Definition of "REALTOR®"

Jenn  Atkinson real estate agent

Written by

Jenn Atkinsonelite badge icon

Silvercreek Realty Group

The two terms used to describe professionals in the real estate industry are “realtor” and “real estate agent”. These two terms are used interchangeably or as synonyms. Using them as synonyms can create confusion as there are differences between real estate agents or REALTORS®. While their professional activity is so similar, their status is different. Confusion can happen because a REALTOR® is a real estate agent that is licensed and is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which is the largest trading group in the US. The meaning of REALTOR®, according to NAR, is a membership mark that is federally registered, through which a real estate professional can be identified as a part of the association and also as a person that adheres to their code of ethics.

As we mentioned that a REALTOR® is a real estate agent, it is easy to see where the confusion comes from, but a real estate agent can be a REALTOR® or not. The definition of the term REALTOR® comes from their license of REALTOR®, hence the ® that comes with the term. 

REALTORS® are considered higher on the payroll than real estate agents and are also held to a higher ethical standard even when compared to licensed real estate agents. REALTORS® can specialize in various fields but choosing a REALTOR® depends on what you need.

Being a REALTOR®

In order to keep their title, REALTORS® need to belong to a local association or board, while at the same time also belonging to a state association. It is expected of REALTORS® to be the best in their respective fields. Because of their membership in the National Association of REALTORS®, a REALTOR® must always respect the Code of Ethics that underlines various duties towards clients, the public, or other real estate professionals. The use of the trademark for REALTORS® is strictly regulated and controlled by the NAR under specific guidelines and strict rules.

What can REALTORS® become

REALTORS® don’t necessarily work as real estate agents, but that is among the most common professions for them. Another option would be to work as a real estate broker at a company. Brokers are in charge of running the agency, and they employ real estate agents to work for them. They can also have assistants. Most importantly, they operate a much more sustainable system through which they can limit their time on the road as real estate agents and delegate tasks to their employees to maximize profit. Brokers can own real estate brokerage businesses or entrusted to run a franchise operation.

Some other job opportunities for REALTORS® are property managers, counselors, appraisers, as well as other professions related to the real estate market.


Real estate tips:

Learn more by visiting several other terms on our Real Estate Glossary!

Find a real estate agent: we have tons of REALTORS®  in our agent directory!

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