What is the difference between a Realtor® and a Licensed Real Estate Agent

I am glad you asked. Many people think they are no differences when in fact there is a huge difference.

A Realtor belong to the National Association of Realtors®, and the local board of Realtors.  Realtors abide by a code of ethics and as such are held to higher standards.  As part of our membership, we are alerted on new laws affecting real estate, access to legal assistance, market updates, news and so much more.

17 things that a REALTOR® promises to do:

  1. Pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
  2. Shall refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts; and is obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
  3. Shall cooperate with other brokers, agents when it is in the best interests of the client to do so.
  4. Have a duty to disclose if they represent family members who own or are about to buy real estate, or if they themselves are a principal in a real estate transaction, that they are licensed to sell real estate.
  5. Shall not provide professional services in a transaction where the agent has a present or contemplated interest without disclosing that interest.
  6. Shall not collect any commissions without the seller’s knowledge nor accept fees from a third-party without the seller’s express consent.
  7. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without all parties’ informed consent.
  8. Shall not co-mingle client funds with their own.
  9. Shall attempt to ensure that all written documents are easy to understand and will give everybody a copy of what they sign.
  10. Shall not discriminate in any fashion for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
  11. Expects agents to be competent, to conform to standards of practice and to refuse to provide services for which they are unqualified.
  12. Must engage in truth in advertising.
  13. Shall not practice law unless they are a lawyer.
  14. Shall cooperate if charges are brought against them and present all evidence requested.
  15. Agree not to bad mouth competition and agree not to file unfounded ethics complaints.
  16. Shall not solicit another REALTOR’S client nor interfere in a contractual relationship.
  17. Shall submit to arbitration to settle matters and not seek legal remedies in the judicial system.

Why is this important to you?

Because Realtors are kept informed. Just about anyone can get a license to practice real estate. In California, the requirements are 18 years old, legal residence in the U.S., no criminal convictions, complete the required education courses and pass the real estate exam.

This is not to say that real estate agents not affiliated with the National Association of Realtors are unqualified or are unethical, nor does it imply that all Realtors adhere to theses codes.  This is one way to provide regulations for the industry and hold the Realtor® accountable to conduct ourselves in a professional and ethical manner.


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About Linda Urbick Linda

has written 247 articles on this blog.


Filed under: General RE Tips

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