Realtor or Real Estate Agent: What's the Difference?

When you want to list your current home or purchase your next home, you want a qualified professional to assist with the process. For the typical homeowner, behind-the-scenes titles and politics mean very little. So what is the deal - are all licensed real estate agents Realtors? And, what does this distinction mean for you as a consumer? 

Q: Are all licensed real estate agents Realtors? 

A: No.

In order to earn a real estate license in any given state, a person must complete the required number of educational hours and pass the state licensing exam. E&O coverage (errors and omissions insurance) is required and in addition, continuing education is required on an annual basis. Learn more about Colorado licensing requirements for the real estate industry here.Not all agents are Realtors. "Realtor" is a trademarked term used to refer to a real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association in the United States. 

Q: Trade association ... that sounds a little boring. Why should I care? 

A: In order to make an informed decision about your next real estate transaction, you should understand the purpose of a trade association (like NAR).

This will help you decide whether a real estate agent's status as a Realtor is important to your deal. 

The purpose of a trade association is to bring together members of an industry (real estate is just one example) to develop policies that benefit the industry, to ensure the industry is promoted in a positive light and to lobby the government on behalf of the industry through political action committees like RPAC, the REALTORS(r) Political Action Committee. In fact, 42 cents of every dollar spent on NAR dues goes to lobbying efforts, and NAR is the largest direct financial contributor to federal political candidates. 

Consumers do benefit from the work of trade associations, but it is important to know that the purpose of any trade association's activities (NAR included) is the machination of positive industry PR, the squelching of negative coverage of the industry, and powerful lobbying action toward achieving political movement in favor of the industry and those working within it. 

Q: So where's the beef? What should I do with this information? 

A: Speaking of beef, when you head to your favorite steakhouse, do you ask yourself, "I wonder if the rancher who raised the fine cow I'm about to partake of is part of the American Cattleman's Association? 

Or, for the vegetarians among you, "Did this tomato come from a Tomato Farmers of America associated farm?" Probably not. 

So, what really matters to you when planning your next home sale or purchase?

Does it matter whether your agent has an official gold name tag or membership in a special club, as long as he or she is qualified to do the job? Fair pricing, transparency, honesty, timely communication and results are what matters, and the behind-the-scenes politicking of NAR has everything to do with protecting the interests of a 100 year old industry and very little to do with your personal real estate transaction.  

TRELORA offers commission free service for Denver area buyers and sellers. Transparent real estate transactions for busy people who want the best technology, a knowledgeable team to back up the deal, and a positive result at the end of the day. Our clubhouse is open to the public and we are here to help clients retain more of their hard-earned home equity through flat fee service and great technology. 

If you are blinded enough by the shiny gold badge of yore to pay the inflated commissions that often accompany the Realtor designation, carry on! If, on the other hand, you want expert real estate service and you want to keep more of your hard earned home equity right where it belongs - in your own pocket - you should consider TRELORA.

We're the future of real estate, taking (non-political) action to successfully close your real estate deal and save you money.