Using the "REALTOR®" word correctly

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Shoreline New Hampshire & Maine

Here's the 'quick and dirty' way to ensure you're using the word "REALTOR®" in the proper manner.

Just as all poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles; all REALTORS® are real estate licensees but not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®.

Being a REALTOR® simply means you or your firm are a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

If you just substitute the word "MEMBER" for REALTOR® in trying to figure out property useage, the right answer quickly become apparent.

For example; I'm Jim Lee, REALTOR® or Jim Lee member (of the NAR). So that useage would be correct.

However I can't be "Knoxville's Best REALTOR®" which would mean "Knoxville's Best Member". That's confusing and using the "R" word in an improper context.

Here's a great quiz to test your knowledge of proper use of the "REALTOR® word.

Here's what NAR says about using the REALTOR® word on the Internet:

"Trademark/Logo Use on the Internet

When surfing the Web for real estate homepages, it's quite common to come across sites belonging to REALTORS®. If you are looking to add your own electronic presence on the Internet, it is easy to get caught up in designing your own web page and choosing a domain name which will capture the attention of surfers and make you easily identifiable.

Whether it is the domain name of your home page or other domain names you use to point to your home page, REALTORS® often want to use the REALTOR® marks as part of a domain name or address to distinguish themselves, but they must keep in mind that there are rules governing proper use of the REALTOR® marks that must be adhered to at all times regardless of the media used.

These rules are found in the National Association's Membership Marks Manual, a reference manual available on-line at, explaining proper use of the REALTOR® marks including examples of correct and incorrect uses. Here is a brief list of the principal rules affecting use of the REALTOR® marks in domain names:

  1. The term REALTOR®, whether used as part of a domain name or in some other fashion must refer to a member or a member's firm.
  2. The term REALTOR® may not be used with descriptive words or phrases. For example,,, or are all incorrect.
  3. The term REALTOR® should never be used to denote an occupation or business. Do not combine words like “your,” “my,” “our” or any descriptive words or phrases between your name and the membership mark. and are all examples of improper use.
  4. For use as a domain name or e-mail address on the Internet the term REALTOR® does not need to be separated from the member's name or firm name with punctuation. For example, both and would be correct uses of the term as a part of domain names and jdoe* and are both correct uses of the term as part of an e-mail address.
  5. The REALTOR® block R logo should not be used as hypertext links at a web site as such uses can suggest an endorsement or recommendation of the linked site by your Association. The only exception would be to establish a link to the National Association's web site,, or its official property listing site,

The public has adopted the use of all lower case letters when writing domain names, even those containing trademarks. Therefore, for purposes of domain names and internet addresses only, there is an exception to the rule on capitalization of the term REALTOR® and it may appear in lower case letters.

Whether you use traditional print media or the Internet, it is essential to use the REALTOR® marks in accordance with the rules and guidelines of the National Association. The REALTOR® marks should only be used to denote membership in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS"

Posted by

Jim Lee , REALTOR®, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)  RE/MAX Shoreline

100 Market St., Suite #200, , Portsmouth, NH 03801 Phone: (603) 431-1111 x3801

Visit New Hampshire Maine Real to search homes, get Seacoast area information, and find out how great living on the New Hampshire and southern Maine Seacoast really is.


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Re-Blogged 10 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mark Rienzie 08/06/2010 03:18 AM
  2. Randy Poll 08/06/2010 03:32 AM
  3. Timothy George 08/06/2010 03:41 AM
  4. Karen Dove 08/06/2010 04:26 AM
  5. Jennifer St.Clair 08/06/2010 05:12 AM
  6. Jennifer St.Clair 08/06/2010 05:12 AM
  7. LINDA SABO 08/06/2010 07:40 AM
  8. Bill Buettner 08/07/2010 01:14 AM
  9. Dana Devine 08/07/2010 08:07 AM
  10. Luis Carrillo 09/10/2010 06:11 AM
Real Estate Best Practices
Certified Residential Specialists
proper useage of realtor word

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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Good post. Many agents do not know how to pronounce the word!

Aug 06, 2010 09:42 AM #80
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Erica: I'm betting that ReMax (name) Reality has agents, not realitors--or at least, I'm hoping that they are not NAR members.  Sometimes I think it is entirely too easy to get a real estate license--apparently, that is also true of a broker's license!

Your story about the sign reminds me of a time when I was driving down the road and saw a newly-minted sign being erected in front of a restaurant. It proudly proclaimed "New Dinning Room."

Aug 06, 2010 09:52 AM #81
Gena Z.

thanks for that tid bit of info! 


Aug 06, 2010 10:18 AM #82

Um, yeah. the real term should be realtards lol. But seriously though, i try to leave anything that remotely promotes NAR or Realtor® off of any of my advertising and website. I do that since I was once a non member and was not treated very well by most of the members that had listings and turned me away....with approved buyer in hand

Aug 06, 2010 10:54 AM #83
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Thanks for the post. A little confusing, but always good to go over again.

Aug 06, 2010 10:54 AM #84
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


Quite a few of my clients taling about me with me or without present call me "my realtor" (no capital, nothing, and no member meaning in sight).

For them agent = realtor.

Wuld I start correcting them?

Nope. They can call me whatever they want, and I will have no problem working with them. If you read AR, the majority of even Member of NAR (REALTORS) use it in the meaning "Agents". The fact that NAR has managed to trademark it does not change the fact that general public uses the term realtor to describe real estate professional.

Understanding that they can't change the  perception of the public, NAR is talking about the suggested usage, and that;s where all these all caps, or first cap comes from. But they would rather hold even to smallest of realtors, than acknowledge the absurdity of usurping a generally used name for a narrower use.

Aug 06, 2010 12:10 PM #85
Fred Cope
Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN - Nashville, TN
Looking For Homes With A Smile

Jim, thanks for the reminder and refresher. Lots of good conversation, input and information.  A couple months ago, I was reading some of Brad Andersohn's blogs ( I think of it as "Brad Andersohn University of ActiveRain"), and ran across the following blog on REALTOR®-the-way-it-should-be.  I would encourage anyone wanting to learn about ActiveRain, search "Brad Andersohn", or go to the "staff" tab [you can always find him there].  ActiveRain brings showers of blessings on REALTORS®.

Enter this link in your browser:

Bring a big bucket, and be prepared to read late into the night.  We are not alone in this universe, and the ActiveRain staff is out of sight, but not out of reach.

Finally, with some laptops (because the keypad is incorporated into the keyboard),

(1) you have to hold down the function key while pressing the scroll key) scroll key lock should remain lit.

(2) now hold down the ALT key while typing 0-1-7-4 [the m-j-7-u keys]

(3) release, and you now have the ® mark attached to the word: REALTOR®

Jim, anyone reading the contributions to your post have about four ways to put the ® after REALTOR


Go VOLS!!!

Aug 06, 2010 01:20 PM #86
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Jon, my clients can call me whatever they want as long as they call me when it's time to do business.

The word "REALTOR®" may be a generally used name but it was created by and trademarked by the National Association of REALTORS® so NAR is not usurping anything.

Obviously YMMV

Aug 06, 2010 01:23 PM #87
Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker
Janisch & Co. - Conroe, TX
Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you!

Jim, It's good to have a refresher on the use of our marks.  Even after 20 plus years in the business it doesn't hurt to be reminded because sometimes we get forgetful.  Keep up the good work.

Aug 06, 2010 03:25 PM #88
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Hi Jim!  I see this in emails all the time (one is Gr8realtor...)  I keep thinking they're going to put an end to that but, it's been like that for years!  One thing that I learned early on is that I don't WANT a site that uses that name because so many people don't know how to spell it--they either add an "i" or an "a" in the middle of the word!  Like someone early on said, it's REALLY sad when you hear one of US pronounce it in three syllables! 

