REALTOR® vs Real Estate Agent

A Real Estate Agent is a person that is licensed by their state to provide a service of real estate on behalf of another person for compensation. A service of real estate includes but is not limited to advertising, selling, buying, and renting. A REALTOR® (pronounced real-tor not real-it-tor) is a Real Estate Agent that is a dues paying member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a dues paying member of a State Association of Realtors and a dues paying member of a Local Association of Realtors. Being a member of the NAR (the largest trade organization in America) a Real Estate Agent is permitted to use the trademark REALTOR® in their advertisement and identification of themselves. There you have it in a nutshell. So why would a Real Estate Agent want to be a dues paying member of 3 Associations. I can’t answer for others but I think most would agree it has a lot to do with the Multiple List Service (MLS). Let’s save that discussion for another day. Let’s talk about Ethics. When a Real Estate Agent joins the National Association of REALTORS® and becomes a REALTOR® he/she agrees (swears or pledges) to abide by a Code of Ethics. This Code has 17 Articles and what is very interesting is the first 14 Articles are about a REALTORS® duties to Clients, Customers and the Public. 

Designation & Certifications


Accredited Buyers Representative is a National Association of REALTORS® designation and stands for the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. ABR® designees have a higher level of expertise needed to represent today’s home buyers.


Graduate, REALTOR® Institute is the nationally recognized mark of the real estate professional who has made the commitment to provide a high level of professional services.

GRI designees:

  • Act with professionalism and are committed to serving their clients and customers with the highest ethical standards.

  • Have developed a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to navigate the current real estate climate—no matter what its condition.

  • Have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards, and the sales process.


At Home With Diversity® designees have additional education on the topics of diversity and fair housing. More importantly REALTORS® with this designation know how to work effectively with and within a rapidly changing multicultural market.


Attainable Affordable Housing Representative is a local designation and recognizes REALTORS® who commit their time and have the experience to work with buyers in the affordable housing market segment. This includes knowing about special financing programs and Down Payment Assistance.