Realtor vs Real Estate Agent: How Are They Different?

Many people use the terms real-estate agent and realtor interchangeably, but surprisingly enough, they are not the same.

When you’re comparing realtor vs real estate agent, there are several things you have to consider. Especially those who are looking to buy or sell a home. Is your realtor or real estate agent qualified to answer your questions?

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Keep reading to find out what makes a real estate agent so different from a realtor and what questions you should be asking each one. 

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a professional employed by a brokerage who helps people buy, sell, and list homes. They are typically paid through a commission of the properties that are bought or sold.

Real estate agents must be employed by a brokerage because this requires a separate license. Though, some real estate agents find it appealing to have both.

Duties

The duties of a real estate agent are often extensive and varied. However, they do depend on if you’re a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent. A buyer’s agent specifically helps people buy homes or properties, while, you guessed it, the seller’s agent helps you sell a home or property. 

A buyer’s agent will help you find the perfect home or even offer advice on the best neighborhoods, styles, and features for your future home. They have a wide array of properties for you to consider at their disposal, including ones that may not even be publicly listed yet!

They can help you make the best decisions as you look for a new home and offer valuable purchasing tips. Real estate agents should also be able to help you recognize a good or bad deal and assist you in navigating the negotiation process. 

It is often helpful having a professional who is adept at navigating the complicated buying and selling process on your side. 

On the other hand, a seller’s agent is useful for helping you determine the value of your house and pricing it similar to others on the market. They will also negotiate offers with other real estate agents so that you get the best deal too! In addition to this, a seller’s agent will also help you market your home on real estate websites to help it generate the most interest possible.

Above all else, your buyer’s or seller’s agent should engage in open communication with you about the entire process. 

Things to Ask

You probably want to ask your real estate agent questions. But what should you be asking?

One of the most important questions to ask your real estate agent is what to expect from them during the process. The home buying or selling process can be confusing, and you’ll most likely need an expert by your side for most things you have to do. Asking them what you can expect from them will help you manage your expectations while also letting them know what you’ll need the most guidance with. 

Another critical question to ask is how often you can expect communication from them. Your real estate agent shouldn’t only be there to get their commission at the end. They should be there throughout the process, talking you through the next steps and helping you closer to your goals.

Education or Training

All real estate agents have state-mandated courses, training, and exams that they have to take. Each state has different requirements, though. To ensure your real estate agent has the correct license, check your state’s unique requirements. 

They will also often be required to take continuing education courses or training and pay annual fees to renew their real estate license. 

And if your real estate agent likes to stay updated on new market trends or real estate news, they’ll also engage in supplemental education to help them do their best job.

Realtor

A Realtor is a professional who is apart of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They often abide by a higher set of standards than regular real estate agents set forth by the NAR. However, it does not only allow real estate agents or brokers to join but also property managers, leasing agents, showing assistants, and many more professionals. 

The specific requirements needed to become a certified Realtor include paying yearly dues and taking special courses. For a real estate agent to become a Realtor, their brokerage also has to have one of their partners designated as a Realtor. 

Duties

The duties of a Realtor will parallel those of a regular real estate agent. It is important to note that Realtors are held to a higher standard than your everyday agent. They abide by strict ethical and behavioral standards that should set them apart from those without this certification. 

Things to Ask

The questions you ask a Realtor will be very similar to those you ask a real estate agent, though you may want to ask specifically about NAR standards. 

Ask what being a certified Realtor is means to them. How do they uphold the ethics associated with being a Realtor? What sets them apart from people who don’t have that designated title? 

Education or Training

Realtors are required to get the same state license and training as a regular real estate agent. However, in addition to the necessary education, Realtors also have access to extra information and resources.

This makes them exceptionally knowledgable about specific processes or practices that your run of the mill real estate agent may not understand. Though don’t judge a Realtor by their title, always ask questions like those above to ensure you’re choosing the best person to represent you. 

Who to Hire

When choosing a Realtor (or real estate agent for that matter), always trust your gut. If they feel shady or just plain greedy, don’t let them smooth talk you. Go with a realtor who embodies the standards and integrity represented by the NAR. 

However, don’t be fooled by the title; there are also bad Realtors. Ask plenty of questions and ask for client references if needed!

Choosing a Realtor vs Real Estate Agent

Now that you know the difference between a realtor vs real estate agent, you can make an informed decision about who to hire.

Whether you go with a real estate agent or a designated Realtor, never be afraid to ask plenty of questions. When choosing one for your buying or selling process, make sure they also fit your needs and expectations for service.

For more home and renovation tips, questions, and ideas, check out more of our articles like these!

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