its prestigious reputation, many real estate agents seek to join this organization. 

In order to maintain good status as a Realtor of the NAR, one must adhere to a certain code of ethics. This code of ethics is meant to help consumers feel at peace knowing that they’re working with an agent who has been thoroughly vetted by a professional organization. 

According to the NAR, around half of the real estate agents in the US are also certified Realtors. 

Code of Ethics 

As we mentioned, to be a member of the NAR, you must agree to adhere to a certain code of ethics. The code of ethics put forth by the NAR consists of 17 articles. 

These articles cover the professional standards of practice that Realtors must uphold in order to remain in good standing with the NAR. Articles 1-9 cover the duty Realtors have to their customers and clients. Articles 10-14 cover the duties a Realtor has to the public. 

Articles 15-17 cover the duties Realtors have to other Realtors. Here is a summary of the 17 articles:

  1. Realtors should put the interest of buyers and sellers ahead of their own interests and treat all parties honestly 
  2. Realtors should refrain from misrepresenting, exaggerating, or concealing facts about a property
  3. Realtors should cooperate with other agents and brokers when it’s in the best interest of the client
  4. Realtors should disclose when they’re representing family members who own or are looking to buy real estate
  5. Realtors should avoid providing professional services for properties they have a personal interest in, unless it’s disclosed to their client
  6. Realtors shouldn’t collect commission without the seller’s knowledge
  7. Unless all parties offer informed consent, Realtors should refuse fees from more than one party
  8. Realtors shouldn’t comingle client funds with their own money
  9. Realtors should make every effort to ensure that documents are easy to understand and that everyone has a copy of anything they sign
  10. Realtors shouldn’t discriminate for any reason based on race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, familial status, handicap, gender identity, or national origin
  11. Realtors should abide by the standards of practice and refuse to provide services for which they’re unqualified
  12. Realtors should engage in truthful marketing and advertising
  13. Realtors should not practice law unless they’re authorized to do so
  14. Realtors should cooperate if charges are brought against them and present all requested evidence
  15. Realtors should not bad mouth competition
  16. Realtors should not solicit another Realtor’s client
  17. Realtors should handle disputes with other Realtors through arbitration instead of litigation

How to Become a Realtor

In order to become a Realtor, one must go through all of the same steps that a real estate agent does. Then, they need to identify and join their local NAR chapter. 

Before becoming a Realtor, real estate agents must pass an online course on the Code of Ethics and pay dues to be a part of the association. 

Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent: Now You Know 

Now that you know the difference between a Realtor and real estate agent, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for when buying or selling property. 

If you’re looking to hire a Realtor in Bucks County, PA, contact us today

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