Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Would a Realtor by any other name work as professionally? I don’t know about the rose thing, but so far as Realtors go, the answer is probably not. 

Not every rose is red, and not every real estate agent is a Realtor.

Licensed real estate salespersons who are Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors, and are held to a higher ethical standard than other licensed sales agents. To become a Realtor, one must adhere to a Code of Ethics to ensure a higher level of professionalism and to protect the public.

The definition of Realtor, per the National Association of Realtors (NAR): REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is member of the NAR and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Pronunciation, per me: Real-Tor. That’s right, it is pronounced exactly as it is spelled rather than in the common way (real-y-tar or real-a-tar) that unnecessarily inserts an “a” or “y” in the middle of the word. Put a smile on the face of your friendly Realtor by pronouncing their job title correctly. While they are not likely to risk an awkward conversation during a business meeting by correcting a mispronunciation, that same mispronunciation has the effect of nails on a chalkboard in the mind of a Realtor.

The NAR Code of Ethics matters to you, the consumer, for several reasons.

A compilation of 17 articles, The Code of Ethics and associated Standards of Practice are meant to guide Realtors to work at a highly professional level that puts the client’s best interest first at all times. You may want to read the Code of Ethics on realtor.com, as it details the Realtor’s duties to you, their client. Realtors have chosen to voluntarily adhere to the highest level of moral conduct in all real estate related business practices. By choosing to work with a Realtor, you are choosing to work with someone who has pledged to do their utmost to perform in a competent and honest fashion in every aspect of your real estate transaction.

NAR has come a long way since its inception in 1908, when it began with just 120 members. Today, it holds the distinction of being the world’s largest professional association, with over 1 million members. Members have the ability to obtain specialty designations centered on specific elements of the trade. There are numerous designations available, and so when you see 3 letters after a Realtor’s name, look into what type of designation it indicates and see if it qualifies that Realtor as a great fit for your specific real estate needs.

Hallmark, if you’re ever thinking of a new line of real estate centered greeting cards, how about this one: “Roses are red and violets are blue, Realtors are ethical and Realtors are true.” Better stick to my day job, huh?

Written by Jessica Miller Lipscomb, Owner/Houses & More Real Estate. Jessica can be reached at jessica@housesandmorerealestate.com or 304.216.2440.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.