Debe in Charlotte

Aug 06, 2010 06:29 PM #89
Roseanne Campagna
John L. Scott RE Maple Valley, WA - Maple Valley, WA
Kent/DesMoines/Blk Diamond/Renton/Maple Valley, WA

Yikes!! It's the logo police!

As a past marketing person, I can certainy appreciate the scrutiny on usage of the term. I think though it is close to being a generic term for the masses.

Aug 06, 2010 08:11 PM #90
Brett Frosaker
Realty Brokers Inc | Columbia Real Estate Group - Seattle, WA

As a Broker, I find it kinda humorous that people are upset by improper pronunciation.  I tell you, if I allowed myself to get offended every time someone mispronounced my name (Frosaker), I'd spend many a day upset.  I like an earlier post that said, "I don't care what they call me as long as they call me".  

As far as NAR requiring it's members to self police; I am not a Realtor, when I have concerns about the actions of another agent, I will, first call the broker, then if no action is taken, report them to the Department of Licensing.  Do I think it would make a bit of difference to report them to NAR?  NOT ONE BIT!  

NAR is really nothing more than a trade organization with a powerful legislative voice which is fueled by the income generated from it's members.  The educational training and brand marketing is a recruitment tool for new members.  

NAR has to present itself as a benevolent trade organization focused on bettering the education and ethics of it's members because by doing so, they shift attention from it's primary goal of benefiting it's members through lobbyist activity.

I know I'm getting a free ride from all the money members spend that go to lobbyist activities.  I do appreciate all the work they do to keep our taxes low, keep banks out of the brokerage business, ect.  I just like to see people be up front with their goals.  In my opinion, Realtors are not necessarily better than non-Realtors.  Some agents are better than other agents, some brokers are better than other brokers.


Aug 07, 2010 01:14 PM #91
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

I have belonged to two different boards since I first got my license and both stressed using Realtor but I often find a problem with getting that little R in the circle to print - for example, in writing this blog post, when I go to use alt-ctrl-r nothing happens. It is not always easy to type the word appropriately even when we know we should.

Aug 08, 2010 08:11 AM #92
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Hey Barbara-Jo, try holding down the "Alt" key and typing "0174 with the number keypad on the right.

I'm not sure what alt-ctrl-r is does if anything.

Aug 08, 2010 08:16 AM #93
Bill Petrey
AgentHarvest - A Real Estate Agent Finder Service - Dallas, TX
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Thanks for the post, Jim. I agree with others herein that we need to be constantly reminded of this and re-educated on the proper use of the term. With all the other things we have to know and keep up on as Realtors, this too, can be confusing and at times, daunting. I worked in marketing before switching to real estate and can appreciate and understand why NAR has an entire department and staff to enusre proper use of the term and registered trademark. You pointed out some things in your blog that I didn't even know so how could I expect the public to know.

Aug 09, 2010 07:48 AM #95
Don Wixom
RE/MAX Advantage Nampa, ID - Nampa, ID
"Looking out for your next move..."tm

Thanks Jim!  That's a great video I can use at my next office meeting!

Aug 10, 2010 02:55 AM #96
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Thanks Don. Try using the quiz with it too. It was a humbling experience for me. ;)

Aug 10, 2010 05:37 AM #97
Nicole Anderson
Lake Homes Realty - Pell City, AL

I couldn't view video...but very interesting information. Thanks for commenting.

Aug 12, 2010 10:03 AM #98
An Marshall
Berkshire Hathaway - St. Augustine - Saint Augustine, FL
Your St Augustine Real Estate Consultant

I see it often in email addresses and  domain names.  but in all fairness, I also inappropriately used it in a log in name, won't make this mistake again!

Feb 05, 2012 12:41 PM #99
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Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH
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