In the vast landscape of the real estate world, the terms "REALTOR®" and "real estate agent" are often used interchangeably. However, there exists a significant difference between the two.

Whether you're looking for professional assistance or considering a career in real estate, understanding these distinctions is essential. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between a REALTOR and a real estate agent.

What’s the difference?

Both REALTORS and real estate agents are licensed professionals who represent clients in property transactions, acting as a mediator between buyers and sellers. All real estate agents and REALTORS must undergo specific pre-licensing education, pass a state-approved licensing exam, and frequently participate in continuing education courses to stay updated on industry best practices.

The difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent lies within their membership to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). A REALTOR is a real estate agent who is a member of NAR.

What sets REALTORS apart

  1. NAR Membership: By joining NAR, real estate agents commit to adhering to a strict code of ethics and high professional standards. The NAR membership signifies their dedication to professionalism and integrity in their dealings.
  2. REALTOR Designation: Once an agent becomes a member of the NAR, they earn the prestigious title of "REALTOR." This designation sets them apart in the industry and reflects their commitment to ethical practices and client advocacy.
  3. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS): The (MLS) is a powerful real estate database that allows REALTORS, as NAR members, to share and access comprehensive property listings. It serves as a centralized platform, enabling real estate professionals to collaborate and efficiently connect buyers with sellers.
  4. Additional Resources: REALTORS gain access to a wide array of valuable resources, including market data, legal support, and networking opportunities within the real estate community. These resources help them stay informed and provide better service to clients.


All REALTORS are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS. The difference between them lies in their membership with the National Association of REALTORS.

While both professionals are licensed to assist clients in property transactions, REALTORS have chosen to be part of an esteemed organization that upholds the highest ethical standards in the industry. Real estate agents are qualified to provide professional assistance, while REALTORS bring an added level of commitment to ethical practices and a wealth of resources to the table.

If you’re seeking a career in real estate or have begun yours already, having this understanding can help you make informed decisions about whether to join NAR and earn the REALTOR designation.

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