AGENT VS. REALTOR:
WHY THE DIFFERENCE MATTERS
Often, we hear the terms “real estate agent” and “REALTOR ®” being used synonymously. To the everyday buyer and seller, they may not think there is much of a difference between the two. What many consumers don’t realize is there are some key distinctions of a REALTOR® that will benefit them in their real estate endeavors.
Whether you’re beginning the search for your next home, or considering putting a property on the market, working with a trusted and reliable real estate professional is the best way to ensure your success. With this being said, it’s so important to understand exactly what a REALTOR® is and how they differ for real estate agents, before making this crucial decision.
REALTOR® and Agent Basics:
Let’s start by nipping the most common misconception in the bud: Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®! By definition, a real estate agent is a sales professional licensed by their state to assist clients in buying, selling, or leasing properties. A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, otherwise known as NAR. At the end of the day, agents and REALTORS® essentially perform the same duties to their clients when representing them in a home sale or purchase. However, REALTORS® have additional access to tools and resources and a stronger expertise of the current market and the industry, all through NAR.
What is NAR?
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is America’s largest trade association with over 1.5 million members including real estate salespeople, real estate brokers, property managers, appraisers, and many more. There are over 1,000 local NAR associations and boards, spanning all 50 U.S. States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Members of NAR are granted access to tools and systems that will only benefit their buyers and sellers, Additionally, members are required to attend an extensive training session every 2-3 years on the organization’s strict Code of Ethics.
THE TWO MAIN DIFFERENCES
- Licensing and Education: All real estate agents must complete an allotted number of hours of pre-licensing courses, pass exams both nationally and within their specific state, and once they receive their license, maintain it by completing national and state continuing education courses throughout their licensure. REALTORS®, while they meet the same education requirements as any other agent, they are required to complete an additional NAR Code of Ethics training every three years. As a member of NAR, REALTORS® also can access courses to earn multiple different designations and certifications include Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), Seller Representative Specialist (SRS), and many more.
- Code of Ethics: One of the key differentiators of being a REALTOR® is that must adhere to the strict NAR Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics outlines how a REALTOR® must conduct business with all clients. Terms include respectful and equal treatment, fair and honest business practice, and a strong commitment to protect the best interest of the client or clients. To put it simply, working with a REALTOR® who diligently follows the Code of Ethics will only protect and benefit you throughout your real estate journey.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A REALTOR®
Ultimately, whether you work with an agent or a REALTOR®, the decision of who you hire is up to you. I’m completely blanking on a transition sentence WOW
Expertise and Specialized Knowledge
REALTORS® are a wealth of knowledge in all areas of a real estate transaction. They consistently keep up with how the market is performing, trends, and property values. Additionally, they are well-versed in the complex legal aspects of a home sale or purchase and can assist clients in navigating contracts, disclosures, or any issues that may arise. Realtors are also skilled negotiators and will work diligently to secure the best possible deal for their clients.
Access to Tools and Resources
If you’re working with a REALTOR®, a tool you’ll hear mentioned often is the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. MLS is an extensive database of properties on the market. A REALTOR® is guaranteed access to MLS, whereas a regular agent may not necessarily be. As a buyer or seller, having MLS gives you a huge advantage in finding the best listings for you, and/or exposes your property to a broader range of buyers. Aside from MLS, REALTORS® typically have established relationships with other real estate professionals including lenders, attorneys, and appraisers.
Commitment to Client Success
As mentioned above, REALTORS® work by a strict code of ethics that protects clients and most likely their largest asset. REALTORS® prioritize their clients’ best interests and serve as their advocate throughout the entire real estate process.
Perhaps one of the most important decision-making factors for a consumer is the cost. While REALTORS® may have a higher commission than a regular agent, the service you will receive is truly worthwhile. They are truly with you every step of the way, are experienced in handling all the complex logistics in a transaction, and are specialized in navigating every curveball the industry may pitch. Still not convinced? Take a look at NAR’s list of 179 Ways REALTORS® are Worth Every Penny.
In conclusion, it’s crucial to understand the differences between a real estate agent and a REALTOR® when embarking on your real estate journey. Although both will assist you in buying or selling a property, REALTORS® bring added expertise and resources to the table. With access to specialized knowledge, essential tools, and a commitment to strict ethical standards, working with a REALTOR® offers invaluable benefits. When making the pivotal decision of choosing your real estate professional, carefully consider these distinctions, as they can ultimately make a substantial difference in your success.
At Lamacchia Realty, we are proud to have REALTORS® in ALL our offices who are dedicated to guiding every client to their success. Empower yourself with the expertise and support that a REALTOR® can provide. Your real estate journey deserves nothing less.