Difference Between Realtor and Real Estate Agent

Are Realtors And Real Estate Agents The same?

The real estate industry is vast and diverse, brimming with numerous professionals that help individuals navigate the intricate process of buying or selling properties.

Among these professionals, two titles often pop up interchangeably: realtor and real estate agent.

While they may seem synonymous to the uninitiated, there are crucial distinctions that set them apart.

In this article, we’ll delve deep into these roles and the differences between them.

The Basics of Real Estate Professionals

Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to understand the overarching category of real estate professionals.

Both realtors and real estate agents operate within this realm, aiding clients in various property transactions.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is an industry professional who has undertaken the necessary education and state examination to earn a real estate license that allows them to legally assist clients in buying, selling, or renting properties.

They act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.


A realtor is a real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The NAR is a trade association in the United States, and its members adhere to a strict code of ethics that often exceeds state laws.

Digging Deeper: Key Distinctions

Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s explore the differences between these two roles in detail.

Membership and Affiliation

The most prominent difference is membership in the National Association of Realtors.

Being a realtor means being a part of this association, while being a real estate agent does not require such membership.

NAR provides its members with resources, tools, and networking opportunities that aren’t necessarily available to non-members.

Code of Ethics

One of the pillars of NAR is its strong emphasis on professional conduct.

Realtors pledge to follow a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics that promotes the fair, ethical, and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction.

While all real estate agents must work within state laws and regulations, realtors have the additional ethical obligations laid out by NAR. This can provide additional peace of mind for clients.

Training and Education

Both realtors and real estate agents must undergo initial training to obtain their licenses.

However, realtors have the added advantage of accessing more specialized courses, workshops, and seminars provided by NAR.

This continuous education helps them stay updated with industry trends and best practices.

Marketing and Resources

Realtors often have a wider range of marketing tools and resources at their disposal, thanks to NAR. The distinctive “Realtor” logo is a recognized brand, symbolizing trust and expertise.

Using this logo can give agents an edge in the market, signaling their commitment to ethical practices.

Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a realtor and a real estate agent largely depends on individual preferences and needs.

Prioritize Ethics and Standards

If you prioritize strict ethical standards and want someone who adheres to a renowned code of ethics, a realtor might be the better choice.

Seek Specialized Knowledge

If you’re looking for an agent with potentially more training and access to specialized knowledge, a realtor might have the edge due to NAR’s continuous education programs.

Budget Considerations

While it’s not universally true, realtors might sometimes charge slightly higher fees than non-affiliated agents, given the added resources and branding they bring to the table.

Always discuss fees upfront, whether you’re considering a realtor or a real estate agent.


The world of real estate is filled with nuances that can sometimes be overwhelming.

While both realtors and real estate agents are equipped to assist you in property transactions, the distinction lies in affiliation, ethics, training, and resources.

It’s essential to assess your needs, conduct thorough research, and even meet with potential candidates before making a decision.

Remember, whether you choose a realtor or a real estate agent, the most critical factor is trust, professionalism, and your comfort level with the individual.