Outside the real estate industry, the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor” are used interchangeably. In reality, they’re not the same, even though either professional can show you homes and work with you through the process of buying or selling a home.
Real estate agents and Realtors are both licensed by the state to sell real estate. They’ve taken the required classes – usually 30-90 hours – and passed a state exam to earn their license. They pay an annual fee, and must renew their license every year or two.
The term “Realtor” is trademarked by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A Realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the NAR. To be a member, a Realtor pays a membership fee and swears to abide by a Code of Ethics. The code is a set of standards and practices for operating as a Realtor. They are enforced by local real estate boards.