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Real Estate Agent vs Realtor: What’s The Difference?

Real estate agents and realtors are distinct real estate professionals. If you are a casual buyer who seeks to buy, sell, or rent a house, you might confuse the terms real estate agent and realtor as the same person. People in the real estate industry, or people familiar with it, know that the two professions are different and aren’t interchangeable. You might find this article helpful if you are among buyers or sellers who want to see the difference and for people who wish to understand how to get into real estate.

A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a licensed real estate professional who can assist buyers or sellers with real estate transactions such as buying, selling, or renting property. Real estate agents can also deal with commercial or residential property transactions. They can be either the seller’s agent or the buyer’s agent.

If you wish to know how to be a real estate agent in California, you will need to go through 135 hours of classroom teaching in a bonafide real estate school. You will also need to pass the California real estate examination, have a real estate broker sponsor you, and complete your licensing application. The requirements for the number of hours of classroom teaching vary by state and the requirements for licensing application. As for California, we will be discussing this in detail in a separate article.

Once real estate agents earn their license, they can assume the following responsibilities:

  • A licensed real estate agent can negotiate a sale for buyers or sellers in a real estate transaction.
  • They can also work as a listing agent or a seller’s agent by listing a property for sale and representing the seller.
  • Real estate agents engage in marketing, including showing properties to potential buyers.
  • Real estate agents advise sellers about pricing and prepare their properties for sale.
  • Real estate agents also offer guidance and help buyers with ideas when they shop for a home.
  • Lastly, real estate agents file the necessary documents in real estate transactions, such as offers, counteroffers, contracts, and other documents.

In California, a real estate agent is required to work under a real estate broker. The work of real estate agents represents the brokerage firm and its clients. A licensed real estate agent will need to pay an annual fee for their license. They will also need to undergo ongoing education as a prerequisite to their license renewal.

A Realtor

The word “Realtor” is a trademarked term which means a real estate agent is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To join the NAR, a real estate agent must have a current real estate license, be actively involved in the real estate business, have no record of unprofessional behavior, and has no upcoming or recent bankruptcy proceedings against them.

If you are an employee of a real estate company, you can join a realtor association once the company’s principal has already joined. A company principal could be the assigned managing broker, the sole proprietor, the president of the real estate firm, or even an associate broker, provided they were appointed to act on behalf of the principal. Conversely, if you don’t join the NAR as a principal, the other real estate agents you employ, or employees of the same real estate office or company can’t be members of the NAR either.

  • Realtors are, by definition, licensed real estate professionals who can oversee or facilitate the purchase, sale, or rental of a residential or commercial property. Not all real estate agents can work as realtors, though their responsibilities often overlap. Realtors can serve either as real estate agents or real estate brokers. The duties of realtors include the following, depending on how they wish to operate:
  • Realtors can act as real estate sales agents by helping sellers prepare their property for sale. They can help them by offering guidance and listing the property on the market while also fielding offers from prospective buyers.
  • Unlike real estate agents, realtors can act as brokers by supervising or overseeing a group of real estate agents and representing clients.
  • Realtors can represent more than one party, that is, both the buyers and the sellers, within the same real estate firm.
  • Like licensed real estate agents, they can file the necessary documents to close a real estate transaction.
  • They can also represent buyers by showing properties and submitting offers and counteroffers.

As a member of the NAR, licensed realtors should abide by the NAR Code of Ethics. The NAR’s Code of Ethics details how realtors should interact with customers, clients, the public, and fellow realtors. An incentive of being a realtor is that they can capitalize on the sterling reputation of NAR members. Customers may find it safer to work with a real estate agent who swore to work with fairness and honesty. Clients can also be confident that they will be working with real estate professionals who abide by the national real estate laws, and having hurdled local real estate boards.

Takeaways: Why Hiring Real Estate Agents or Realtors Is Always A Good Idea

If you are a buyer, it is not necessary to employ real estate agents to work on a deal. Buyers may opt to work directly with a listing agent. However, with a realtor or a real estate agents work for you, this can prove a huge asset. A realtor or a real estate agent understands the real estate market. They can also negotiate on your behalf to sell your property quickly at the best price. They will work with you through the entire transaction while keeping you informed about certain process aspects and advise you if the offer is sound. Moreover, real estate professionals can spare you the inconvenience of going through the complexity of the closing process.

As a seller, working with a realtor or a real estate agent can help you maximize the sales price of your property. Aside from helping you with marketing and market research, they can help you list your property to make it visible to the most qualified potential buyers. In a very competitive market, a multiple listing service that these real estate professional services can provide can prove handy to maximize your property’s sale price. However, you will pay the realtors or real estate agents their commission. The value they offer more than makes up for the cost of hiring them.

The Karen Sandvig Real Estate Family has 17 years of experience in California’s luxury real estate market. We have provided clients with the highest quality hands-on service with utmost professionalism and confidentiality. As a top-producing award winner, Karen Sandvig will always surpass your expectations. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, Karen Sandvig will ensure that you get the best value from your real estate transactions. To know more about our property listings and services, call us at (818-941-7437) or Contact Us.

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