Is There A Difference Between A Realtor And A Real Estate Agent?

Many real estate owners and prospective property buyers often struggle with the difference between realtors and real estate agents. Some even use these two terms interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Even though both of them are licensed to help people buy and sell real estate, each of their titles refers to a specific type of person in the real estate industry, and there are some differences between the two. Let’s look at these differences between these two professionals so that you can set them apart.

What You Need to Know About Real Estate Agents

These are licensed real estate experts who assist people in buying and selling both residential and commercial properties. He/she can help either as a broker, an associate broker, or a sales professional. To get a license, agents are supposed to have completed a certain number of classes and pass an exam as required by the state.

 young couple looking for properties

However, the regulations and rules for one to obtain an agent license are different in various states. The agent applicant should complete between thirty to ninety hours of class instruction from a reputable technical school, university or college, depending on the state requirements.

After completing the class hours, he/she should take and pass an exam covering national, state, and local practices, laws, and standards in the real estate market.

Also, depending on the state, a real estate agent should pay an annual licensing fee and renew their license after every 1 or 2 years. Some states may require an agent to further their education before they can renew their license.

What You Need to Know About Realtors

A realtor is a real estate professional who is an active member of NAR (National Association of Realtors). And, the term realtor is trademarked. A membership to NAR is not only for brokers and agents, other professionals such as property managers, and real estate counselors can join as well.


For one to join NAR, he/she should have a valid license in real estate, should be active in real estate issues, should have no record of unprofessional misconduct and should have current or recent past bankruptcy cases. Also, members of NAR follow a strict code of ethics to ensure their integrity and protect their clients.

For instance, a realtor should portray the correct market value to a client and refrain from lying about other professionals.

Questions to Help You Point Out the Differences

Can an agent sell or buy real estate without being a realtor? Yes, agents can simply be agents without joining NAR and receiving a Realtor designation.

Does working with a realtor have more benefits than working with an agent? On top of a strong code of ethics, realtors also have multiple resources available.

Depending on what you’re looking for, both an agent and a realtor can help with your purchase or sale. Many times you’ll find a realtor hiring an agent to help with some of their responsibilities. Therefore, even the agent will follow ethics from a professional realtor. Whether you’ve chosen an agent or a realtor, trust them and communicate any concerns or questions. Also, ensure that they’re licensed and discuss the fees involved. This way, you’ll get your desired outcome.