Is your real estate agent a REALTOR®? Although some people mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A real estate agent or broker is a person licensed by the state to help others buy, sell, and lease real property. But only real estate agents and brokers who join the National Association of REALTORS®—as well as their state and local associations of REALTORS®—may call themselves REALTORS®.
Why Does it Matter?
All licensed agents and brokers must comply with Texas laws, but REALTORS® go beyond those requirements. For example, all REALTORS® pledge to abide by a Code of Ethics that holds members to higher standards. This Code of Ethics includes 17 articles and dozens of standards of practice that outline the behaviors required of all REALTORS®. Anyone who believes a REALTOR® has not met these obligations may file a complaint, which sets in motion a process to assess whether the member violated the Code of Ethics. If so, that REALTOR® may be required to take further education, be fined, or face suspension or expulsion of membership.
While all real estate license holders must complete continuing education requirements, REALTORS® must take additional classes. Texas REALTORS®—the statewide REALTOR® association in the Lone Star State—offers members many opportunities to develop expertise in specific areas of real estate, such as property management and commercial real estate.
REALTORS® also have access to exclusive tools and information to provide the highest level of service to their clients. For example, only REALTORS® can use two data sources—the REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) and MarketViewer—that contain the most comprehensive, accurate real estate market data available anywhere. And while anyone can use the 30 or so real estate forms promulgated by the Texas Real Estate Commission, REALTORS® also have at their disposal more than 100 Texas REALTORS® forms and contracts to help clients navigate the vast majority of situations that arise in real estate deals.
REALTORS® Work for You in Ways You’ve Never Considered
Collectively, REALTORS® advocate for laws and regulations that benefit property owners, buyers, sellers, landlords, and renters. For example, REALTORS® in Texas have been instrumental in blocking taxes on real estate transactions. Members of Texas REALTORS® have been the driving force behind lowering property taxes, making home equity laws that have protected many homeowners from facing foreclosures, and countless other important initiatives.
In fact, the main reason real estate professionals came together to form an association of REALTORS® in Texas in 1920 was to create higher standards for the industry. In the century since, REALTORS® have continually put the interests of consumers first—fighting for license laws, creating a state agency to regulate the industry, and ensuring Texans enjoy strong private property rights.
How do You Know if Your Agent is a REALTOR®
Before you work with a licensed agent or broker, ask if that person is a member of the REALTOR® association. When the answer is yes, you can be assured you are dealing with someone who has pledged to uphold highest level of professionalism and is committed to helping you meet your goals.