If you’re looking for someone who can help you buy or sell a home, you may have noticed that there are plenty of different certifications and titles out there for real estate professionals. Two common ones that you’ll hear are real estate agent and REALTOR®.
If you figured that these two titles were interchangeable, or if you’re not confident in the differences between the two, then keep reading! Buying or selling a home is a significant transaction and it’s important to understand the credentials, abilities, and limitations of the person you choose to enlist.
Here is a quick breakdown of the two designations and the main differences between them.
What is a licensed real estate agent?
Those interested in becoming a licensed real estate agent must apply to the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC), which is responsible for the licensing of real estate agents. In order to register for the course, applicants must meet RECBC’s Good Reputation Guidelines as well as a number of other requirements.
Once accepted, applicants must complete the Real Estate Trading Services Licensing Course and pass an exam before applying for licensing. They must then complete an Applied Practice Course within six months before obtaining their license.
Once licensed, the agents are required to follow the Real Estate Services Act.
RECBC offers education, determines suitability for licensing, conducts inspections, investigates concerns, and has the power to take disciplinary action when necessary. All of this is done to protect the interests of the general public.
Licensed real estate agents are trained and should be knowledgeable about the market, as well as the processes and legalities involved in a real estate transaction. This is the minimum requirement to look for in a real estate professional.
All REALTORS® are also real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.
What is a REALTOR®?
REALTORS® are licensed real estate agents who are also members of the governing real estate board for that area. In the British Columbia Interior, for example, the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) is the governing body for REALTORS® in that area.
There are 11 real estate boards in BC that are supported by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), which is governed by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
REALTORS® have more rigorous educational standards and opportunities, higher professional and business practice standards, and follow a strict code of ethics which is enforced by the real estate board. They also have access to the real estate MLS System (where all listings are uploaded, which real estate agents do not have access to), are regularly sent industry updates and statistics, networking opportunities, arbitration services, and more.
Many real estate agents choose to become a REALTOR® for more opportunities, resources, support, education, and the reputation in the industry. That’s also exactly why many home owners and buyers choose to work with REALTORS® over other agents.