When Is a Real Estate Agent a REALTOR®?

Who is part of NAR, and what separates real estate agents from REALTORS®? Read about real estate agents, REALTORS®, and understand the differences between the two. Learn how to join National Association of REALTORS® and find a REALTOR®. 

REALTOR® vs. Real Estate Agent: Quick Look

Let's look at simple definitions for real estate agents and REALTORS®: 

Real estate agents are licensed professionals who facilitate property transactions between buyers and sellers. 

REALTORS® are licensed professionals who facilitate property transactions between buyers and sellers and are members of NAR (National Association of REALTORS®), adhering to a strict Code of Ethics and high standards of conduct. All REALTORS® are licensed real estate professionals, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. 

What is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional qualified to help clients buy and sell property. They use knowledge of the local market, property values, and negotiation skills to facilitate real estate transactions for buyers and sellers. 

Agents may work in residential or commercial real estate and handle various aspects of the transaction, like running property searches, organizing or taking clients to showings, drafting purchase agreements, and negotiating real estate contracts. They provide guidance, support, and market insights to buyers and sellers. 

Real estate agents may specialize in specific areas or property types, like residential properties like apartments or single-family homes, or commercial real estate like office buildings or warehouses. Some agents may specialize in land sales or other types of real property. 

To list properties in the United States, individuals must possess a real estate license (unless they are the property owner.) To acquire a real estate license, a person must usually complete a course or a certain number of training and education hours. Depending on the city or state, licensees may also be required to complete and track continued education hours to maintain their real estate agent status. 

What is a REALTOR®?

A REALTOR® is a member of NAR, National Association of REALTORS® as well as a licensed real estate professional. So, in addition to their professional license, they have taken another step in their professional endeavors to join NAR and become a REALTOR®. The term signifies a dedication to professionalism and ethical practices in the real estate industry.  

Beyond the duties of a real estate agent, a REALTOR® pledges to uphold integrity, honesty, and client interests through NAR Code of Ethics and complete ethics training every three years. 

NAR and its affiliated Institutes, Societies, and Councils offer a wide selection of real estate training options. REALTORS® have access to exclusive resources and education, like C2EX (Commitment to Excellence), so they can offer clients an elevated level of service and commitment.  

REALTORS® gain networking opportunities, connecting with peers, mentors, and potential clients. Additionally, NAR advocates for favorable policies that support the real estate market, safeguarding members' interests.  

Join National Association of REALTORS®

By joining NAR, real estate professionals can elevate their expertise, expand their business, and align themselves with a respected community dedicated to excellence. 

To become a REALTOR®, a licensed real estate agent must join their local REALTOR® Association and pay membership dues. 

As a member, you become part of America's largest trade association that represents 1.5 million+ members, including NAR's institutes, societies, and councils, involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others who are engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry. 

Members belong to one or more of nearly 1,400 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®. REALTORS® can network with other professionals, attend a seminar, and keep up with industry trends through events hosted by NAR. 

Additionally, NAR allows members to be active in our appraisal and international real estate specialty sections.  

Check out the That's Who We R consumer advertising campaign that encourages consumers to rely on the expertise and integrity of REALTORS®. 


Whether you're a property owner interested in working with a REALTOR® in your local market or other markets around the globe, or you're seeking guidance or support from a fellow REALTOR®, you can use the online REALTOR® Directory to find a member, office, association, or check state and local listings. 


Do Real Estate Agents Get Benefits?
November 13, 2022

By joining the National Association of REALTORS®, you'll have access to NAR REALTOR Benefits® and its robust network of providers.