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What is a REALTOR®?

Real Estate Careers

Some people think that all real estate agents are "Realtors," calling agents by that name generically without realizing that not every agent can legally use the title.

A REALTOR is a real estate agent or affiliated real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS, called NAR for short. Realtors are located in all parts of the world.

Realtor Code of Ethics

When agents become REALTORS they must agree to conduct their business in a way that adheres to the NAR's Code of Ethics. The REALTOR code covers ethical requirements that deal with all aspects of the job, from working with consumers and fellow agents to writing truthful advertising.

Multiple Listing Services

Local groups of agents who have banded together in order to share listings more effectively are called Multiple Listing Services, or MLS for short. Most of those groups are affiliated with their state and national Realtor associations and typically require all MLS agents to become members of both of those groups.

Agents pay dues to their state and local Realtor organizations. They also pay fees to become and maintain members of their local MLS.

Realtors Accountable for their Actions

Realtors can file complaints against each other and the organization accepts complaints from consumers. Complaints can affect membership status and fines can be levied against agents who are found guilty of wrongdoing by a multi-member panel of their peers.

The organization does not have the ability to suspend a real estate licenses--that action can only be accomplished by the real estate licensing commission that granted it. Licenses in the US are granted by each state.

Realtor Educational Requirements

All licensed agents are required to take continuing education courses approved by their state licensing boards. To retain membership in the NAR, Realtors are required to take additional continuing ed classes, often focusing on ethical work habits and other consumer protection topics.

Membership Benefits

  • Educational materials at state and national NAR Web sites

  • Full-color magazines with news and educational content

  • Representatives who lobby Congress for Realtor needs

  • Discounts for equipment and other helpful products and services

  • Training and educational opportunities, including affiliations with special designation programs

  • Annual state and national conventions

Consumers and real estate agents can learn more about what it means to be a Realtor on the NAR's Web site.