What is the Difference Between a Realtor and an Agent?

If you haven’t spent much time around the real estate industry you might think the terms “Realtor” and “real estate agent” are interchangeable. However, that’s a common misconception. The distinction is well-known among within our industry, but we’re here to lift the veil to make sure you know what the differences are. We like transparency!

How do You Become a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agent refers to everyone who has been licensed to sell real estate. This includes sales agents and brokers. In order to become a real estate agent here in Florida you’re required to complete 63 hours of pre-licensing classes – either online or in the classroom – and pass the exit exam following your completion of the courses. You’re then required to provide fingerprints to be kept on file by the state before you can submit your license application. In order to have your application approved you must be at least 18, and have a high school diploma (or equivalent) in addition to your pre-licensing education. Once your application has been approved you can schedule your state licensure exam.

When you’ve passed that – boom – you’re a real estate agent. Now you owe the state of Florida your annual licensing fee, and you will need to maintain that along with continuing education annually. But you’re not a Realtor. At least, not yet.

So… What’s it Take to be a Realtor?

“Realtor” is an additional professional designation. All Realtors are already real estate agents. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is the largest trade organization in the United States, and they have trademarked the term Realtor to refer to their active membership.

The NAR has some specific requirements you must meet to earn the Realtor designation:

  • Hold a valid real estate license and be “actively engaged” in the real estate business.
  • Have no record of sanctions as a result of unprofessional conduct
  • Have no recent, nor pending bankruptcy
  • Be a principal in your firm, or work for a firm in which the principals are active NAR members
  • Agree to adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics & Professional Standards

As Realtors, our Code of Ethics is the main thing that sets us apart from non-members. It sets out guidelines of our duties to our clients, other agents, as well as the public in general.

We mentioned brokers earlier – they are real estate agents who have gone through additional education and licensing. They can be Realtors, but aren’t necessarily. All agents must be hired by a broker, or be one themselves, to legally use their license even after going through all the other steps.

If you have any questions about anything pertaining to real estate in South Florida, The Kern Team is here to help! Give us a call!