Thinking about becoming a real estate agent? Or maybe you’d rather become a realtor?
Wondering about the difference between a realtor vs real estate agent?
In this article, we’re breaking down what exactly distinguishes a realtor vs real estate agent and everything else you need to know about starting your career as a real estate salesperson.
What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?
Before we talk about the differences between realtor vs real estate agent, let’s cover exactly what real estate agents do.
Real estate agents work with buyers and sellers of real estate, typically residential but sometimes commercial, to facilitate a transaction. They represent a buyer or a seller and his/her best interest, negotiating the best price possible. Real estate agents receive the most basic form of real estate training possible; all realtors and brokers first go through the same real estate agent pre-licensing training.
A real estate agent could take on many different specialties, including becoming a listing agent (or a seller’s agent) or a buyer’s agent. Many real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers, but having a niche can help an agent stand out in a competitive field.
Real estate agents are paid on commission, so if you’re wondering what a real estate agent salary looks like, the answer is: It varies. Usually, an agent will receive between 2-5% of the selling price, minus any fees or commission split with the brokerage. Some brokerages charge agents a flat fee per transaction, while others will ask agents to split their commission with the brokerage. Common splits include 80/20 or 60/40, typically in the agent’s favor.
Related: 5 Best Books for Real Estate Agents
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
In order to become a real estate agent, you’ll need to go through your state’s pre-licensing course and pass an exam. Once you’ve completed the state’s requirements, you will receive your real estate license and can begin working as an agent. Learning how to be a real estate agent does not end with your pre-licensing course, however. Most of the learning you’ll do will be through working with clients hands on.
Real estate agents must work for a real estate agency, otherwise known as a real estate brokerage. Real estate firms, real estate offices, agencies, or brokerages are run by brokers, who are in charge of overseeing all real estate transactions. Real estate agents, though they work independently and ultimately run their own business, cannot operate without the sponsorship of a broker.
Agents are responsible for finding their own clients to work with. In the early stages of their career, real estate agents may find it challenging to generate a steady supply of clientele. However, with experience and practice in marketing and networking, many agents become very successful and busy. Some agents eventually find their workload to exceed what they can handle independently. In this case, many agents will partner up with one another and form teams. Agents might also consider hiring real estate assistants to help them with administrative tasks.
Related: How to Succeed as a Young Real Estate Agent
Real Estate Agent vs Realtor
So what is the difference between a realtor vs real estate agent?
A realtor is essentially the same as a real estate agent, but with one unique distinction. Realtors are members of the NAR, or National Association of Realtors. This means they are held to a higher standard of ethics and excellence by a greater organization.
How to Become a Realtor
If you’re wondering how to be a realtor, the principal of your brokerage must be a member of an association first, before any of his/her agents can join. If becoming a realtor is important to you, you should look to work with brokerages where the principals are already NAR members.
You can find a local association easily online and submit an application. When you are accepted, you’ll need to pay dues to the NAR. Keep in mind, a realtor salary is the same as a real estate agent, except that realtors must pay NAR fees. Make sure you are able to take on enough clients to be able to justify the expense of becoming a realtor before joining an association.
How to Become a Real Estate Broker
What is a broker? A broker is someone who is in charge of overseeing real estate transactions and managing real estate agents.
Much like becoming a real estate agent, a broker must obtain a broker license through completing higher level real estate education and course work. This higher education and understanding of real estate allows brokers to manage a brokerage, though not all brokers will go on to do so. Some agents who have obtained their broker license will become an associate broker and work through another broker’s firm.
Realtor vs Real Estate Agent: Which Is Better?
Still deciding which is right for you: realtor vs real estate agent?
At the end of the day, it comes down to a matter of preference. There are benefits and disadvantages to both, and the answer lies in what is most important to you as a real estate professional.
Holding the title “realtor” comes with many advantages, the most obvious being the prestige. Being able to present yourself as a realtor can instill confidence in the potential clients you speak with, letting them know you are a serious professional.
While this is a nice perk to being a member of the NAR, it shouldn’t be your only consideration. Many buyers and sellers will not know the difference between you being a realtor vs real estate agent, and many will not care. More often than not, clients will make the decision to work with you based on your personality and the experience you provide. If you choose not to become a realtor, you will still have plenty of client opportunities.
Another benefit of becoming a realtor is access to real estate market data, the MLS, and other tools and software, as well as a community of professionals. While these are worthwhile benefits, they do come at the cost of high membership fees, and there are other resources which provide the same benefits. It may be worth exploring what’s available to you before making your choice of becoming a realtor vs real estate agent.
While deciding between becoming a realtor vs real estate agent, check out the tools Mashvisor’s Mashboard provides to both agents and realtors here.
How to Succeed as a Real Estate Professional
Whether you decide to become a realtor vs real estate agent, or eventually obtain a broker license, you’ll need all the best tools and resources at your disposal to see success.
Read also: How to Be a Rich Real Estate Agent – 4 Tips
Becoming a realtor is one way to gain access to resources, but it’s not your only option. Mashvisor provides solutions to real estate agents that help them stand out to prospective clients, make the best decisions on their clients’ behalf, and save time in their business.
With the Mashboard, agents can:
- Instantly qualify leads
- Recommend the best properties to clients
- Find off market properties for clients
- Quickly create professional looking property reports
Do you want to give your career a boost? Claim your free agent profile at Mashvisor.