Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent: What’s The Difference?

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Buying and selling a home or any property can be quite complicated and may require the help of a professional. In the real estate industry, professionals have titles and names that can be confusing.

Most people outside the industry often use real estate agents and Realtors interchangeably. However, it may come as a surprise that these titles are slightly different from each other. This article discusses what Realtors and real estate agents are and the main differences between the two professions. 

Realtors Vs. Real Estate Agents: An Overview

Realtors and real estate agents are professionals working in the real estate industry. The main difference between these two professions is the certification and qualifications. 

Simply put, while they complete similar jobs, they’re held to different standards. 

Realtors: Who Are They?

Realtor is a trademarked term referring to a real estate professional who’s an active National Association of Realtors (NAR) member. Founded in 1908, NAR is considered the biggest trade association in the world, representing over 1.5 million members in more than 75 countries. If you’re looking for a trusted Coquitlam Realtor to work with, you may consult Bridgewell Real Estate Group.

Generally, you don’t have to be a real estate agent to be a Realtor. This designation is open to various professions within the real estate industry, including appraisers, real estate brokers, property managers, salespeople, or counselors. 

Real estate professionals who want to join this prestigious organization should have a valid real estate license and an excellent professional conduct record. All Realtors must adhere to an extensive Code of Ethics to ensure professional service quality when accepted. 

As such, most people look for Realtors to feel at ease. They know for sure that they’re working with a vetted professional who has sworn to uphold strict professional standards. 

Consequently, most real estate professionals aspire to join the NAR since it gives them a good reputation and helps attract more clients. NAR also has strong bargaining power in both federal and state governments. So, being a part of this large organization provides real estate professionals with better legal protections and benefits. 

Another helpful thing to note is that the term ‘Realtor’ is always capitalized since it’s a trademarked name. NAR coined the term as a way to distinguish members from non-members. 

How To Become A Realtor

To become a realtor, you need to have the same licensing for the specific real estate professional you have. Then, identify and join the local NAR chapter in your state or country. You must pay some fees to join the association. You also should take and pass the course on the Code of Ethics. 

Once you pass, you must follow the strict NAR standard of practice throughout your career. In addition, you need to retake the course every four years to maintain your certification as a Realtor. 

Real Estate Agents: Who Are They?

Real estate agents are those who mainly assist in buying and selling properties. Depending on their specialty, they may work with residential or commercial properties or both. There are different types of real estate agents, depending on the focus of their practice:

  • Listing Agent

Also known as a seller’s agent, a listing real estate agent represents the sellers of a property. They help sellers in staging, marketing, and listing a property. A listing agent also helps negotiate with the buyers on your behalf and works with you until you close the deal. 

  • Buyer’s Agent

The complete opposite of a listing agent, a buyer’s agent works exclusively for those ready to purchase a home or any property. They can help clients look for the most suitable property according to their needs, negotiate prices, meet and hire professionals like inspectors, and handle all the paperwork when closing the deal. 

  • Rental Agent

A rental agent carries out all duties related to managing rental properties. These include finding tenants, leasing management, and providing tenant services. 

How To Become A Real Estate Agent

Each country and state may have varying requirements on the qualifications to be a real estate agent. So, make sure to check with the ones specific to your area. In general, you need to enroll in an approved real estate education course. 

After finishing the course, you must take a licensing exam to ensure you have the necessary knowledge about national, state, and local real estate practices and law. Depending on your area, you may need to have continuous education and renew your license every 1–2 years. 


The real estate industry is already confusing, and the different options for professional help can even seem tricky. This article clarifies the distinction between a Realtor and a real estate agent. 

To recap, both professionals have the necessary license and skills to help in your real estate journey, be it buying or selling. The only difference is that a Realtor has gone one step further and is required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

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March 14, 2023
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