REALTOR®, agent, associate broker - the terminology can be confusing when you’re starting a real estate career in Colorado. While most states have real estate agents or salespeople, Colorado has associate brokers and employing brokers.
Being a REALTOR® is a different thing altogether. REALTOR® is a special designation given to agents and brokers that pledge to hold themselves to higher ethical standards. Here’s a look at why not every agent (or associate broker) can call themselves a REALTOR® and how you can become one.
Get Ready to Join the National Association of REALTORS®!
The only way to tout the REALTOR® moniker is to join the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). It’s the largest trade organization in the country and one of the oldest. NAR began over 110 years ago. The REALTOR® designation was established in the early 1900s as a way to help consumers distinguish members from non-members.
NAR now has associations at the state and local levels that serve over 1 million members. The local associations carry out the day-to-day tasks of ensuring area REALTORS® are adhering to the Code of Ethics, holding training sessions and issuing memberships.
The Benefits of Being a Colorado REALTOR®
Being associated with NAR is a very good thing for real estate professionals on a lot of levels. For starters, it’s a well-known and respected organization that can give real estate agents more credibility, especially when you’re new. While being able to call yourself a REALTOR® is reason enough to join NAR, there are plenty of other perks:
- NAR works on behalf of real estate professionals at the federal level to help prevent unfair laws or practices from impacting the industry.
- You get exclusive educational opportunities through NAR that can help you market your services and corner a niche.
- The chance to earn certifications and additional designations.
- NAR members must agree to follow a Code of Ethics & Professional Standards, which gives them a reputation for being ethical real estate experts.
- There are opportunities to network and connect with REALTORS all over the country.
- You can on a huge selection of products and services through the REALTOR Benefits Program.
Steps to Becoming a Colorado REALTOR®
Step 1. Get a Colorado Real Estate License
Before you can become a Colorado REALTOR® you must be a licensed broker associate that’s actively working in the real estate industry. NAR requirements also include no record of professional misconduct and no recent bankruptcy.
Other licensed professionals that can join NAR include: Property managers Real estate counselors Appraisers Employing brokers
In order to join NAR, you’ll need to fill out an application. Honesty is always the best policy given that NAR takes ethical matters very seriously.
Step 2. Make Sure Your Brokerage is a NAR Member
Before a licensed salesperson can join NAR their brokerage’s principals must join. Brokerages that are a part of NAR will want their affiliates to become NAR members as well since they are assessed a fee for non-members.
Not sure if your employing broker is a NAR member? Contact NAR and they can look up the information for you, including all of the affiliated associations.
Step 3. Find Your Local NAR Association
Your local NAR association handles new memberships. Joining the local association of REALTORS® will automatically qualify you for membership in the national and state associations. There are over 1,400 local associations nationwide so there’s sure to be one in your market.
INSIDER TIP: Does your brokerage have a designated REALTOR® in more than one city? You can choose to join the association in any of the cities where there’s a designated REALTOR®.
Step 4. Submit an Application and Pay the One-Time Application Fee
You’ll submit a membership application with the local association. There will also be a one-time application fee that must be paid when you apply. The fee varies from one association to the next. The good news is fees and dues are tax deductible no matter what association you join.
Step 5. Pay the Prorated NAR Membership Dues
Once your membership is approved by the Board, you’ll have to pay prorated NAR membership dues to become an official REALTOR®. The amount paid depends on when you join in the year. The annual dues are currently $150 ($12.50 per month).
Also, be aware there can be special assessment fees that are due as soon as a new member joins. For example, in 2020 and 2021 all members have to pay a $35 assessment for the Consumer Advertising Campaign.
That’s it! Complete the five steps above and you can start adding the REALTOR® designation to your marketing materials and yard signs.