Realtor.Rock: The difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent

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Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s interview is with Alona McClenthen, an e-certified REALTOR with Prudential Crosby REALTORS, 551 N. Mulford, Rockford. She can be reached at her office at (815) 231-2902 or by e-mail at

There seems to be some confusion between the terms REALTOR and real estate agent. Can you clarify for us what the differences are? What does the term REALTOR actually mean, and are all real estate agents REALTORS?

All REALTORS are licensed agents, but not all licensed agents are REALTORS. Only a REALTOR can display the logo, which is a federally-registered trademark licensed exclusively to its members. To earn this designation, a REALTOR has taken coursework and demonstrated specific skills, performance, and knowledge in a particular area of the real estate industry. Unlike other real estate agents, a REALTOR is a member of the National, State and Local Association of Realtors, and is bound by its strict Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics includes: loyalty to clients, fiduciary (legal) duty to clients, cooperation with competitors, and truthfulness in statements and advertising as well as non-interference in exclusive relationships that other REALTORS have with their clients. Licensed agents are not held accountable for violations regarding the Code of Ethics and, as a result of lack of membership to the Association of Realtors, they are unable to participate in the MLS [Multiple Listing Service].

What is the advantage of working with a REALTOR?

REALTORS have access to quality continuing education programs to help gain greater knowledge of the real estate business. The decision to buy or sell a home is one of the most important ones you can make, so choosing a REALTOR is also a very important decision and should not be taken lightly. A REALTOR has the resources and dedication to guide you throughout the process of buying or selling a home or property. A REALTOR not only has the knowledge of the entire buying or selling process, but also has the ability to obtain vital information on current and future trends, zoning and other issues that affect homeowners. Your REALTOR can also recommend home inspection services to assist you with the condition of a home, pests, mold, radon and other potential hazards that may be unseen otherwise.

When purchasing a home or property, a REALTOR can assist you with finding a mortgage lender who can help you determine what you can afford and the best financing programs available. A REALTOR can then show you homes based on what you want to spend and that meet your criteria through the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. The MLS has all homes listed through participating members owning individual Real Estate Brokerage firms and has valuable information on prior and current home sales and market trends in particular areas of interest.

What would be some advantages of using a REALTOR vs. selling my own home?

A REALTOR can free a seller from the time, effort and detailed demands involved with the sale of a property. The requirement of selling a home goes far beyond just sticking a “For Sale” sign in the yard. In today’s complex real estate market, the necessary steps to a successful sale, both practical and legal, are difficult to navigate unless you are a trained professional. REALTORS can establish fair market value and provide maximum exposure due to many resources available. A REALTOR does a lot of homework in order to sell your home, and can often obtain a greater purchase price in a shorter amount of time and with less inconvenience than you could by selling it yourself. Before the first showing and beyond the final sale, you will get the expertise and service you look for in a real estate professional who knows how to sell your home or property.

The marketing of a given property has also become much more complex due to increased competition from the use of the Internet, where now a potential buyer can look at every home in any given area that meets their search criteria in a matter of minutes. This means REALTORS have to become much more skilled at marketing a property than ever before. With the aid of the Multiple Listing Service and advertising—both in print media as well as the Internet—a REALTOR can list a home and work with other REALTORS to assure a wider range of qualified prospective buyers. When using a REALTOR as a buyer, your best interest is always in mind as they are your “Buyer’s Agent” and represent only you during the process. And since the agents are paid from the selling side, their services are at virtually no cost to you!

There are many advantages of having your own REALTOR. REALTORS are here to take the stress out of the home-buying and selling process. Get the service you deserve…call a local REALTOR today! Even after the transaction is complete, I’m at your service. My commitment to my clients is lifelong. I’m proud to be a REALTOR.

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the July 11-17, 2007, issue

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