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Lots of us use the term real estate agent and realtor interchangeably. However, these two words are two different things. Not all agents are REALTOR, but most are. If you're unsure, you can always ask your real estate agent if they are a licensed REALTOR. 

In this article, we will focus on defining what a REALTOR is and how it differs from other real estate titles. 

What is a REALTOR?

Realtors are licensed real estate salespeople who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It is a professional association and the largest trade group in the country. As defined by NAR, the realtor is a term used as a collective membership mark that is federally registered. A real estate professional is identified as a realtor if he's a member of the said association and subscribes to its code of ethics.

Put merely, REALTORS are held to a higher ethical standard compared to a licensed real estate agent. 

Some REALTORS are agents, while others are brokers. 

Most people are confused with real estate titles like realtors, brokers, and real estate agents. Most of the time, they are used interchangeably. Although there may be overlaps in what they do, these three titles are distinctly different. It's true, particularly on their position on the professional ladder and their qualifications. 

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How REALTORS differ from real estate agents and brokers

As mentioned above, REALTORS are members of the National Association of Realtors. They can hold any position in the real estate industry.

It's different from a real estate agent because agents are licensed professionals that facilitate real estate transactions. They work for brokerages and are paid commissions for their sales. 

Brokers, on the other hand, are more qualified and more experienced. They can work independently and have other agents work for them. 

Understanding realtors 

Real estate professionals who have realtor titles include agents working as commercial and residential real estate salespeople, brokers, appraisers, and property managers. Over a million real estate agents are also realtors.

Realtors are expected to obey the association's code of ethics and to be experts in this industry and chosen fields. It requires real estate agents to uphold specific duties to the customers, clients, other realtors, and the public.  

The typical REALTOR

Lots of people have the wrong perception of REALTORS. The stereotypical real estate agent only works for a few hours a day and gets millions from his commission each year. In most TV shows, you will see home buyers find their dream home after visiting only three to five houses. The written offer will be accepted immediately. However, in reality, it's far from the truth. 

The truth is, the REALTOR works with the typical buyer, and the search may last for about 12 weeks. Also, NAR states that most buyers will need to visit about ten properties before they can decide which home to move in. On average, they need to wait for about 30 days to close the deal. The real estate agent will only get paid once the deal is successfully closed. 

The agent will not be compensated if the buyer decides not to buy the property or sign another lease. This works similarly to listings. The agent will not be paid if the listing does not sell. 

How to choose the right realtor or real estate agent

Now that you are finally aware of the differences between a real estate agent and a realtor, it's time to learn how to choose the best real estate professional who will help you close a sale. Whether you want to work with a real estate agent or a realtor, choosing the right real estate professional remotely or face-to-face is crucial to attain a successful property transaction. So, how do you select the right real estate professional for you?

- Check the real estate professional's portfolio: If you're looking into buying or selling a private home cabin or vacation house, you might want to work with a real estate agent or realtor who has experience selling such types of properties. Ask about the kind of clients the real estate professional usually handles to get an idea and also check the company's website for offered services. 

- Read testimonials: There are many review websites dedicated to providing feedback about the different real estate agents and companies. They also list testimonials of previous clients and provide information about which real estate agents or realtors have been recommended.  If an agent has bad reviews, then you should avoid them. They may not be good for you and will just cost you more in the long run.

- Ask for references: When you are looking for a real estate agent or realtor, it's a good idea to ask for references. They should be able to provide you with positive testimonials and recommendations, and may even have some for their competitors. 

- Interview your prospects: Once you have found an estate agent who meets your needs, you can begin talking to them. Ask about specific services, and talk to previous clients to see how the process went. This is a great way to find out which ones have good customer service skills and will work to help you with your purchase. 


As mentioned, there are various real estate titles and professionals in the industry. If you need their services, you can search for different professionals in your area using the internet. Search for a REALTOR database that includes their specialties, sales performance, reviews, and other helpful information. This will help you determine if they are a good fit for the transaction you are looking for.