Difference Between Real Estate Agent & Realtor

What exactly is the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent? This article explores the similarities and differences between these two professions, including job duties, salary, and qualifications.

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Comparing Real Estate Agents to Realtors

Real estate agent and realtor are terms that seem to get thrown around interchangeably, but there are some differences. While both are state licensed professionals that help clients buy and sell property, realtors are active members of the National Association of Realtors, which provides them with a code of ethics to work by. Other similarities and differences are explored below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Real Estate Agent State License $46,285 3% (for all real estate brokers and sales agents)
Realtor State License; Active Member of the National Association of Realtors $53,529 3% (for all real estate brokers and sales agents)

Source: *Payscale.Com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors

Real estate agents and realtors share a very similar working environment and set of responsibilities. Both of these professionals work with their clients to sell and purchase properties and homes. Both work in real estate offices, as well as travel to properties where they stage open houses for sellers and present homes to buyers. In fact, realtors are real estate agents. The only difference being that realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors. As members, realtors must pay yearly dues and follow the Association's code of ethics.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents assist sellers and buyers in transactions involving homes and property. This process includes determining appropriate prices and handling negotiations on behalf of their clients. Getting clients the most money possible is a priority, as the income of real estate agents is based on commissions. These agents must be excellent communicators, as they must maintain excellent relationships with members of their team and clients. To become a real estate agent, you must study and pass a state licensing exam for every state that you plan to work in.

Job responsibilities of a real estate agent include:

  • Hold open homes to promote properties for sellers
  • Take buyers on tours of potential homes
  • Market themselves to obtain new clients
  • Oversee documentation of contracts and legal agreements


Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors that aid clients in the purchasing and selling of properties. Realtors must be able to fully grasp the desires of their clients and guide them to an end result that will be beneficial for all parties. To be a realtor you must possess excellent customer service skills and have the drive to work for commissions. Realtors must take classes and pass a state examine to become either a real estate agent or a broker.

Job responsibilities of a realtor include:

  • Follow the ethical guidelines of the National Association of Realtors
  • Assess property value through knowledge of real estate and the current market
  • Advertise and hold open houses to promote properties
  • Review contracts, leases, and deeds

Related Careers

If you are interested in real estate but not in directly selling and buying to clients, there are options that are more business-focused. Real estate law consultant and real estate title officer are just two such options.

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