Have you been thinking about entering the real estate field & getting your license?

OCC is partnering with The CE Shop to offer a 77 hour online course to help anyone who wishes to become a Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Salesperson. These mandatory pre-license courses are New York State approved and will qualify you to take the state exam.

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New York State Agent Licensing Requirements:

Realtor handing home keys to new homeowner
  • A person who wishes to sell, lease or rent property for a fee or commission must be licensed as either a broker or salesperson

  • To become a broker you need a minimum of two years of previous active real estate experience as a salesperson

  • In order to become a licensed salesperson it is required you take a 75 hour salesperson licensing qualifying course

  • A broker may open and operate an office

  • A salesperson can only work under the supervision of a broker

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Helpful Articles

Understanding the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent

Realtor shaking hands with new home buyers
Realtor shaking hands with new home buyers

By: The CE Shop Team

Is a Licensed Realtor the Same as a Licensed Real Estate Agent? 

At first glance, the terms “Realtor” and “real estate agent” may seem as if they can be used interchangeably. After all, both terms refer to licensed professionals who help people buy, sell, and lease residential and commercial property. This is their key similarity. But, there's also a key difference. 

A Realtor—and more formally, a REALTOR®— is a licensed real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the largest trade association in the U.S.




Major Differences Between Real Estate Agents & Realtors 

  Real Estate Agent REALTOR®
Who They Are A real estate agent is a licensed sales professional who helps clients buy, sell, and lease property. A Realtor (or REALTOR®) is a real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
What Duties They Have - Handle all documents in a real estate transaction
- Represent client(s) (buyers, sellers, property owners, and lessees) in purchase and lease negotiations
- Carries out the same duties as those of a real estate agent
What Education They Have - Completes requires Pre-Licensing courses
- Passes national and state licensing exams
- Maintains an active license with their state's real estate commission
- Stays current on national- and state-required Continuing Education (CE)
- Meets the same education requirements as those of real estate agents
- Completes an additional 2.5 hours of NAR Code of Ethics training every three years
Additional Differentiators - Does not have to be a member of their local NAR Board of Realtors (unless their state requires it)
- May not have access to the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) if they are not a member of their local NAR Board
- In certain states, the real estate agent can get private access to the local MLS without a local NAR Board membership
- Is required to be a member of the local NAR Board of Realtors
- Has access to the local MLS through their local NAR Board membership
- Must adhere to the strict NAR Code of Ethics
- Pays membership dues to NAR each year
- May actively advocate for NAR's federal policy initiatives

What is a Realtor? 

A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who has joined NAR. A NAR membership provides additional benefits agents might find attractive both for their business and livelihood. These include: 

  • Local NAR Board of Realtors Membership.  All NAR members are required to join their local NAR Board of Realtors. This membership can open additional local networking and leadership opportunities. 
  • MLS Access.  NAR governs all the MLS entities in the U.S. In some states and regions, membership in your local NAR Board is your only link to accessing the MLS.  
  • Additional Education Opportunities.  NAR has its own real estate CE courses and certifications available to all licensed Realtors.  
  • More Visibility in Your Local Area.  As a NAR Realtor, you’ll be listed in NAR’s membership directory, which is searchable by potential clients who are looking for Realtors in their locales. 
  • Access to NAR Marketing Materials.  Realtors also have access to NAR-branded marketing materials and can legally use the NAR logo and name in their marketing collateral. 
  • Access to Agent Services.  Transaction management, technology, and office services are all available at a discount to NAR Realtors. 
  • Access to Discounted Benefit Plans.  As a NAR Realtor, you also have access to discounted health, dental, vision, life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance plans. 

NAR Code of Ethics  

Adherence to NAR’s Code of Ethics is a key requirement of a Realtor’s NAR membership. The NAR Code of Ethics is a little different—and stricter—than those of your state’s real estate commission. The NAR Code is comprised of 17 Articles that form the guidelines all Realtors must follow. These guidelines cover a Realtor’s duty to the profession, to their clients and customers, to the public, and to other Realtors. 

