Most of the time, consumers confuse REALTORS and real estate brokers to be the same profession. The title “real estate agent” and "REALTORS" are often used as each other substitutes. But why is it that people use the same term even though they are different? Those who are new to the world of real estate or do not know that the two terms are different often uses the term "REALTORS" as it is easier to pronounce for anyone who helps people buy and sell real estate property.
A real estate agent or broker is an individual who has a state licence to help customers buy or sell properties.
A REALTOR, on the other hand, is a real estate professional, who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and the term REALTORS® is a registered trademark.
The REALTORS receive a licence to sell real estate, but there are some crucial distinctions. According to NAR, the largest trade association in the United States, a REALTORS is a real estate professional who is registered with the association and abides by its Code of Ethics.
REALTORS are expected to be skilled in their field and follow the Code of Ethics and 17 articles consisting of various underlying Standards of Practice. As a REALTORS professional, they have to follow specific duties not just towards clients and customers but also towards the common public and other REALTORS.
Once the real estate professionals obtain the membership in a local association of REALTORS®, they automatically receive membership in the state association and national association. So, in order to get the licence and trademark REALTORS®, they first have to meet all the standards such as certain age, state approved education, acquire state specific licence, and most importantly pass a course on NAR Code of Ethics and periodically renew it after every 4 years.
A REALTORS can work as a real estate agent, a real estate broker and also as an exclusive buyer's agent. Notably, not all NAR members act as real estate agents. Individuals who register with NAR are also professionals such as residential and commercial real estate brokers, appraisers, real estate counsellors, salespeople and also property managers. Currently, more than 1 million real estate agents have registered themselves as REALTORS under NAR.
They belong to a local association or Board and a state association. In order to work as REALTORS, they have to avoid any exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of the property they are dealing in.
REALTORS help customers to market the property or help them locate one. They keep tapping on all the trends happening in the market and use specific tools to market what's best for the customers.
REALTORS also offer legal assistance while filling out contracts; they are required to have the basic knowledge to pass the state level exams. As they are the experts in real estate dealings, they are upto date with the information on everything going in the market related to deals and offers which may not be even listed on any website.
Because they are registered professionals, and they have an enforceable Code of Ethics, if they do anything unethical and the complaint is filed to the Board, they will have to pay fines and penalties. Another advantage that REALTORS offer over an agent is that the association provides them with legal documents to use, which are usually more robust than primary state forms. Whereas while hiring an agent, customers have to pay additional fees to the attorneys to complete the documentation. Customers are more confident while cracking a deal with REALTORS.
REALTORS also take courses and workshops to improve their skills. Most importantly, they have a political advocacy arm that is lobbying for Home Owners Rights.
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was founded in 1980 in Chicago, USA. At the beginning the association had 19 Board members, 120 founding members, and one state association which is the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges. Their objective was to unite the professionals from the real estate in the United States to deliver best practices and services affecting real estate interests effectively.
A real estate agent from Minneapolis Charles N. Chadbourn who was also the vice president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards introduced the term "REALTORS".
The purpose of using this term was for the association members to distinguish themselves from non-members. The association then obtained copyright and trademark for the term "REALTORS" in 1950 in order to protect the title from any misuse.
NAR has strict rules over the use of the term REALTORS. Professionals who have a membership with the association are licenced to use REALTORS® trademarks for their business related to the real estate industry.
If the individual is no longer a part of NAR, then he/she loses the legal right to use the term. As per the guidelines, the member has to use the trademark in all capital letters. The trademark is not a designation of the licensed status of a professional.
Members of NAR - the REALTORS have a team worldwide and through the cooperating associations of NAR, real estate professionals can join NAR and obtain the REALTORS trademark. They can take advantage of the million-plus member organisation operating in various countries.
In the real estate industry, relationships are the key to a successful business; the association works towards the upliftment of its members, ultimately benefiting the customers.
Anyone with a licence can operate as a real estate agent or a broker, but the REALTORS has to be associated with NAR in order to use the term “REALTORS” with their name or business.
With a considerable number of members across the world, NAR conducts a varied range of activities and provides services to its members with a purpose of uniting the professionals from the real estate industry and providing quality services with ethics and guidelines followed.
NAR conducts various events like workshops, conferences and exhibitions to give a platform to its members and demonstrate their work. The association conducts multiple research pertaining to the real estate industry and provides state and national data to its members. Most importantly, NAR participates in advocating Home Owners rights.