Ask the Expert - What is the REALTOR® Difference?

  • by Snohomish County Camano Association of REALTORS®
  • Jan 10, 2024, 16:38 PM
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Q: What is the REALTOR® Difference?

Understandably, many misunderstand the terms “Real Estate Agent,” “Real Estate Broker,” and “REALTORS®.” So, what is the difference? “Real Estate Agent” is a blanket term used to describe the different types of professionals who buy and sell real estate: agents, brokers, and REALTORS®. And even though they all work in the same industry, they have very different backgrounds.

A real estate agent is a licensed professional whose work is to help clients buy, sell, rent, or invest in housing. To become an agent, a person must take pre-licensing training from a certified organization and pass their state’s real estate licensing exam. After they’ve been licensed, an agent must become affiliated with a real estate brokerage. To add more confusion, in Washington State, real estate agents’ official titles are “real estate brokers.” The Agent/Broker titles differ by state.

So, where do REALTORS® fit into the equation? 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 that only REALTORS® commit to following a strict Code of Ethics intended to protect buyers and sellers. For example, REALTORS® pledge to protect and promote the interests of their clients.

For this reason, the REALTOR® designation is synonymous with both professionalism and trust. Clients often seek out REALTORS® specifically for the assurance that comes with knowing that they are working with a dedicated professional who is seeking their best interests.

In this way, REALTORS® act as an advocate for their clients. Realtors® go beyond traditional real estate services. Acting as advocates for their clients, REALTORS® work tirelessly to protect and promote the best outcomes for each of their clients. This commitment to client advocacy is a difference that cannot be overstated. Buying a home is a big decision and those making the purchase deserve to work with a professional – someone who knows the market and knows who they can trust.

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 by visiting for more information.