The Preamble of the NAR Code of Ethics notably culminates in a powerful statement referencing the Golden Rule. 

“In the interpretation of (these) obligation(s), REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, ‘Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.’” 

How Did NAR Get Started?  

NAR is the largest trade organization in the U.S., and it’s composed of 1.5 million+ members who are real estate brokers, real estate agents, property managers, appraisers, and others working in the real estate industry. 

NAR was founded in 1908 and originally named the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges. It went on to experience a few more name changes until it became the National Association of REALTORS® in 1972 and began using its current logo. Read more about NAR’s history

What Is a Real Estate Agent?  

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps clients buy, sell, and lease residential and commercial real estate property.  

Licensed real estate agents handle all aspects of real estate business, including: 

  • Listing seller properties for sale or lease 
  • Helping buyers search for and purchase property 
  • Representing sellers and negotiating on their behalf in transactions 
  • Representing buyers and negotiating on their behalf in transactions 
  • Managing the flow of real estate sales transactions from purchase contract to closing 
  • Offering real estate advice to clients based on local market trends 

Each state’s real estate commission governs the type of real estate license you must earn to conduct business as a real estate agent. The license types can be different from state to state. In Illinois, for example, you’ll earn an Illinois Real Estate Broker license, while in Louisiana, you’ll earn a Louisiana Real Estate Salesperson license. 

In all states, to become a real estate agent, you must complete a real estate Pre-Licensing course, take and pass state and national licensing exams, apply to become an agent through your state’s real estate commission, and pass a background check. 

Real estate agents have a choice in joining NAR and becoming Realtors. 

What Is a Real Estate Broker?  

A real estate broker is a real estate agent licensed to: 

  • Work independently 
  • Own and operate a real estate brokerage as a designated broker 
  • Employ real estate agents, associate brokers, and a managing broker 

Brokers generally need to have a certain number of years of experience working as a real estate agent before they can earn their Broker license. The process for earning a real estate Broker license is similar to earning a real estate Salesperson license. Broker candidates need to take an additional Pre-Licensing course covering broker state rules and regulations and pass a national and state broker exam. 

Real estate brokers generally always join NAR. Their membership as an organization allows all real estate agents working underneath them the option of joining NAR. 

Should Real Estate Agents Become Realtors?  

The choice of whether to move from real estate agent to Realtor is up to you! Many agents welcome the benefits that come with NAR membership. Others run their businesses successfully without a NAR membership.  

In some states, joining NAR might be highly recommended—especially if it’s the only way to access your local MLS. In other states, a NAR membership might be nice to have, but it’s not a necessity. It’s also worth mentioning that your real estate broker may require you to become a member of NAR and adopt the Code of Ethics as a condition of joining the brokerage.  

Be sure to weigh the pros and cons—and the requirements applicable to you—when deciding whether or not to become a Realtor.  

How Do You Sign Up For NAR? 

To become a member of NAR, you must first meet the NAR membership qualifications. Then, you are required to join your local association of Realtors (also called your local Board of REALTORS®). When you join your local Board of Realtors, you’ll automatically be a member of your state association of Realtors and NAR. 

How Much Does It Cost to Join NAR?  

Annual membership dues for NAR are $150 each year—due by January 1st. Alongside paying your NAR dues, you’ll need to pay your membership dues for your local NAR Board. These fees can vary but are usually under $150 annually. Many agents consider both membership expenses as overhead costs when running a real estate business. 

Once you become a member of NAR, it's often helpful to take a course on applying the principles of the NAR Code of Ethics to your real estate business. This knowledge can help you further differentiate yourself from other Realtors in your local area. 

Can Property Managers and Appraisers Join NAR?  

NAR memberships aren’t only for real estate agents and brokers. Other professionals who work in real estate can join and have access to the NAR benefits. These include property managers, real estate appraisers, and others engaged in the real estate industry. 

Realtor Reviewing Houses

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