Are you looking to rent, buy or sell a home? If yes, you’ll likely work with a real estate agent, realtor, or broker. All these real estate professionals can mediate renting, buying, or selling of property, but they are not all the same.
While their work description involves handling the same real estate transactions, their qualifications and professional capabilities differ. Here is a brief excerpt on the little difference between real estate agents and realtors.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents are salespersons or associates. They are a link between property buyers and sellers and earn a commission from the sales, usually a percentage of the property’s selling price.
Essentially, these are the people you contact when you want to sell or buy a property. They may be independent contractors or part of a real estate broker’s office.
In the US, real estate agents require a licence of operation from their home states as the Federal Government does not regulate the real estate industry. Registration requirements vary by state but have the following common denominators;
- Be a legal US resident
- Be 18 years or older
- Have the least pre-licensing training
- Pass the state real estate agent licensing exams
- Have zero criminal record
- Partner with a licensed real estate broker
How do Real Estate Agents Operate?
If you are a buyer, you may wish to work with a listing agent, while seller’s agents represent property sellers. These agents coordinate the buying and selling processes by:
- Guiding buyers in setting up listing prices
- Check property condition and suggest necessary upgrades
- Market the property on different listing channels
- Prepare home staging
- Negotiation on selling/buying prices, closing costs, and other fees
- Filing paperwork
In most cases, listing agents work with seller agents and facilitate back-and-forth communication with their clients. Listing agents can also work as seller’s agents in different transactions, as in a dual agency.
Who is a Realtor?
On the other hand, a realtor is a real estate professional and a registered member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The NAR is a trade association for all real estate professionals in the United States founded in 1908.
The organization enforces a strict code of ethics and provides its members with various resources, education, and networking opportunities. These members include salespersons, property managers, real estate brokers, and appraisers. Anyone wishing to join the NAR must have a record of professional conduct and a valid real estate license.
To become a realtor, one must:
- Be a member of the NAR
- Comply with the Code of Ethics
- Be engaged in real estate as a profession
Realtors have higher legal obligations than real estate agents because they operate under the stringent NAR Code of Ethics. They also uphold additional 17 Articles that guide them on how to handle various real estate situations.
As a result, they are open to higher levels of scrutiny. For instance, if a realtor files for bankruptcy or conducts themselves unprofessionally, they lose their realtor status.
So Who Should You Work With?
The best way to choose between these two types of real estate professionals is by evaluating your needs. For example, if you need a more experienced professional to help you navigate a complex real estate deal, then you should consider working with a realtor.
On the other hand, if you are working with a simple transaction, then an agent would suffice. However, the distinction does not matter in most cases, as some salespersons may qualify as realtors.
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