What's the Difference Between a REALTOR® and a Real Estate Agent?

Real Estate Agent with Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 SA5376460000

The two terms "REALTOR® and Real Estate Agent seem interchangeable, but are they?   After all they both speak to a person selling real estate, right? They both identify a person who can help you buy and sell a home, so why the different terms?  


This is a question that surfaces from time to time.  The basic difference is that a REALTOR is a member of the National Assocation of REALTORS (NAR) and subscribes to their Code of Ethics.  Anyone earning a real estate license is a real estate agent, but membership to NAR entitles that agent to become a REALTOR®.


What difference does that make?  


The National Association of REALTORS® is the single largest lobbying organization with over 1 million members across the nation.  They lobby on behalf of homeowners' rights, protecting the mortgage interest deduction for example.  Without those efforts, millions of American's would lose that deduction.  


Subscribing to the Code of Ethics means that your REALTOR® works diligently and with ethics to make sure you are represented honestly and fairly.  They will be your fudiciary in all real estate dealings.  


The Code of Ethics is a strict form of compliance protecting homeowners in the purchase, sale, rental of real estate and land.  These are the founding principals for the National Association of REALTORS®.  In fact the code was established before state laws. 


The link above for the Code of Ethics reflects in detail REALTOR duties and the standard to follow.  Among them are the following:



Agency duties

Fiduciary dutes

Cooperation with other agents, unless not in the best interests of the client

Disclosure as a REALTOR in all dealings


Informed consent 

Copies of all signed documents

Treat everyone fairly and does not discriminate

Act within their field and not practice outside their area of expertise

Truth in advertising

Shall not practice law, but refer clients to attorneys

Not make false claims

Interfere with agency relationships between another agent and a client

Mediate and/or dispute without litigating first between brokerages


As a REALTOR®, these guidelines must be adhered or said REALTOR® will face administrative action punishable by fines, extra classes, and potentially lose their real estate license if the action is severe in nature.  


Subscibing to this strict Code of Ethics by membership sets the tone for business conduct for REALTORS®. Working with a REALTOR® who subscribes to the Code of Ethics is a good business practice. 


If you are looking for an honest, fair, and experience REALTOR, give me a call!




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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Debbie Reynolds 06/22/2017 06:00 AM
Real Estate Best Practices
Arizona Maricopa County Scottsdale
Posts to Localism
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Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jan you are preaching to the Choir here, many will disagree with you and me but you are spot on...and it annoys me when the public uses it interchangeable, we as Realtors are to blame for that, Endre

Jun 17, 2017 11:59 PM #1
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Yes, I know Endre Barath, Jr. !  I didn't write it for us, as you know.  Anyway, I agree and it is frustrating.  If the real estate population would be more professional it would help.  Agreed! 

Jun 18, 2017 05:49 PM #3
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good Morning Jan - in the public' mind they don't understand but being a Realtor says you are a committed professional. 

Jun 20, 2017 09:00 AM #4
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Nice job explaining the difference. I try very hard to not use the Realtor term to denote a real estate agent. I teach prelicense and have to be very careful.

Jun 21, 2017 06:37 PM #5
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Jan. You have done a terrific job here explaining what mosy consumers don't know about our industry.

Jun 22, 2017 06:38 AM #6
Jim Cheney
Saint Francis Property Santa Rosa, CA - Santa Rosa, CA
Rincon Valley Realtor 707.494.1055

Jan Green you are so correct.  People think Realtor and Real Estate agent are synonymous.  Other than subscribing to a code of ethics, I like the access to Zipforms and the free CE.

Jun 22, 2017 06:52 AM #7
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jan, 

As a REALTOR®, I use this term to describe me all the time. But I can also use it in general terms which I should be more cognizant of.  Great blog!

Jun 22, 2017 07:48 AM #8
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Good point Grant Schneider !  

That's a good way to put it Debbie Reynolds ! 

Thank you Sheila Anderson !  So true.  Most have no idea and use the terms interchangeably.

Yes, there are other benefits to being a REALTOR®  Jim Cheney .  And zipforms is a good one, too. 

Thank you for commenting Sheri Sperry - MCNE® .  Interesting point!

Jun 22, 2017 02:11 PM #9
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor e-Pro, CRS, RCS-D, Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

I have to remind folks of this often. I did a similar post years ago, I used to include ith with my new client info... gotta go brush the dust off it. Congratulations! Thanks for the post and my team and I in San Diego  are sending all our best for a great weekend!

Jun 22, 2017 09:36 PM #10
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Yes there IS a difference...and can't say that we know any real estate agents in our market.

Jun 23, 2017 01:41 AM #11
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for your comments Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, CRS !  I'm sure your post is better than mine.  Have a wonderful weekend as well!

A big difference between the 2 for sure Sally K. & David L. Hanson .  Have a wonderful weekend!

Jun 23, 2017 08:15 AM #12
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Jan Green

HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN
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