As someone who is either planning or wants to become a real estate agent, you may have frequently come across the terms, real estate agent and REALTOR®. You may even have assumed that they both mean the same. If so, then we are here to tell you that a realtor and a real estate agent are two distinct terms, and why you should consider becoming a REALTOR® if you are interested in building a career in real estate as an agent.

In this article, we shall provide you a detailed overview of the steps required to becoming a REALTOR®.

Before we get into the detailed explanation, here is a brief way for you to remember the difference between an agent and a realtor.

An agent is the first step. An agent is someone who has cleared the requisite state real estate exams and now possesses a real estate license. You need this as a foundation for your career in the world of real estate.

A REALTOR®, on the other hand, is someone who had started off as an agent, but now possesses more experience and is a member of the REALTOR® association called National Association of REALTORs® NAR.

So how are you supposed to start your journey to becoming a real estate agent then?

1. Identify Your State’s Requirements —

There is no pan nation or federal examination to become a real estate professional, so the primary step is to inquire about your state’s requirements and rules regarding the same. Look up the details on your state-level real estate regulatory website.

The common requirements across most states are as follows:

Minimum age of the applicant
Minimum educational qualifications/ education requirements (such as a high school diploma or GED)
Proof of pre-licensing classes and post-licensing requirements
Details regarding the examination and its eligibility
Submission of the application process and payment of fees
Background check/verification checks and submission of fingerprints
Further education
Eligibility for the next level of licensing
Reporting of any prior criminal history

2. Undergo A Pre-Licensing Course —

You need to enroll in a properly accredited institute and complete the training needed as per your state’s real estate pre-licensing course requirements. The duration of the course is state-specific. This ranges from 65 hours in Florida to a whopping 180 hours in Texas. You may have the option of either attending online classes or in-person classes. These courses broadly cover aspects of real estate law, which are the legal aspects, real estate principles that focus on ethical practice, real estate practice, fair housing laws, etc. All these courses are meant to give a strong foundation to your skills as a real estate agent.

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3. Appear For The Real Estate Licensing Exam —

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Your instructors or trainers at the institute from where you have completed your pre-licensing courses would provide you complete guidance regarding key aspects of the tests, such as scheduling, registering, paying for the examination, and pass the exam. The exam would have different sections and is in a multiple-choice structure. Each state has its own passing criteria, the number of attempts permitted duration between re-tests, etc. After you take the real estate licensing test, depending on the format and the state regulations, you would be informed of your results either immediately or within a week.

4. Apply For Real Estate Agents License —

Once you are fully prepared, take the test and after you have cleared your license exam, you are just another step closer to becoming a real estate agent. You would need to submit an application for obtaining your real estate agent accreditation. You also have to submit the requisite fee and other required documents as per your state’s law. Post verification and approval, your real estate agent license will be mailed to you or available online. Now you are ready to offer your services as an agent to your clients.

All new agents are required to work with a broker, or you may join a real estate team to learn the ropes in the initial months or even years. You could even consider registering on a leading real estate platform like Dorrmat. This would help you get quality leads, and that too, in a steady manner. Platforms like Dorrmat cater to both agents and homeowners and sellers.

Now that you know the requirements of becoming an agent, the next valid step is to become a REALTOR®.

So if you are thinking about becoming a REALTOR®, what is it that you need to do? This is is the process that is required.

Step 1. Identify and locate, from the NAR’s website, the local organization in your city.

Step 2. Verify if the broker or the brokerage with whom you are working has an affiliation with the local Board of Realtors (BOR) or Association. This affiliation of the broker is a mandatory requirement.

Step 3. Submit an application and pay the required fees to become an accredited member of your local organization.

Step 4. Undergo a Code of Ethics training or prep courses to become a member of the NAR.

Step 5. Appear for the NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice exam.

Step 6. Obtain the title of REALTOR®, which gives you access to the NAR’s local organization and other associated benefits.

Now, this is where most real estate agents are stumped. They believe that all this is an unnecessary hassle, or why bother when they are already a licensed real estate agent and have a thriving career?

Let us then inform you in more detail about the perks of becoming a REALTOR®.

Benefits of Becoming a REALTOR®

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1. Expanded Work Network —

By joining the NAR, you have access to a vast network of highly experienced and successful REALTORs®. It is a simple rule of thumb, the wider your network of contacts is, the higher your chances of being able to help buy or sell your client’s property. It enhances your job prospects as you are more successful than your peers.

2. Perquisites For Members —

By joining the association of REALTORs®, you will have multiple job-related benefits provided to you. First, you will get discounts on a wide range of services and products related to the real estate business, such as reduced rates for various insurance policies.

Moreover, you also get to avail yourself of a vehicle or business-related loans from the federal credit union for REALTOR®.

3. Enhanced Status —

Only those real estate agents who are registered members of the NAR are permitted to refer to themselves as REALTORs®. These REALTORs® have to abide by a strict code of ethics of this organization. This code of conduct brings additional credibility and trust for an agent. You would find it easier to convert your leads, as most home buyers and homeowners would be glad to work with a REALTOR®.

4. Access To Real Estate Data —

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One of the key benefits of becoming a REALTOR® lies in the wide range of access that accredited members are given to state and national level databases of information gathered related to different aspects of real estate. A REALTOR® would be able to view records of foreclosures, mortgage numbers, zoning and permits, lien data, and more through the REALTORs® Property Resource (RPR). The RPR is a massive virtual database of all real estate assessment information and public records.

It is simple, you need to become an accredited member of the NAR. This small step can bring a big change in your professional progress.

Summary —

After going through the above-mentioned aspects, we would like to believe that your doubts about whether you need to put in additional efforts to become a REALTOR® have been resolved.

Like any other profession, where there are stages of progress in the real estate industry, becoming a REALTOR® is the natural next step after becoming and having worked as a successful real estate agent. This small step will certainly take you far in terms of your real estate career and professional success.