REALTOR® vs. Real Estate Agent, what’s the Difference?

REALTOR® vs. Real Estate Agent REALTOR

Many people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably – REALTOR® and Real Estate agent…but they aren’t the same.  True, they both are licensed to sell real estate.  But a REALTOR® is someone who goes through additional coursework in ethics, and agrees and adheres to a more stringent guideline for doing business in the real estate world.  It is also a designation of membership in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).  NAR members also belong to one or more of 1,600 local REALTOR® boards or associations across the country.  These local REALTOR® boards are charged with enforcing the code of ethics and reviewing complaints by consumers or clients.

What does it mean for a REALTOR® to subscribe to a higher code of ethics?  It’s not just a random list of rules made up by the NAR that agents swear to uphold.  The Code of Ethics contains 17 articles and underlying Standards of Practice that are strictly enforced.  These Standards are divided into 3 areas: duties to clients and customers; duties to the public; and duties to REALTORS®.  Of course there is no guarantee that REALTORS® are morally or ethically superior than another real estate agent, but it is a sign that they cared enough to pursue and complete the extra coursework required to become a member of the NAR.

There are 17 things a REALTOR® promises to do that you can find here. Here are a few examples from the list of 17 Articles:

  • Pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
  • Refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts; and is obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
  • Shall cooperate with other brokers/agents when it is in the best interest of the client to do so.

In Minnesota, there are approximately 25,000 real estate professionals (agents, brokers, closing agents, abstracters and real estate companies) licensed by the MN Department of Commerce.  Of those on the sales side, the majority are also REALTORS® and the majority of those are clearly doing business in the higher density Twin Cities metropolitan area.  Consider the REALTOR® designation seriously when choosing to work with your next real estate professional.

The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.

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