Many use the terms ‘Realtor’ and ‘real estate agent’ interchangeably. It’s a simple mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. Though the difference may seem small, it’s worth looking into. In this guide, we’ll dive into the difference between Realtors and real estate agents, and how to become one.
What is the difference between Realtors and Real Estate Agents?
A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and has access to the privileges associated with the title. Think of it as a college sorority. Everyone who goes to college is a student, but those who are in a sorority have more access to campus events. After pledging in a sorority, you’ll find that you have a louder voice in campus events and people begin to associate you with the long line of sorority members before you.
It’s fairly similar when you become a Realtor.
Realtors are regular real estate agents who decided to pay a fee and take a pledge of service. Because they have formed a group, they can send representatives to government meetings. They also have more say in the government over real estate matters.
From the time they pledge, Realtors are associated with the long line of past Realtors, and the legacy of trust they each carry. They also have exclusive access to resources such as training and educational materials and a landing page.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent
To become a Realtor, you have to first become a real estate agent. Here are the basic steps you take to become a real estate agent.
Complete Pre-licensing Training
All real estate agents in the U.S. are required to take a real estate training course before sitting for the exam. This course typically costs between $200 and $400 and can be taken in person or online. The number of training hours varies for each state, however. For example, to become a real estate agent in New York, you need to complete 75-course hours, but in Texas, you are required to take 180-course hours. That’s quite a difference! Most states also require a specific textbook for the class, so plan for an extra $30 to $60 for that.
Make sure you understand your training options before just jumping into a course. Some classes are over a period of weeks, some are at your own pace, and others are for hours a day for consecutive days until the course is complete.
Take the Licensing Exam
The licensing exam is usually carried out at a third-party testing center. The exam itself is divided into two sections, with each section consisting of 60 to 100 questions. There is math involved in the exam in the form of questions about proration and other common equations you’ll complete as a real estate agent. You can use a calculator for the exam.
It’s normal to be a bit nervous about the exam. While your pre-licensing course probably has a practice test or two, about half of everyone who takes the exam fails the first time. You are allowed to take the exam again, but if more than two years go by without you passing the exam, you will need to retake the test. The exam costs anywhere between $100 and $300, which doesn’t include any fees the testing center may have.
Additional Forms and Fees
Passing the exam isn’t the final hurdle in the race, however. After passing the exam, you need to activate your membership through your state, which can range in price from $200 to $400. You will also need to pay your local MLS dues. The MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, allows you access to all the homes in your area that are listed by real estate brokerages. The fees for the MLS are vastly different from place to place, ranging from a few hundred dollars up to the thousands! These dues are recurring annually, so make sure you set aside some of your sales each year for those.
Join a Brokerage
As a real estate agent, you cannot operate alone. You must work with a licensed brokerage to complete transactions. Every listing or purchase you help a client with goes through your brokerage. Each brokerage takes a cut of your commission to pay for marketing materials and other “perks” that you receive when you join the brokerage.
Not all brokerages are created equal. Some take a much larger percentage out of your commission, and others provide a lot of new agent support. Do your research to make sure you are getting the best possible deal you can before joining up.
How to Become a Realtor
In between paying your fees and choosing a brokerage, you’ll have the option to become a Realtor. To become a Realtor, you’ll need to complete some more training, take a pledge, and pay some dues. Once you are a Realtor, you will need to make sure you sign under a brokerage where the primary (managing broker) is also a Realtor. Having the title Realtor means you can now access all of the education models available on the National Association of Realtors site (nar.com), as well as enjoy the prestige of the name.
Although there is a level of expertise that comes from being called a Realtor, they don’t have any special advantages when it comes to helping you buy or sell your home. A really great real estate agent could be better than a realtor at their job, and vice versa. There are no transactions that Realtors can do that real estate agents can’t, either.
As you choose which real estate professional to use, rather than look to their titles, look to their reviews and expertise. Those who are top-rated are always going to give you better service, regardless of what title they hold.
Realtors and Real Estate Agents, we’ve got them all for you to choose from. In fact, whether they are a realtor or a real estate agent, all of Clever’s agents boast great reviews and the same flat rate. Call us today at 1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.