What's the difference between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor?

You've probably heard these terms used interchangeably. While these titles are quite similar, there are two distinct differences that set Realtors apart from real estate agents.

Wood blocks lined up on a table to spell the word, "REALTOR"

First off, let's define what a real agent is/does. Real estate agents are licensed by the province they work in to assist with the buying or selling of a home. They work for a real estate company, and are usually paid through commission. Now, a Realtor does all of the same things as a regular agent, but they are a member of The National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members are permitted to refer to themselves as Realtors, and pay for that privilege through their membership. This is not the case with real estate agents. Realtors can also be brokers and other real estate professionals. One of the benefits for consumers who choose to work with a Realtor is their access to the multiple listing service (MLS), which provides information about properties listed by multiple real estate companies. A real estate agent who is not a broker may or may not have access to the MLS system. The second distinct difference between the two is that a Realtor adheres to a strict code of ethics and acceptable practices.

The code outlines 17 articles (laid out by the NAR) which state the binding duties every Realtor must uphold. They are as follows:

  1. Promote their clients’ interests before their own and treat all parties involved honestly.

  2. Avoid exaggerating, misrepresenting, or withholding facts about the property or transaction that are within the scope of their real estate license.

  3. Cooperate with other brokers when it is in their client’s best interest.

  4. Disclose with their client if they are working with another member of their existing client’s family.

  5. Avoid providing professional services regarding a property they have an interest in, unless it is disclosed to the client.
  6. Receive the client’s consent and knowledge before accepting any form of payment or commission.

  7. Disclose to all parties and receive consent from their client if a payment is to be received from more than one party involved in a transaction.

  8. Keep personal funds and clients’ funds separated.

  9. Ensure all agreements are clearly and understandably communicated between all parties involved in a transaction, and that each party receives a copy of each agreement.

  10. Refrain from discriminating against any person based on race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

  11. Competently abide by standards of practice in their real estate discipline, and do not provide services they are unqualified for.

  12. Remain truthful in their advertising and marketing materials.

  13. Do not practice law if they are not authorized to do so.

  14. Present all evidence and cooperate if charged with unethical practice.

  15. Refrain from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals.

  16. Do not interfere in another Realtor’s contractual relationships.

  17. Handle dispute(s) with other Realtors through arbitration instead of litigation.


An Easy Way To Remember The Difference

Think about the army in medieval kingdoms. Knights were a special group of soldiers among a king's army, who heeded the ethics of their binding code of Chivalry. All knights were soldiers, but not all soldiers in the king's army were knights. This is how you can remember the difference between real estate agents and Realtors. All Realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents out there are Realtors. Realtors have a Code of Ethics they must abide by, just like how knights heeded their Code of Chivalry.

Posted by Admin Staff on


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