Written by 5:07 am Real Estate

What is The Difference Between a Realtor and Real Estate Agent?

realtor and real estate agent

Are you planning to buy or sell a property and wondering what the difference is between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent? These are two commonly used terms in the real estate industry, but many people are unaware of the key differences between the two.

The main difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent is the membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Realtors are members of NAR, while Real Estate Agents are not. This membership provides Realtors with access to resources, education, and professional standards that are not available to Real Estate Agents.

Let’s take the realtor vs. real estate agent discussion a step further. In this article, you will learn about the main differences between Realtors and Real Estate Agents, the benefits of working with each, and how to find the right real estate professionals.

What is a Realtor?

A Realtor is a licensed professional member of the National Association of Realtors. Realtors are involved in buying and selling real estate properties and must abide by a strict code of ethics established by the NAR.

To become a Realtor, individuals must have a valid real estate license, complete additional education and training, and pass a background check. They must also agree to abide by the NAR’s code of ethics.

Working with a Realtor can be beneficial due to their access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database of properties for sale that is unavailable to the general public. They also have access to other resources and education to help them better serve their clients.

What is a Real Estate Agent?

A Real Estate Agent is also a licensed professional in buying and selling real estate properties. Like Realtors, Real Estate Agents are required to have a valid real estate license and pass a background check.

To become a Real Estate Agent, you must pass a licensing exam and complete a certain number of hours of pre-licensing education. However, they do not have to be a National Association of Realtors member or abide by its code of ethics.

The limitation of working with a Real Estate Agent is that they need access to the same resources and education as a Realtor, and they are not required to follow the same code of ethics as Realtors.

Differences between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent

Licensing Requirements 

Realtors and real estate agents require licensing to work in their respective fields. All real estate agents need a license, while only some can become Realtors since they must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 

Professional Organizations 

Real estate agents can belong to professional organizations but may not be members of the NAR or a local board like a Realtor would be. Being a member of the NAR requires additional training and continuing education, as well as abiding by the organization’s code of ethics. 

Access to MLS Listings 

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is an online resource that allows real estate agents and Realtors to list, search, and compare properties for sale. The MLS is only available to license real estate agents or members of the NAR and provides access to more comprehensive listings than what can be found online. This gives Realtors an advantage over real estate agents in terms of research and knowledge about the local market. 

Benefits of Working with a Realtor or Real Estate Agent 

Realtors and real estate agents provide valuable services that help buyers and sellers reach their desired outcomes when buying or selling a home. However, knowing what kind of services you will get working with each real estate professional is essential as to how these services can benefit you. 

Working with a Realtor

A realtor will have access to MLS listings, allowing them to quickly find potential homes for buyers and ensure that sellers’ homes are accurately listed on the market. Plus, they have more knowledge of the local market and can provide helpful advice to buyers and sellers who need to make informed decisions. 

One advantage is that Realtors can better provide specialized services based on their advanced knowledge of the local market. They understand current real estate trends and local zoning laws and have insights into what to look for in a property. They can advise how best to price or stage a home to attract the right buyers. 

Working with a Realtor provides peace of mind since they must adhere to strict ethical standards defined by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). This includes avoiding conflicts of interest between buyer and seller, maintaining confidentiality in all transactions, and providing honest, professional advice at all times.  

In short, hiring a Realtor means having an experienced professional committed to helping you achieve your real estate goals while protecting your interests throughout the process.

Working with Real estate agents

Real estate agents are an excellent option for buyers and sellers who want to be more hands-on with the process, as they are not required to join the NAR or adhere to any particular set of guidelines or regulations. They have access to MLS listings which provides almost all of the same information as Realtors, but without needing to become a member of the NAR. Additionally, real estate agents can provide valuable insights into the local market due to their experience in buying and selling homes. 

Real estate agents also provide an advantage in terms of cost-effectiveness since they do not need to pay membership fees or adhere to additional training requirements like Realtors. This means that real estate agents often have lower rates than Realtors while still providing similar services. Furthermore, real estate agents sometimes have access to special deals and discounts from other real estate professionals that they can pass on to their clients. 

Overall, real estate agents offer an invaluable service for those seeking assistance in buying or selling a home without adhering to specific guidelines or paying additional membership fees. Generally, they offer competitive rates compared to Realtors – making them an excellent choice for those looking for help navigating the home-buying process.

How to Choose the Right Realtor or Real Estate Agent for You 

The best way to find a realtor or real estate agent is by asking around your community and/or getting referrals from friends and family. This will give you a general idea of what options are available and what experiences others have had with them. It is also essential to consider their experience, education level, customer service, communication style, and availability when making your choice.


In summary, the main difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent is the membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Realtors must abide by a strict code of ethics and have access to resources and education to help them better serve their clients, while Real Estate Agents do not have these benefits.

Understanding these two terms is important when choosing a professional to help you buy or sell a property.

We recommend working with a Realtor, as they have access to more resources and education and have to adhere to a higher standard of ethics.

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Last modified: January 24, 2023