As you begin your journey into Texas real estate, you’ll see a lot of designations, such as Real Estate Agent, Realtor, and REALTOR®. You may be wondering what the differences are, and more importantly, which one you should become. Let’s spell out the distinctions!
Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent
It’s a common misconception that “Realtor” and “real estate agent” mean the same thing. Nope! A real estate agent is someone who has received their real estate license from the state. A Realtor, on the other hand (also written as “realtor” or “REALTOR®”) is someone who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which is the largest trade association in the United States.
The title of Realtor can only be used by those who are members of NAR. You can be a licensed real estate agent or broker without joining NAR, but to be called a Realtor, you have to be a member.
Most real estate agents make the move to become a Realtor because they see the value in belonging to an organization that provides so many benefits.
Get Your Real Estate License First
So, if you want to become a Realtor, the first step is to get your real estate license! Then you can go about joining NAR.
To get your real estate license, you need to:
Be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or equivalent
Have a reputation of trustworthy, honesty, and integrity
Get fingerprinted and pass a background check
Take the Texas real estate licensing exam
Find a sponsoring broker
Learn more about these important steps here.
Benefits of Being a Realtor
Maybe you’ve already gotten your license, but you’re on the fence about becoming a Realtor. Here are some advantages of belonging to NAR.
NAR has more than one million members in the United States. If you join, you’ll have connections all across the country. Having good relationships with other real estate agents is important to helping you build a successful career quickly.
Access to the MLS
As a member of NAR, you’ll have access to their multiple listing service or MLS. These listings are only available to members of NAR, which will give you a leg up over real estate agents who are not Realtors.
Support and Training
NAR offers lots of support and training to its members. They are able to provide legal advice, tax help, workshops on specific topics, and much more.
As a Realtor, you’ll be able to take advantage of discount programs on property and insurance. The NAR credit union can help you secure loans. Corporations such as FedEx also offer discount programs to NAR members.
Code of Ethics
The NAR is known for its Code of Ethics, which hold Realtors to a higher standard of conduct than that required by the law. This means that Realtors have a reputation for being exceptionally ethical and honest, which makes you extra attractive to clients.
How to Join NAR
Membership in a local Realtor association means that you automatically have membership in the state association (that’s the Texas Association of Realtors, or TAR) as well as NAR. So, to join NAR, you first need to join a local Realtor association.
In practice, the way this usually happens is that if your broker belongs to NAR, you will also be given the opportunity to join NAR (and therefore TAR, and whatever local association the broker has chosen).
If you want to be a Realtor, it’s important that the principal of your firm be a Realtor, as the principal of a firm must be a Realtor before any non-principals (that’s you!) can join. Principals are defined as sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, corporate officers or majority shareholders of a corporation, or branch office managers acting on behalf of the principal. Fortunately, most firms will have a designated Realtor so that agents can join NAR.
Check out more of NAR’s guidelines for joining here.
Want to Know More?
Have you decided you want to become a Texas Realtor? Great! To learn how much Realtors make in Texas, check out this page.