October 26, 2022

Realtor vs Real Estate Agent

Do you like realtors? Or you prefer to hire a real estate agent? We are not going to ask this provocative question, which always causes a heated discussion in the comments. For most of us, buying or selling real estate is a very important decision, since most people buy houses once in a lifetime. But still, what is the difference between realtor and real estate agent and who is more pleasant to work with? What are the requirements for specialists in this field? In the article we will try to open up the terminology and responsibilities of these specialists.

The difference between a realtor and a real estate agent

The business of selling and buying property is called real estate. The person who represents the buyer or a seller is a real estate dealer or real estate agent. Need to be mentioned that realtors perform many functions of real estate agents. Of course, there are similarities in the roles of real estate agents  and realtors, but there are also differences that will be discussed in this article. 

A real estate agent is a person who represents sellers or buyers of real estate or real property. The agent has limited powers in the preparation and execution of the transaction, only helps the responsible realtor. A realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a professional association. The NAR defines the term realtor as a federally registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the association and subscribes to its code of ethics. The realtor responsible for the transaction is responsible for issues related to checking the legal history of the object. These differences allow clients to reach out to the right person depending on their requirements.

Real Estate Agent

To be honest, this is the general name of the profession. Anyone who is engaged in renting, buying and selling houses, apartments, condos, rooms, commercial premises, etc., can call themselves a real estate agent. Regardless of the time of work, experience and membership in professional organizations. 

As buying a house requires a lot of investment real estate agents assist in the sale and purchase of property. They charge a commission as a percentage of the sale price as their remuneration being a person licensed to assist in the sale and purchase of real estate in his state. Solving the tasks of clients, he/she chooses the necessary object, studies the supply and demand in the labor market, looks for buyers or sellers of real estate, concludes contracts. 

Licensed real estate agent

Some agents like to add the word licensed emphasizing the fact that they have a valid license. Indeed, in the USA, the activity of a real estate agent is subject to mandatory licensing, i.e. you need to undergo some training, pass exams and get a coveted license. But it is relatively easy to get a license and everyone has it (well, almost everyone – we know of cases when people worked without a license). So once again emphasizing this fact and presenting it as an achievement is like being proud that you can read and write.

The only exception is when the agent says that he is licensed in a certain state. Licensed in the state of New York does not mean that the agent is so cool that he could even get a license, but only indicates the territory of the agent's work.

Summing up

The position of a real estate agent, in fact, includes one large scale task - to find and pick up real estate with its subsequent purchase, sale or rental. Some real estate agents are also realtors due to the fact that they are members of the National Association of Realtors, or NAR for short. NAR members are expected to adhere to a strict code of ethics, which makes the title of realtor more attractive than a simple real estate agent.


Realtor is a word that can often be heard in the real estate industry. In world practice, a realtor is primarily a professional seller, an expert in real estate transactions, who helps to build a sale, get the most favorable offer from the market. The realtor advises the client on choosing the most suitable type of object for purchase, organizes the search, conducts negotiations and bargaining in the interests of the client.

We found that many real estate agents use this word in their name, so it becomes unclear to people whether they should contact a simple real estate agent or a realtor for the purpose of buying or selling property. Realtors are real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Thus, if you see a real estate agent using the title of a realtor against his name, you can assume that he is also a member of the NAR.

NAR has an ethical code that all realtors must comply with. It is this code of ethics that distinguishes ordinary real estate agents from those who have decided to become members of the NAR. A high level of professionalism, honesty and decency is expected from realtors, and only a qualified real estate agent can display the image of a realtor on his business card.

Broker or Real Estate Broker 

In the US market, a broker can only be called a real estate agent Real Estate Salesperson who has completed additional training, passed exams and received a broker's license. And most importantly: to obtain a brokerage license, you need several years (often two years) to work as an ordinary agent and close a certain number of transactions (about one and a half to two dozen). Accordingly, the broker says that this is an experienced agent with a considerable number of transactions in the track record. A broker can work for some company and then be called an Associate Real Estate Broker. But unlike the agent Real Estate Salesperson, the broker also has the opportunity to work for himself and open his own company. The main broker in the company is called Principal Real Estate Broker or simply Real Estate Broker.

What can a realtor do and an agent can't?

The official rules of work require specifying the type of agent's license in the contact information, so, for example, in an email or in an advertising postcard from the real estate representative, you can see three options in the signature – Real Estate Salesperson, Associate Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Broker.

Among all the terms described above, you are guaranteed to work with a person who decided not yesterday to try himself in the profession, but already has several years of experience and has closed a lot of deals during this time.