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The Difference Between Real Estate Agents and Realtors

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 12:00 AM by Alan Tucker

Many people don’t realize the difference between Realtors and real estate agents and use the terms interchangeably.  They are not the same.  Although both are licensed to sell real estate, the main difference is that a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors.  This holds a Realtor to a specific code of ethics. 




A Realtor must subscribe to a code of ethics.  When you are working with someone in a transaction as important as buying or selling a house, this code of ethics is going to matter to you.  The real estate board strictly enforces the code of ethics.    They include standards of practice that aren’t just a bunch of rules that agents swear to uphold because their broker made them join the board.  These standards are more restrictive than the state guidelines governing agents who simply hold a real estate license. 


You can’t be guaranteed that all Realtors are ethically better than the unaffiliated real estate agents, but being a member of the National Association of Realtors is an attempt to help regulate the industry.  The most important article of the code of ethics is that a Realtor must be fair to all parties and to be honest.  This can seem like a no-brainer, but some may want to look out for their own best interest or the interests of a long time client. 


Real Estate Agents


Real estate agents are still held to the same legal standard as Realtors, but are typically not an Association member, and therefore aren’t as concerned with following the code of ethics.  Depending on the amount of knowledge you have conducting a real estate transaction may help you to make the decision between a Realtor and real estate agent. 


The best way to decide whom it is you want to work with is to do your research.  You can rely on referrals from friends, or websites and marketing.  What’s most important is that you feel you are working with someone that has your best interests in mind throughout the entire transaction.  

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