All Realtors® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors. There are advantages to using a Realtor® in your real estate transaction. Education, ethics and being held to a higher standard give the designation value. Apart from the individual agent, the National Association of Realtors does a great deal to support homeowners and their interests, including lobbying the government on the homeowner’s behalf.
What is a Realtor?
Started in 1908 with 120 members, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has grown to 720,000 members today. In 1913 the organization adopted the Code of Ethics, which dictates following a higher set of standards including Duties to Clients and Customers, Duties to the Public, and Duties to other Realtors.
State and local boards tend to be community focused, while the National Association tackles bigger government issues. An association of this size carries some weight when it comes to dealing with new laws that may not be in the homeowner’s best interest.
Tax Law Showdown
The new tax law put into place at the end of 2017 initially had changes that were not in the best interest of the homeowner. Lawmakers have talked about their desire to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, and in the new tax plan had reduced the deduction limits from $1 million to $500,000. NAR successfully lobbied lawmakers to keep the current deduction in place.
There were a variety of suggested changes in the new tax bill that the Realtor Association wasn’t keen on. A comprehensive list of issues and concerns was published on the NAR web site, and e-mail campaigns were created to contact State Senators to show unified support. Ultimately, the lobbyists were able to maintain many of the beneficial aspects for property owners.
With the lobbyists working in Washington to maintain homeowner rights, who is paying for all of this legal work? The local Realtors through their dues and additional contributions help keep the fight going. Their support also includes issues at a State level. When Colorado lawmakers want to make changes, a local contingency of lobbyists are there to defend our local needs.
Let’s Keep it Ethical
All real estate agents in Colorado are governed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, also known as DORA. The State is responsible for testing, licensing and overseeing all 27,000 active agents in Colorado. They set the rules for Colorado and publish the 476 page Colorado Real Estate Manual to guide the business of real estate. They also handle agent disciplinary actions which can include fines, suspension or revocation of an agent’s license.
While DORA oversees all agents and handles complaints from the general public, the Realtor Association holds it’s own set of standards and ethics. As a self-governing entity, the Association works to increase the level of professionalism through education and holds its own arbitration hearings to resolve business dealings gone awry.
All Realtors are required to take a 4 hour ethics course every two years. An agent who wanders away from ethical dealings can be reported by another Realtor and find themselves in front of an ethics board. Although the board doesn’t have the power to revoke an agent’s license, bad behavior could find its way in front of the Colorado Real Estate Commission for their review and discipline.
The Decision to be a Realtor
Being a Realtor and not just a real estate agent is a choice. It is not a State requirement, but many brokerages, especially the big-brands, see the value in membership and require their agents to join a local Board. As an individual agent, Board membership offers free legal assistance, free technical assistance, access to electronic lock boxes, weekly statistics and market updates, and in some local Boards free Continuing Education classes include the required Annual Update mandated by the State of Colorado.
There aren’t many reasons for an agent to choose to not join a Board and become a Realtor, but there are many advantages to having this designation. For the homeowner wanting to buy or sell a home, choosing a Realtor brings more education, ethics and accountability to the deal. Assuring your agent is a Realtor should be an obvious choice.