Agents, Brokers, and REALTORS®: What’s the Difference?

  • by Snohomish County-Camano Association of REALTORS®
  • Jan 20, 2023, 14:14 PM

“Real Estate Agent” is a catchall phrase used, in casual conversation, to describe the three types of professionals who buy and sell real estate: agents, brokers, and REALTORS®. No, they’re not really the same. Yes, you should care about what makes them different. Here’s a breakdown:

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps people buy, sell, rent, or invest in homes. To become an agent, a person must take pre-licensing training from a certified institution (these vary from state to state) and pass their state’s real estate licensing exam. Once they have their license, an agent must affiliate themselves with a real estate brokerage. Technically, in Washington State, real estate agents’ official titles are real estate brokers. Agent/Broker titles differ by state.

A REALTOR® is a broker who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the largest trade association in the country. While many people know a REALTOR® helps buy and sell homes, what they may not know is only a REALTOR® commits to following a strict Code of Ethics intended to protect buyers and sellers. For example, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. REALTORS® act as an advocate for their clients. Real estate brokers, who are not NAR members, cannot call themselves a REALTOR®. There are more than one million REALTORS® in the United States. You can use®’s “Find a REALTOR®” tool to connect with one in your area.

“The REALTOR® Code of Ethics isn’t just words on a page, but is a pledge of honesty, integrity, professionalism, and community service,” said Julie Love President of the Snohomish County-Camano Association of REALTORS®. “Partnering with a REALTOR® delivers the peace of mind which comes from working with a real person, a real advocate, and a real and trusted professional who is just as committed as their clients to their clients’ futures, communities, and neighborhoods.”

For more information about buying or selling a home, be sure to work with a REALTOR®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Snohomish County-Camano Association of REALTORS® is the voice for real estate in Snohomish County. If you have questions for The Expert about real estate email us at, or visit