Most people who are not in the real estate industry don’t even realize that there is a difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. Realtor (pronounced Real-tor with two syllables) is such a common term that most people just assume all agents are Realtors, which is not the case.
A real estate agent is someone who has gone through the required schooling and passed a test to gain their license to sell real estate. This usually requires 90-120 hours of class time, followed by a test with the school and then a test with the state. After which you are deemed an “expert” in real estate.
A Realtor is a real estate agent who has joined the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This means they have gone through some ethics training and have subscribed to a set of rules called the ‘code of ethics’. And they have to pay dues, of course. ((See video))
So what’s the difference?
Well, let’s start with the question, why would a sales agent not want to be a Realtor?
Is it because they don’t want to pay dues? A few hundred dollars a year shouldn’t be too much for someone who is good at what they do.
Or is it because they don’t want to abide by the code of ethics? This seems a more reasonable assumption, given that the state and national associations have committees to hear grievances and hold the members accountable for their actions. And these committees operate separately from the state divisions and can hand down discipline when appropriate.
Also, when considering the fact that your agent will be representing you and your financial interests in such a large investment, wouldn’t you want to work with someone who has taken that extra step to be accountable and go through that ethics training? ((See Video))
NAR also has a political action arm called the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). RPAC fights and lobbies for property rights and those politicians who would support property rights. I think this is one of the most important roles of NAR.
One reason to join NAR is so you can be a part of RPAC and help to protect the rights of individuals who own property, including fighting Eminent Domain, which is the power of a government to take private property for public use; the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution and articles in many state constitutions allow this practice provided that just compensation is made. For more information, see the Eminent Domain Watch.
There are differences between real estate agents and Realtors and I invite anyone to research for yourself and determine which you would rather have working with you.