Many people use the terms "real estate agent" and "Realtor" synonymously, even though they aren't the same thing. Read on to learn what the difference is and how to get a Realtor license after getting your state real estate license.
Real Estate Agent vs. Realtor: What's the Difference?
To become a real estate agent, you need to pass a state licensing exam. You'll also need to meet the following requirements:
Be at least 18 years of age
Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
Be a legal resident of the United States
Get sponsored by a licensed real estate broker once you've passed the real estate licensing exam
The term "Realtor," on the other hand, is a trademarked designation for active members of the National Association of Realtors®, or NAR. In case you're someone who pays attention to details, "Realtor" is capitalized; "real estate agent" is not.
Every Realtor is a real estate agent, but not every real estate agent is a Realtor.
How to Get a Realtor License
First off, the term "license" is misleading. Realtors are not licensed in the same way that real estate agents are. The term "licensed Realtor" simply means a person with a state real estate license and a NAR membership.
Here are the steps you must take to become a Realtor:
Get your state real estate license. The license requirements vary slightly from state to state. The best thing to do is check with the government agency that handles licensing in your state for up-to-date information.
Join one of the 1,400 local Realtor's Associations nationwide. One caveat — If you belong to a brokerage group, the lead member must seek NAR membership before anyone else in the brokerage.
Pay the one-time application fee to join your local association. Fees differ from group to group.
Pay an annual membership fee of $150 to the NAR. The fee is billed through your local association.
Once you are a NAR member, you are expected to keep current with professional training.
Why Would Someone Want to Become a Realtor?
Realtors must abide by the NAR Code of Ethics. This code is regularly updated and holds Realtors to a high level of professional conduct. Members must receive Code of Ethics training every three years to remain in good standing.
Here are just some of the articles in the current NAR Code of Ethics:
Realtors must protect and promote their clients' interests. They are duty-bound to the client first, but they must treat everyone involved honestly and disclose relevant information as it becomes available.
They cannot exaggerate or make false claims about the properties they represent.
They are bound to cooperate with other brokers, but only when it is in their client's best interest.
They cannot have a personal interest or stake in a real estate transaction unless they inform their client.
They cannot profit from expenditures made on their client's behalf without informing them. In other words, they can't pocket a rebate for having a new range installed in your home prior to listing.
Another benefit of getting a Realtor's license is that Realtors have access to a huge professional network. They also get to take classes to earn specialized designations and certificates.
It's hard to understand why any real estate professional wouldn't want to become a Realtor.