Although all are licensed to sell real estate, the basic difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is that a realtor is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. As such, the main difference is that a realtor must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
But what does this mean for you?
The Code of Ethics is strictly enforced. It contains 17 articles and accompanying Standards of Practice. It’s not just a list of rules that agents swear to uphold and adhere to. The Standards are much more restrictive and confining about conduct than those governing agents who simply hold a real estate license. While there is no evidence or guarantee that all realtors are morally or ethically better than unaffiliated real estate agents, it is an attempt by the industry to regulate its members. See a complete list of things a realtor promises to do that non-affiliates do not.
So what about a broker?
A broker is a real estate agent with further education and a broker’s license issued by the state. The extra education goes in-depth into topics like contracts, taxes, and insurance. Brokers can work on their own or they can hire agents to work for them in an agency. To become a broker, a real estate agent must have been working as a licensed real estate agent for a certain number of years.
*Note: the trademarked word REALTOR® is the proper format, but I prefer a more natural flow in my blog and website, so I use the term realtor to keep things easy for you to read. When I say realtor, I mean REALTOR®.