March 20, 2022

Do you know the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?

Before you go to purchase a new car, you may seek advice from a friend or family member, and you might read reviews online. The same should be true when searching for a real estate agent to help you sell or buy a home. When you receive a recommendation do you just go and purchase the car, or do you do more research? What about when someone recommends an agent? When choosing an agent, it is a good idea to do more research since buying or selling your home is an important transaction.

The first thing you can do to vet a real estate professional is to find out if the agent merely holds a real estate license or is a REALTOR®. There’s a difference between the two, and the difference matters. Read more about the differences below.

Becoming a REALTOR®

Before a person can sell real estate in Texas, he or she must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) as a salesperson and sponsored by an established broker. They must also take 180 hours of required educational courses and pass the real estate licensing exam. Within two years, the licensee must complete an additional 90 classroom hours of real estate education.

But holding a real estate salesperson or broker’s license from TREC does not make someone a REALTOR®. After earning the license, many agents elect to join their local association of REALTORS®, the state-level association, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Only after all these steps are taken can a person be called a REALTOR®. Membership in this three-level system gives REALTORS® (and their clients) advantages over agents who don’t join.

Why use a REALTOR®?

REALTORS® must adhere to NAR’s REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which clearly identifies their responsibilities to the consumer. The Code of Ethics is the cornerstone of what it means to be a REALTOR®. REALTORS® pledge that they will treat all parties fairly and protect their clients’ interests. It’s a consumer-oriented code that holds REALTORS® to a higher standard of professional behavior.

Adhering to the Code of Ethics isn’t the only way REALTORS® are set apart from real estate licensees. REALTORS® have a long track record of working with state and local officials, as well as other regulatory bodies. These highly organized and effective efforts are focused on four main areas: keeping the cost associated with real estate transactions reasonable; preserving private-property rights; protecting consumers from proposals that make homeownership more difficult; and maintaining the overall health of the real estate economy.

If that’s not enough, REALTORS® are plugged into the best information and education, so they know more about the process of buying and selling real estate. Texas REALTORS®, the state association, provides educational opportunities for members to further their real estate knowledge and become more proficient in their industry.

Plus, Texas REALTORS® have exclusive access to more than 100 forms for every type of real estate situation imaginable, which can help keep you out of legal trouble when you’re dealing in real estate transactions. Texas REALTORS® even have Spanish translations of most of the most widely used forms. Although not legally binding documents, these translations help explain the forms to Spanish-speaking consumers.

It’s a difference that matters

Whether you’re buying or selling property, working with a REALTOR® can make a huge difference in the level of professionalism and skill you’ll receive during the process. You’ll enjoy a smoother transaction by working with a knowledgeable practitioner who puts the needs of his or her clients first.

For more information on buying, selling, or leasing your home visit and find a San Antonio area REALTOR® today.