In the “Ghostbusters” song, Ray Parker Jr. sings, “If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?” and everyone immediately shouts: “GHOSTBUSTERS!” But when it comes to real estate, that same question becomes a whole lot harder to answer. Do you call a REALTOR® or a real estate agent? What about a broker? Aren’t they all the same anyway?
They aren’t the same and a part of the problem is that most people don’t know the difference between the three and tend use the terms interchangeably. So what exactly is the difference between REALTORS®, brokers and real estate agents?
REALTORS® and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics
What sets REALTORS® apart from agents and brokers is that a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, a strictly enforced program consisting of 17 articles governing the standards of practice. This code of ethics doesn’t apply to regular brokers or real estate agents.
You can expect honesty, integrity and a high level of service from your REALTOR®.
- Practitioners, lawyers and consumers accept the NAR code of ethics as the gauge of professionalism for the real estate industry.
- To qualify as a REALTOR®, members must complete their ethics training within a year of joining the NAR.
- NAR members are required to continue their training by completing a code of ethics course of not less 2 1/2 hours of instructional time once every four years.
Only a qualified REALTOR® is entitled to use the REALTOR® registered trademark on their business cards and advertising materials.
Real Estate Brokers
A broker is essentially a real estate agent who has completed additional and more detailed coursework, qualifying them to run their own brokerage firm.
As such, a broker usually has a more complete knowledge of real estate law and more power and responsibility than agents.
Brokers have more rights, which can include the right to do appraisals and manage other real estate professionals.
- Brokers are held to a higher standard of knowledge.
- The broker’s exam is longer and more difficult than the real estate agent’s.
- The broker is responsible for ensuring that the transaction is completed smoothly.
Not every real estate agent is a broker and not every broker runs their own brokerage firm. Many real estate brokers continue to work for other real estate companies or franchises, such as RE/MAX, to build up their expertise and networks.
Real Estate Agents
Essentially, a real estate agent is someone who is licensed to sell real estate; they can’t work independently and must be employed by a broker. A real estate agent can also be a REALTOR®, which means they are a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and bound by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. It’s important to note that not every agent is a REALTOR® and one way to establish whether your agent belongs to the NAR, is to see if they are using the REALTOR® registered trademark on their business cards and advertising materials.
Real estate agents do the same work as brokers, but aren’t qualified to run their own brokerage firm.
- In order to qualify as a real estate agent, you must be at least 18 years of age, completed a course and passed an exam on basic real estate transactions and laws pertaining to the sale of property.
- Coursework varies between 40-90 hours, depending on state and provincial requirements.
The real estate industry can be confusing; it’s important to know who you’re dealing with when buying and selling property.
Sundaybell is an online service allowing homebuyers and home sellers the opportunity of learning more about real estate while anonymously meeting, interviewing and negotiating with real estate agents in their area.