REALTOR®. Broker. Agent. What's the difference?

Have you been looking for the best nolensville real estate agent? Or maybe you’ve contacted a LA broker. Or have you been talking to a REALTOR in California? Many people wonder if there is a difference in the terminology describing real estate agents. If you’re like me, you’ve heard about brokers and REALTORS , and wondered “what’s the difference?” (And why is there a tiny R in a circle anyway?)

Well, let’s clear things up!

Agent: This general term focuses on the function of the job. Real estate agents are agents on behalf of clients and work to accomplish real estate tasks for those clients. For example, a professional athlete hires a sports agent to promote the athlete’s career by finding and negotiating employment opportunities. A real estate agent is not much different – it’s our job to represent your interests (buying a home or selling your home), write and negotiate contracts in your best interest, and use our expertise in a very complex industry to ensure a profitable transaction for you. When starting off on a real estate career, working with someone who has ample experience can be helpful. Being a real estate agent involves having a nuanced understanding of the market, buyer and seller contracts, and plenty of other things, so an internship would be a good first step to start off. If you are here to learn what being a real estate agent entails, then this information can help.

Broker: This term focuses on our position and our work. Before 2002, agents were called ‘sales associates’ and the only brokers were the principal brokers (a principal broker is the licensed broker responsible for the operations conducted within a brokerage firm). But since 2002, all Oregon agents are required to be full brokers. The term is no longer applied to principal brokers only. As such, we broker transactions for our clients. ‘Broker’ and ‘agent’ are fairly interchangeable terms.

REALTOR : This term specifically describes real estate agents and brokers belonging to specific trade organizations: the National Association of Realtors (national affiliation), the Oregon Association of Realtors (state affiliation), and a local affiliation- the Yamhill County Association of Realtors (stay tuned for a YCAR website debut coming soon!). All Realtors are agents and brokers, but not all agents and brokers are Realtors .

  • Nationally only about half of all real estate agents are Realtors .
  • Realtors subscribe to a strict code of ethics, abide by a set of professional principles, and serve clients fairly.
  • Our associations provide support, education and training, accountability, political lobbying for improvements in the housing sector, and conflict resolution among brokers and between agents and the public.
  • Oh, and the tiny R in the circle is always there because it is a trademark of the National Association of Realtors and is vigorously defended from unauthorized use.

Hopefully these definitions have clarified who real estate agents are and why it is important to have Realtor on your team, not just an agent…or a broker. Good luck on your purchase or property sale! We at Bella Casa Real Estate Group would be thrilled to speak with you and offer our assistance. 503-437-9005