July 21, 2024

Understanding the Distinction: Realtor vs Real Estate Agent

When it comes to the world of real estate, two terms are commonly used interchangeably – realtor and real estate agent. While they may seem similar, there are crucial differences between the two titles that every homebuyer or seller should be aware of. In this article, we will delve into the nuances that set realtors and real estate agents apart, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of who you are dealing with in the industry.

The Basics: What is a Real Estate Agent?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. A real estate agent is an individual who has obtained a license to assist clients in buying, selling, or renting real estate properties. They have completed the necessary education and passed the required exams to become licensed professionals in the field. Real estate agents work under the supervision of a broker and are legally bound to act in the best interest of their clients, providing them with guidance and support throughout the transaction process.

What Sets Realtors Apart?

Realtors, on the other hand, are a subset of real estate agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). By becoming a member of this esteemed organization, real estate agents gain the title of “realtor.” However, being a realtor involves more than just a fancy designation – it comes with a set of ethical obligations and a higher level of professionalism.

The Code of Ethics: A Realtor’s Pledge

One of the key distinctions between realtors and real estate agents lies in the adherence to a strict code of ethics. Realtors pledge to uphold the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which outlines the professional standards they must follow. This code includes obligations such as honesty, integrity, and putting the client’s interests above their own. By pledging to these ethical guidelines, realtors provide an added layer of trust and transparency in their dealings.

Access to MLS: Multiple Listing Service

Another significant advantage of working with a realtor is their access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLS is a comprehensive database that contains detailed information about properties listed for sale. It provides realtors with a wider range of options and allows them to search for properties that meet their clients’ specific needs. This access to the MLS gives realtors an edge in finding the perfect home or attracting potential buyers.

Continuing Education and Expertise

While both realtors and real estate agents undergo initial education and licensing requirements, realtors are committed to continuous professional development. They engage in ongoing training and education programs to stay updated with the latest industry trends, laws, and best practices. This dedication to learning ensures that realtors are equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to provide their clients with top-notch service.

Networking and Industry Connections

Realtors, being part of a professional organization, have access to a vast network of fellow real estate professionals. This network allows them to tap into valuable industry connections, such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and contractors. By leveraging these relationships, realtors can provide their clients with trusted recommendations and referrals, making the home buying or selling process smoother and more efficient.

Putting It All Together: Choosing the Right Professional

So, when deciding between a realtor and a real estate agent, it ultimately boils down to your preferences and specific needs. If you value the added layer of professionalism, ethical standards, and access to MLS, a realtor might be the right choice for you. However, if you are comfortable working with a licensed real estate agent and do not necessarily require the additional perks, you can still receive excellent service and guidance throughout your real estate journey.


In summary, the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent lies in the membership to the National Association of Realtors and the adherence to a strict code of ethics. Realtors have access to MLS, engage in continuous education, and benefit from networking opportunities within the industry. Understanding these distinctions will empower you to make an informed decision when seeking professional assistance in your real estate endeavors.