What’s the Difference Between a Realtor and Real Estate Agent?

what's the difference between a realtor and real estate agent vs property broker

In 2019, more than 5 million existing homes were sold in the United States. On top of that, 682,000 newly constructed homes were sold in the same year.

Whether you are buying a home or selling a home, the process is probably going to take over your life for a period of time. When you’re dealing with such an expensive asset, it makes sense to take each and every decision during the process very seriously.

Because buying and selling real estate can be complicated, many people choose to hire a real estate professional to help guide them through the process.

What is the difference between a realtor and real estate agent, though? Believe it or not, these terms are often used incorrectly. Let’s take a look at what the difference is to help you understand who you should hire when it’s time to buy or sell a house.

What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and Real Estate Agent?

People often use the term “realtor” and “real estate agent” interchangeably. However, these two terms do not mean the exact same thing.

Basically, realtors are real estate agents that have become members of the National Association of Realtors. This is the largest trade association in the entire United States. You might not realize it, but “realtor” is actually a term that has a trademark at the end of it.

A real estate agent is a specific type of real estate professional, while a realtor can be a number of different types of real estate professionals. What all realtors have in common is that they belong to the NAR.

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What Is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a person who has received a license in order to help other individuals sell, buy, and rent real estate. They are basically responsible for bringing sellers and buyers together. They are typically paid a percentage of the sale price of the property as their commission. You also might hear the terms “real estate salespeople” or “real estate associates” to refer to real estate agents.

There is not a federal license for becoming a real estate agent. Instead, agents can become licensed in their state and neighboring states. The requirements in order to receive a license very between states.

There are some commonalities between the requirements in most states, however. In general, real estate agents must:

  • Be a legal resident of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Cake and complete the prelicensing class that is required by their state
  • Pass the real estate license exam that is given by their state
  • Be sponsored by a licensed real estate broker
  • Complete a background check
  • Complete continuing education classes in order to maintain their license

The role of a real estate agent is to organize transactions between owners and renters as well as transactions between buyers and sellers. They carry offers and counteroffers between parties and answer questions that these parties might have. The real estate agent will also help to guide their clients through the paperwork stages of the process.

Some real estate agents only represent sellers. These agents are called listing agents. Other real estate agents only represent buyers and are known as buyers agents.

What Is a Realtor?

As mentioned earlier, a realtor is a real estate professional that belongs to the National Association of Realtors. Even though people frequently use the term realtor to refer to real estate agents, there are actually a number of different professions within the real estate industry that can be filled by a realtor.

These include salespeople, commercial and residential real estate brokers, appraisers, and property managers.

There are four requirements that anyone who desires to become a realtor must meet. These are:

  1. Not have a record of official sanctions that involves any unprofessional conduct
  2. Have an active and valid real estate license
  3. Not have filed for pending or recent bankruptcy
  4. Be actively engaged in the real estate business

If an individual meets these requirements, they can then join one of the local real estate associations of the NAR. They will then be responsible for paying a one-time application the along with annual membership dues. They are also required to subscribe to the strict Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors.

What Is a Broker?

Another term hereof likely heard in relation to real estate professions is that of a broker. A real estate broker is an agent who pursues further education and receives a real estate broker license from their state.

Property brokers are able to start their own brokerage and hire other real estate agents. They also might choose to work independently, which real estate agents are not able to do.

Why Should I Work With a Real Estate Professional?

Whether you are buying a home or selling a home, it is advisable to hire a real estate professional. While the commission may take might seem steep, you can often get a better deal no matter what side of the transaction you’re on when you work with a real estate agent.

Real estate professionals will have experience that will be vital to your purposes. They also will know your area very well to be able to guide you through the buying or selling process. On top of that, they are skilled in the art of negotiation and also have a vast network of professional connections that can help you in your real estate transactions.

Hiring a Real Estate Professional Can Be a Good Idea Whether You’re Buying or Selling

While it might be tempting to try and avoid hiring a real estate professional when you are buying or selling a house, it often makes sense to have a professional on your side. The world of real estate and real estate law is actually quite complicated, and you might find that it is worth the cost to have someone that can help guide you through the process.

Did you find this article on the difference between a realtor and real estate agent interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content on property management! Visit the Real Estate section above for more articles on selling homes, flipping houses, investing in land, mortgages, and much more.