REALTOR® is an individual who has a real estate license, works in real estate and, most importantly, is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and adheres to the NAR code of ethics.
The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark and should not be used generically to refer to a real estate agent or a real estate broker, as it is often the case.
An agent is a professional who has passed the state real estate license examination and is authorized to represent a seller or a buyer in a real estate transaction. Agents cannot operate individually – it is required that they be managed by a Broker.
A real estate Broker has more education and experience than an agent and is required to pass additional state examinations in order to obtain a broker license. This certification allows the professional to either operate individually or employ agents or other brokers and manage a brokerage.
Neither the Agent, nor the Broker are licensed REALTORS® unless they are members of the National Association of REALTORS®, as well.
Become a member of a local association/board of REALTORS® and it will automatically extend to the state and national level.
Find local associations of REALTORS® in your area by browsing the NAR list. Alternatively, contact NAR and the association can guide you to a local board in your area, which you can then contact regarding membership.
Agents affiliated with a broker can opt to enroll in the association only if their Broker is a REALTOR®. The principals of a real estate firm must first join a REALTOR® association before any associates can join. Principals are defined as: sole proprietors; partners in a partnership; corporate officers or majority shareholders of a corporation or branch office managers acting on behalf of the principal.
Typically it is the seller who handles the commission in a real estate transaction, unless an agreement is made between buyer and seller to cover commission costs otherwise. REALTOR® fees usually come out of the amount that the seller gets for the property. The REALTOR® or the REALTOR®’s brokerage then distributes the commission to all parties involved – this includes the buyer’s real estate representative.
However, the REALTOR®’s commission is only part of the closing costs and some of these costs are supported by the buyer. It is generally advised that each party have its own representative to negotiate closing costs. Whether you are buying or selling the property, your REALTOR® should present you with a detailed account of costs involved in a possible transaction.
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