How to get a Realtor License

A real estate professional with a REALTOR® license is a NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) active member. As a matter of fact, the word REALTOR® is a trademark owned by this association as well as protected by federal law. One of the things that makes any REALTOR® an awesome expert is the hard work that they continuously do in the background, and that their clients don’t know about. People who have a REALTOR® license are earning their commission 24/7. Just like real estate agents they’re preparing properties for sale, writing up the listing paperwork, presenting all the offers to the sellers, and so on. But that’s not where a REALTOR®’s responsibilities end.

REALTOR® license extra tasks

NAR Membership: As mentioned above, having a REALTOR® license requires being a member of NAR.

Respecting NAR’s code of ethics: REALTORS® must follow the association’s strict code of ethics and practice standards when conducting business. The core message of this code is to treat all parties with honesty and fairness. REALTORS® can’t withhold information or mislead anyone who is involved in the transaction.

Clients’ interests: One of the REALTOR®’s main responsibilities is promoting and protecting the clients’ (sellers or buyers) interests.

Marketing properties: Besides the tasks of a real estate agent, a REALTOR® is also the one developing a comprehensive, solid marketing plan for clients, addressing their needs, and focusing on attracting new buyers. People with a REALTOR® license are in charge of using various marketing techniques and tools available to NAR members to draw attention to properties. Aside from that, REALTORS® network and cooperate with real estate agents, focusing on successfully closing property sales. For example, REALTORS® can hold open house events or virtual tours for fellow real estate professionals and discuss key details about the property with the agents.

Evaluating and pre-screening: During due diligence, professionals with a REALTOR® license have to provide a property evaluation including the property’s title, limitations, and easements. The REALTOR® also pre-screens potential buyers before accompanying them to the client’s property. Moreover, a REALTOR® is responsible for making sure that the other real estate professionals, REALTORS®, and companies he or she collaborates with are trustworthy.

Other responsibilities: People with a REALTOR® license can assist or help clients in finding other qualified professionals for appraisals, financing, home inspections, or surveys.

How to get your REALTOR® license

To become part of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), you first have to join your local real estate association or board. Your membership will automatically be extended to the state and national association. As a new member, you’ll have to take the online ethics code course and pass an exam. In addition, to be a member of your local association or board, you’ll have to pay an annual fee covering membership dues for any state-level associations as well as for NAR.

Later, as a current member, you’ll still have to take an online refresher ethics code course on a regular basis (every four years).

One of the requirements for real estate agents to be part of NAR is having a license to work in this industry. Nevertheless, licensees who have a currently pending bankruptcy case or who have simply filed for bankruptcy will not be able to join this exclusive association. Additionally, real estate professionals must have their records clear of any sanctions for unethical conduct.

If working with a company, agents should make sure that one of their organization principals is part of NAR, or else they won’t be admitted to the association. A firm’s principals can be sole proprietors, officers, partners, or shareholders. In the situation where none of these professionals is a NAR member, agents working at that company can’t be members, either.

Benefits of being a REALTOR®

Once you’ve earned your real estate license, you might wonder if becoming a REALTOR® would be worth it. In short, deciding that you want to go one step further in your career by being a REALTOR® is a no-brainer, especially if you want to keep doing this for a long time. Here are some reasons why:

  • Being a REALTOR® (thus a NAR member) offers you the benefit of a strong, collective voice that lobbies federal and state governments for better legal protections. This works in your favor, as NAR strives to protect your interests. Not to mention that through your membership dues, you’ll support the real estate industry.
  • As members of local associations, people with a REALTOR® license can stay updated with the best practices for their communities.
  • Networking is another huge benefit of a REALTOR® license. You’ll have a lot of opportunities to meet fellow colleagues and create strong, long-lasting professional relationships that will help you sell or buy quicker.
  • With a REALTOR® license, you’ll have access to the REALTOR® MLS, where you’ll find real estate market data that’s otherwise unsearchable. You’ll be able to see for how long properties were listed, their original prices, and the times they sold. This is awesome for building knowledge about your area, therefore becoming a better agent.
  • REALTORS® can use several tools that help them continue their education process and facilitate their participation at annual conferences. This can level-up their skills and enhance their chances of being successful in this extremely competitive industry. Plus, you’ll have various discounts on services and products such as home or auto insurance and office supplies.
  • The REALTOR® name has a great reputation. Most people are aware that REALTORS® respect a higher conduct standard and ethics code, hence they’ll appreciate that you’ve made some extra effort to invest in your career and show your dedication.

Differences between REALTORS® and real estate agents

When it comes to distinctions between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent, keep in mind that not every licensee is a REALTOR®, while every REALTOR® is a real estate licensee.  While a real estate agent is someone who takes the state exam and gets the license, a REALTOR® is someone who goes to a local board, joins it, and becomes a member of NAR. Both REALTORS® and real estate agents are licensed to sell properties in their state. But the REALTOR® has elected to conduct their business according to the code of ethics that was instituted by the National Association of REALTORS®. Therefore, a REALTOR® holds itself to a higher code of ethics, higher standards, and a higher degree of professionalism. Here are a few things that those with a REALTOR® license promise to do:

  • Put their clients’ interest ahead of theirs and treat all parties with honesty.
  • Investigate situations and when they found them to be problematic, disclose the issues. Avoid misrepresenting, overstating, or hide material details about properties.
  • Collaborate with other agents and brokers whenever this is in the best interest of the client.
  • Disclose if they’re a principal in a transaction that they’re licensed to sell real estate or if they represent family members who want to buy or own real estate.
  • Refrain from offering professional services in transactions where the agent has a contemplated or present interest without revealing that interest.
  • Not accept any kind of fees from third parties without the seller’s consent nor accept commissions without the seller’s knowledge.
  • Turn down fees from more than one party without the informed consent from all parties.
  • Not combine the client’s fund with the agent’s.
  • Make sure that all documents are easily understandable and provide all parties with a copy when they sign.
  • Never discriminate in any way for any reason based on national origin, color, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, familial status, or handicap.
  • Be proficient in conforming to the standards of practice and not offer services they’re not qualified for.
  • Be honest in marketing and advertising properties.
  • Unless the REALTOR® is a lawyer, not practice law.
  • If there are charges brought against them, be cooperative, honest, and present all the requested evidence.
  • Not file ethics complaints that are unfounded, nor denigrate competition.
  • Not ask for clients of other REALTORS® or get involved in a contractual relationship.
  • Submit to mediation to settle matters as well as not seek judicial reliefs in the legal system.

It’s also important to mention that, besides real estate agents, professionals with a REALTOR® license can also be property managers, real estate brokers, home appraisers, and real estate counselors. In fact, only approximately 50% of the real estate agents in the United States are REALTORS®.

Although novel real estate technologies constantly pop up and aim to help home sellers and buyers, these tools can’t replace what an experienced and knowledgeable real estate professional can do for clients.

At the end of the day, it’s your decision if you go for a REALTOR® license. Explore the benefits of this title and figure out if the money and time investments are relevant for your career. And, if you consider that it’s the perfect moment to invest in your business, go for it.