The Association became the largest trade association in the United States in the early 1970s, with over 400,000 members. Today, the National Association of REALTORS® has over 1.1 million members, 54 state associations (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) and more than 1,300 local associations.
Often, I am posed with the question: “Aren’t real estate agents and REALTORS® the same?”
In short, the answer is no. While all REALTORS® are in fact real estate agents, not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.
Both real estate agents and REALTORS® are licensed professionals who completed state secondary educational training plus successfully passed both state and national exams in order to obtain licenses to practice real estate. However, REALTORS® are real estate agents who joined the National Association of REALTORS®.
Founded in 1908 as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges, the objective was “to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of effectively exerting a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests.” In 1913, a Code of Ethics was adopted with the Golden Rule as its theme. By 1916, the National Association of real Estate Exchange’s names was changed to the National Association of Real Estate Boards. That same year, the term “REALTOR”, identifying real estate professionals who are members of the National Association and subscribers to its strict Code of Ethics. In 1972, the name of the National Association of Real Estate Boards was changed to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
The NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice establishes ethical duties that all REALTORS® agree to follow as a condition of their membership. These duties provide a high level of service and professionalism to clients/customers and are the key factor separating REALTORS® from all other real estate practitioners.