Understanding the Roles: Realtor Vs. Real Estate Agent

Navigating the real estate industry can often be confusing, especially when it comes to understanding the various roles and titles like real estate agent and Realtor. While these terms are frequently used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them. This article aims to demystify these roles, helping you understand which real estate professional can best meet your needs.

Understanding the Real Estate Agent:

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who facilitates the buying and selling of properties. They may specialize in residential or commercial real estate and often focus on specific roles such as listing or buyer’s agents, or even rental agents. To qualify as a real estate agent, one must complete a certain amount of coursework and pass a state examination. This coursework typically ranges from 30 to 90 hours, covering a wide range of topics from property laws to ethics. Real estate agents are also required to renew their licenses periodically, ensuring they stay up-to-date with industry standards and practices.

Becoming a Real Estate Agent:

The journey to becoming a real estate agent involves several key steps:

  1. Understanding the age and education requirements in your state.
  2. Enrolling in approved real estate courses, available both in-person and online.
  3. Passing the state real estate licensing exam.
  4. Gaining experience under a licensed real estate broker.
  5. Applying for and obtaining your real estate license.
  6. Continuing education for license renewal.

Earning Potential of Real Estate Agents:

Real estate agents primarily earn through commissions from property sales. This commission usually ranges between four to six percent of the sale price and is shared among the brokers and agents involved in the transaction. Successful agents often juggle multiple clients to maintain a steady income flow.

Defining a Realtor:

A Realtor is a real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Membership in NAR requires adherence to a strict Code of Ethics and professional conduct. The association, which is the largest trade organization in the U.S., offers its members a reputation for higher ethical standards, attracting more clients. Realtors are known for their commitment to their clients and the industry, often going above and beyond the basic duties of a real estate agent.

Ethical Standards: The Realtor’s Code of Ethics:

The NAR’s Code of Ethics comprises 17 Articles that dictate a Realtor’s duty to their clients, the public, and fellow Realtors. These guidelines include providing honest treatment in all transactions, avoiding exaggeration and misrepresentation, and cooperating with other real estate professionals in the best interest of the client.

Becoming a Realtor:

To become a Realtor, one must:

  1. Join a local NAR chapter.
  2. Pay membership dues.
  3. Complete an online course on the Code of Ethics.
  4. Adhere to NAR’s standards throughout their career.
  5. Retake the ethics course every four years to maintain certification.

Broker Vs. Realtor:

While both brokers and Realtors are licensed to sell real estate, brokers have additional training and can manage their own real estate businesses. Brokers often play a supervisory role, overseeing transactions and ensuring compliance with legal standards. There are various types of brokers, including designated brokers, associate brokers, and managing brokers, each with specific responsibilities.

Broker Earnings:

Brokers earn commissions similar to real estate agents but often receive a larger share since they also manage transaction oversight and office operations.

Working with Real Estate Professionals:

Choosing between working with a broker, Realtor, or a standard real estate agent depends on your specific needs. Each professional offers unique skills and expertise, with Realtors and brokers often providing additional services or having more extensive experience.

The Value of Professional Guidance:

Working with a real estate professional, whether a broker, Realtor, or agent, offers numerous benefits. They bring experience, location-specific knowledge, negotiation skills, and professional connections. This expertise is invaluable in navigating the complex process of buying or selling property.

The FSBO Option:

For those considering selling their homes independently (For Sale By Owner), it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. While this option can save on commissions, it requires significant time, effort, and knowledge of the real estate process.


The roles of Realtor, real estate agent, and broker are intertwined yet distinct. Each plays a crucial role in the real estate industry, catering to different needs and offering varying levels of expertise and service. Regardless of your choice, working with a professional can greatly enhance your real estate experience.

At Remax Success Realty, we understand the importance of choosing the right real estate professional. Our team includes skilled agents, Realtors, and brokers who are well-versed in the nuances of the industry.

We provide comprehensive training and resources to our agents, ensuring they are equipped to offer the highest level of service. Whether you’re buying, selling, or just seeking advice, our team at Remax Success Realty is here to guide you through every step of your real estate journey.

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