Real Estate Agent vs. Realtor
You’ve probably heard both the terms, realtor and real estate agent, used interchangeably. While they might sound very much the same, there’s a few key differences to each term that you should be aware of. Contrary to popular belief, “Realtor” is not just a simplified nickname for “real estate agent.” Both terms refer to a different type of person who sells real estate. While both terms indicate that the person is licensed to sell real estate, each title refers to a different type of real estate professional. Simply put, a real estate agent is someone who’s licensed to help people buy and sell commercial and residential real estate while a Realtor is someone is who is not only licensed to do the same but is also a member of a trademarked association, the National Association of Realtors. In order to become a Realtor, a real estate agent must become part of this association.
In a nutshell, you can be a licensed real estate agent and NOT be a Realtor, but all Realtors must be licensed professionals.
Requirements to Become a Realtor
You might assume that in order to become an Orlando Realtor, the professional must first be a real estate agent, but that’s not necessarily true. Real estate agents, property managers, appraisers and even real estate counselors and other professionals can become Realtors, but they must be licensed in their field by the State of Florida. To join, they simply have to locate their local National Association of Realtors office, pay the one-time application fee and then wait for approval of their applications by the Board of Directors.
Of course, there’s some prerequisite requirements prior to getting approved, some of which include the following:
- Hold a valid real estate license
- Be active in the real estate community
- Have no record of official sanctions involving a breach in professional conduct
- Have no recent or pending bankruptcy
- Complete ethics training and continuing education requirements
Also, the principal of their organization must join first before you they can join. (The principles are basically the owners of the real estate company the real estate agent works for, such as the sole proprietor, partners and corporate owners.)
Realtor Code of Ethics
Because the National Association of Realtors is an organized association, it naturally has certain rules and etiquette that must be upheld by members in order for them to remain in the association. This code of ethics is what allegedly separates realtors from non-member real estate agents. The entire code consists of 17 articles, 131 explanatory case interpretations and 71 supporting standards. Like the Constitution and many other documents, the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics is a living document that’s been changed and amended many times as necessary over the years. Basically, the Code of Ethics demands that Realtors respect one another and their relationships with clients and that they work together to further the best interest of their clients.
Why Would You Want a Realtor?
While a real estate agent can help you buy and sell property without being a Realtor, having a Realtor just gives you that extra edge. Just like enrolling as a member of any other prestigious organization does, being a member of the National Association of Realtors shows clients that the agent holds himself or herself to a higher level of standards and that they’re truly committed to your profession, a particular code of ethics and what it stands for. You can be more assured that a Realtor will go out of his or her way to protect your interests.