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What Is The Difference Between A Real Estate Agent And A Realtor?


In many endeavors in life, it is simple and practical to follow the principle that too many cooks spoil the broth.  For example, the fewer people involved in the planning of your wedding, the better.  Likewise, many entrepreneurs look back fondly on their startup days, when two or three friends made their great idea profitable; in retrospect, the trouble started when the suits got involved.  If you are buying real estate, though, there are necessarily lots of people involved, even if the real estate property in question is just a one-bedroom condominium unit.  Whether or not you work with a real estate agent, there is a lot of work for you as a buyer or seller, and the professionals you are dealing with tend to change their minds about important matters multiple times before the property changes hands.  If you have questions about what is business as usual in the residential or commercial real estate industry and when it is time for a legal challenge, contact a Washington DC real estate lawyer.

Licensing and Qualifications in the Real Estate Industry

The terms “real estate agent” and “realtor” are not interchangeable.  All real estate agents must pass a statewide licensing exam in order to work as real estate agents; they do not need to have a bachelor’s degree, but most of them have at least some postsecondary education.  Realtors are also licensed as real estate agents, but they have also taken a course to make them eligible to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  Realtor is actually a trademarked term that can refer only to NAR members.  In order to keep their NAR membership active, realtors must pay annual dues of $150 and take a recertification course every four years.  In practice, the standards of real estate ethics, such as being honest with all parties involved in the real estate transaction and disclosing conflicts of interest, are the same for all agents, whether or not they join the NAR.  Real estate agents who do not run the NAR are usually self-employed or members of very small businesses that do not have the resources to pay for the courses and dues.

Almost all commercial real estate agents are realtors.  Commercial real estate agents, who can sell commercial properties (such as shopping centers and warehouses) and apartment buildings with more than four units have stricter licensing requirements and a more challenging licensing exam.  They must have a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, or a related field.

Real Estate Agents and Realtors Are Not Lawyers

One of the rules of real estate ethics is that real estate agents and realtors must not practice law or give legal advice unless they are lawyers, which most of them are not.  If you have legal questions about the sale or purchase of a real estate property, contact a real estate attorney.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. About Making Sense of Real Estate Transactions

A Washington, D.C. real estate lawyer can help you exercise your rights during a real estate transaction, when it seems like the rules are always changing.  Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. for help.



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