My husband asks me about this because he doesn’t like the flow of having a capital word “yelling” at someone in the middle of a document. Don’t worry, in real life I’m not the yelling type. I’m more of a slow simmer, take deep breaths and logic it through type of person. It’s the gift of coming from a big family…either learn the art of patience, communication and logic or get upset a lot. Life is seriously too short for that.
The short answer to the question is REALTOR® is a registered trademark so yes, I have to put it in all caps. Technically speaking, it is pronounced as it is written and not the “Realator” that we often hear. A lot of agents get upset about pronunciation, but honestly, I don’t care how you pronounce it. It’s more important to understand there are subtle differences between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®.
Both real estate agents and REALTORS® must be licensed by the state(s) they work in to sell real estate. The basic difference is that a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and by being a member, we must follow a specific Code of Ethics.
But what does this mean to you?
The Code of Ethics contains 17 Articles and Standards of Practice. As a REALTOR®, I and my fellow REALTORS®, agree to abide by higher standards and rules. These standards are more restrictive and limits how we conduct ourselves…in a good way. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all REALTORS® are morally or ethically superior to real estate agents, but it is an attempt by the industry to regulate conduct to the benefit of those who hire us.
Now, don’t be confused and think that Real Estate Agents are running about willy-nilly without oversite. Real Estate Agents and REALTORS® must be placed under a Real Estate Broker. The Broker allows the agent to act on behalf of the Brokerage. Meanwhile, the Broker oversees all of the work we do, verifies contracts are written correctly and helps resolve disputes, should they arise. When you sign a listing, you are actually hiring the brokerage who is allowing that specific agent to work on your behalf.
The main difference, besides who carries the liability, is education. Brokers are required to do more education than agents and have been in the business longer. The standards of how long vary by state. As an example, I am a Broker in Washington state but have not chosen to go through the classes and testing to become a Broker in Arizona, even though I have the years of experience to qualify as a Broker. Mostly, because I love what I do and don’t want to be stuck in an office looking over contracts. I much prefer working with you, my buyers and sellers.
In larger organizations there is a Principal Broker, who oversees Brokers, who oversee the agents. Clear as mud, right? If you have further questions or want clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.