There is a difference between a Realtor® and a licensed real estate agent. Many folks do not know know of such a delineation nor do they know the difference. In order to be a real estate agent in any state, one must attend an educational class that consists of a required amount of hours to satisfy their Labor, Licensing and Regulation organization. Not only do they have to attend a course like this, but they must also pass a written knowledge exam in order to move on to taking the state mandated exam. The state mandated exam consists of questions regarding both state and federal regulations. Once one makes it through these obstacles, then they must find a licensed broker-in-charge that will hire them as a probationary salesman within one year. If you do not find employment within that one year, your progress thus far is for not. If you are proficient enough to find employment through a brokerage, you are still not entirely in the clear. Up to this point, the license that you have attained is a provisional license. At the end of your first year of probation, you must then take a post-examination course that consists of both regulations and ethics. Granted, this portion of the examinations is not nearly as grueling as the others. Upon completion of this second leg of the licensing, you are now a standard and practicing real estate agent. Again, all of these things lead up to simply being a real estate agent.
There is nothing wrong with being simply a real estate agent. However, the public can certainly tell how devoted their real estate professional is if they are also a licensed Realtor®. The National Association of Realtors® is a nationally recognized ethics board that oversees it's members that are also licensed real estate agents. Being a member of NAR and furthermore, your local branch, is just another step above being a real estate agent. My local branch is know as the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors ®. Once you become an agent, you are more able to view records, access the multiple listing services and represent both buyers and sellers in their real estate transactions. Once you have become a Realtor®, your privileges do not change. You are, however, held to a higher ethical standard than real estate agents. Upon becoming a member, you take an oath to the Code of Ethics to act according to a very thorough and thoughtful set of rules and expectations. To put it simply; Realtors® have promised under oath to put their clients needs, wants and safeties well above their own. I always recommend to buyers and sellers to make sure that if they do not have a real estate professional and they are looking, to make certain that they at least find someone who is a registered Realtor®. These individuals have made a promise to treat their clients with integrity and if they do not, they can be reported and suffer the consequences. And let's not forget that this is credential is voluntary! These individuals are so sure of their ethical soundness that they are willing to pay to be governed by a board of ethics if they were to act questionably. Here is a link from Realtor® that highlights the pros of using one of their members the next time that you are in the market to either buy or sell your home. You will not be disappointed.