For as many years as I can recall, consumers have not fully grasped or have been properly educated on the glaring differences between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. Soon, those differences will become something of the distant past.  As a consumer, whether you are a real estate professional or not, you may have seen the hashtags #ThereIsADifference and #REALTOR gracing your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds this past week.  That was a result of the National Association of REALTORS® new advertising agency, Arnold, teaming up with the writers of Modern Family, a wildly popular comedy on ABC.

Last weeks “Promposal” episode launched the first of “what may be the most organic, natural ad integration to date.” Lani Rosales, TheRealDaily  

You can find out more about Lani’s and NAR’s thoughts about taking this lofty marketing risk by peeking at her blog post titled NAR teaming up with Modern Family to humorously express what it means to be REALTOR®.

So now onto the differences between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent.


Both are required to obtain and maintain a real estate license for the state in which they practice real estate, but keep in mind that not all real estate agents are REALTORS® and difference is explained in detail below.


A real estate agent owes certain obligations to a consumer in a real estate transaction and those are:

  • Put the client’s interest above anyone else’s
  • Keep the client’s information confidential
  • Obey the client’s lawful instructions
  • Report to the client anything that would be useful or material fact
  • Account for any money involved

While a REALTOR® is required to comply with these same obligations when working with a consumer, they are held to even a higher standard when it comes to the practice of real estate and this is due the desire to be a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.  The association requires its members to adhere to NAR’s Code of Ethics and there are strict penalties for non-compliance.


The amount of education required to obtain a real estate license is most definitely not enough and not even by a mile and yes, this is my personal opinion. After a real estate professional is newly licensed and is navigating consumers through the home buying or selling process, they have only just recently obtained enough knowledge to pass the state or national exam – not to actually practice in their field with any high level of competence. That’s where being a member of NAR comes into play as the vast educational offerings, designations and certifications a REALTOR® has at their disposal is quite extensive. The difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent in terms of educational offerings at NAR – both can take the courses offered in order to obtain knowledge, but only a REALTOR® can profess and display the designation or certification when marketing themselves – a real estate agent cannot.


Throughout the calendar year, REALTORS® freely give, often thousands of their hard earned dollars to the REALTOR® Political Action Committee or commonly referred to as RPAC.  RPAC is the advocacy arm of the National Association of REALTORS® and the funds raised are used when lobbying at the local, state and national levels to protect and persevere homeownership rights. Thousands of REALTOR® members take a large amount of time out of their hectic schedules to trek both short and long distances to do just that. This week, you’ll find nearly 10,000 REALTORS® flocking to Washington D.C. for the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. These dedicated members will swarm the White House and Capitol Hill meeting with national representatives and senators from their respective states to discuss issues that are or could be problematic to current homeowners, would hinder future homeownership or could wreck havoc on the real estate industry.  During these sessions and meetings, the real estate community has an opportunity to bend the ears of representatives and senators regarding these issues. Without RPAC or this dedicated group of real estate professionals, the government would have a bigger hand in negatively impacting real estate.  That is not something that any buyer, seller or homeowner wants to happen so if you stumble upon a REALTOR® who traveled to advocate on your behalf or has invested their earnings back into the industry to help protect homeownership rights be sure to extend a handshake, high five or a pat on the back next time you see them in person.

Geez, we all knew Sofia Vergara was quite beautiful and talented, but we now know she’s also pretty dang smart.  There really is a difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent.

Jennifer Archambeault

Jennifer Archambeault is a tech nerd in a Real Estate Broker's body. When she is not using her wide range of talents to market or close the next real estate deal, you will find her leveraging her technology expertise to her team of agents at Urban Provision, REALTORS®. Jennifer’s drive for virtual, mobile and paperless real estate transactions allows her to keep a pulse on new technological and educational offerings, stay in tune with industry changes and connect with other leaders within the real estate community. When at home in Austin Texas, she can be found concocting on her latest home brew, honing her culinary chops or planning her next adventurous getaway. She believes in keeping Austin weird, as long as it’s done with the latest real estate technology.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook