What Is a Realtor?

A realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a professional association. NAR defines the term realtor as a federally registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the association and subscribes to its code of ethics.


6 Questions For Your Realtor

Understanding Realtors

Professionals who hold the title of realtor include agents that work as residential and commercial real estate brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and other real estate professionals. More than 1 million real estate agents are realtors. The term realtor is a registered trademark. Realtors must belong to both a local association or board and a state association.

Realtors are expected to be experts in their field and must follow the NAR's code of ethics, which requires agents to uphold specific duties to clients and customers, to the public and to other realtors. Among its many requirements, the code of ethics says that realtors "shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction." The code also states that realtors "shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations." Furthermore, realtors must "pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client" while treating all parties to the transaction honestly.

Key Takeaways

  • A realtor is a real estate sales professional who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
  • In order for a real estate agent to call them self a realtor they must become a member of the NAR and local chapter as well as uphold professional and ethical standards.
  • The use of the realtor trademark by agents is heavily regulated by the NAR which issues strict rules and guidelines.

Guidelines for Using the Realtor Trademark

NAR maintains stringent rules on the use of the realtor trademark. Professionals who hold membership as a realtor or realtor-associate on a member board are licensed to use realtor trademarks in connection with their name and the name of their real estate business. The realtor trademark is prohibited from being used as part of the legal corporate name of members of the association. NAR says this is to avoid the legal issues of a corporate name change if a member was be suspended or expelled from the association and lost the rights to use the trademark.

The NAR’s guidelines state that if a qualified member uses the realtor trademark as part of his or her name, it must appear in all capital letters and be set off from the member’s name by punctuation. The realtor trademark is not used by the NAR with descriptive terms or as a description of the vocation the way terms such as real estate broker, agent or licensee are used. The association also says the realtor trademarks are not to be used as a designation of the licensed status of a professional.