photo for ethics blog

Did you know that there’s a difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR? Most people we speak with don’t. It might sound like a distinction without a difference, but it’s not. The difference is important because who you work with matters. You want the real estate professional you’re working with to adhere to a code of ethics. And that is exactly what all REALTORS agree to do.

A real estate agent is anyone who earns a real estate license. To earn a real estate salesperson license in Arizona a person must meet the following requirements: 1) Be at least 18 years of age when applying. 2) Complete 90 hours of in classroom real estate salesperson pre-licensing education and pass an examination at an Arizona Department of Real Estate approved real estate school, college, or university. 3) Obtain a Fingerprint Clearance Card by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 4) Complete a Disciplinary Actions Disclosure Form 5) Attend a 6-hour Contract Writing Class  6) Pay Licensing Fees and complete an application. 7) Take a state and national exam.

In order to become a REALTOR a real estate agent must do all of the above, plus become a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), and agree to uphold the standards of the Association, and its Code of Ethics. There are 17 Articles in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS. These outline a REALTORS duties to clients and customers, duties to the public, and duties to other REALTORS.

In order to become a Real Estate Broker, a person must take additional education required by state law that is beyond that which is required of a Real Estate Agent or REALTOR, must have three (3) years actual full-time experience as a salesperson during the immediate five (5) years preceding the application, must complete 9-hour broker management clinic, and must pass the school exam and state and national broker’s license exam. Then, the broker can hire other real estate agents or brokers to work for them, or they can choose to work alone. An Associate Broker is a person who has taken the broker education mentioned above, but who chooses to work under the management of another broker. For example, Kirsten and I are Associate Brokers who work at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage under the company’s Designated Broker. So, not all real estate agents are created equal. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS, but all REALTORS, Associate Brokers, Brokers, and Designated Brokers are real estate agents.

We at The Hill Group have worked very hard to improve the reputation of the real estate industry by following the NAR’s Code of Ethics every time we help someone buy or sell real estate. In addition, I have served as a member of the Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Grievance Committee and Professional Standards Committee for years. Kirsten is currently the Chair of the Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee is responsible for reviewing complaints that have been turned in to the local association to determine whether to dismiss or send forward the complaint to the Professional Standards Committee. The Professional Standards Committee is the judicial body of the Association and conducts hearings on alleged violations of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration.

So, choose your next real estate professional carefully, and ask them if they’re a REALTOR. Expect the best possible service and the highest level of professionalism and ethics.