The Difference Between Realtors® and Real Estate Agents

I. Realtors® Defined

There is a subtle but significant difference between Realtors® and real estate agents and it’s not just something confusing to students at the West Virginia Real Estate School, Spruce School of Real Estate, it’s everyone. Said simply, just because you hold a WV Real Estate License it doesn’t mean you automatically have earned the title of REALTOR®: while both a real estate agent and a REALTOR® are licensed to list and sell real estate, only Realtors® have pledged to adhere to a Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). This doesn’t change the fact that both agents and Realtors® are held to the same legal standards in terms of principles and practice, but it does subject Realtors® to the enforcement of a set of 17 ethical standards that are strictly governed.

In addition, because Realtors® are active members of the NAR, they are trademarked as such, and may only use the trademark according to the rules and guidelines of the organization.

Otherwise, both real estate agents and Realtors® have gone through the process of getting a real estate license (in West Virginia, this means taking a 90-hour class and passing the state exam), and are regulated by the same state laws.

So hopefully this statement is making a little more sense now. Just because you hold a WV Real Estate License you can’t call yourself a REALTOR because after you pass the state exam you have yet to become a member to carry the REALTOR designation.

II. The NAR Headquartered in Chicago, The National Association of Realtors® is the largest professional association for real estate practitioners. Residential and commercial real estate salespeople, brokers, appraisers, property managers, and other real estate professionals make up the NAR’s membership body.

So what does this all mean? This means AFTER you get your WV Real Estate License you actually have to do MORE to become a REALTOR®. To join, members must complete a course and pass the exam testing them on their understanding of the code of ethics. Every four years after this, Realtors® must take a refresher course. Members join their local board, which gives them automatic membership in the NAR. (WV Real Estate License Professionals will join their local chapter of the West Virginia Association of Realtors: http://www.wvrealtors.com).

One of the many benefits of becoming a Realtor® is the opportunity it provides for continuing education and self-development as a real estate practitioner. The NAR hosts conferences and networking events, all of which enhances an agent’s ability to gain advantage in a competitive industry. And simply by having the Realtor® designation, salespeople benefit from the inherent trust it draws from clients.

III. The Code of Ethics The Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913, and is enforced by a panel of NAR leaders who evaluate complaints involving the conduct of their members in order to take disciplinary action, if necessary. The code is made up of 17 articles each Realtor® pledges to uphold, including duties to clients and customers (articles 1-9), duties to the public (articles 10-14), and duties to Realtors® (articles 15-17).

The code is revised yearly, but one thing that remains arguably the most important is a Realtor’s pledge to treat all parties fairly and honestly. Real estate professionals should always abide by their own intrinsic sense of ethical standards, but in practice it is inevitable that there will be gray areas and blurred lines – this is when a professional code of ethics becomes a beacon to both practitioners and clients.

Overall, getting the Realtor® designation is always a smart consideration. Between the opportunities for growth, networking, and self-development as an individual and a professional, it can be a valuable enhancement to your career. See the NAR’s website for more information: http://www.realtor.org

Whether you’re taking classes at Spruce, the West Virginia Real Estate School, or have been practicing real estate for years, this topic has always been muddy. People will always seem to confuse a REALTOR® and a real estate agent are and use the term synonymously when they are actually very different. Hopefully this write up helped a little. Whether you’re looking to get a WV real estate license or a real estate license in any state the REALTOR designation is a national entity and this info can be applied to your own locality.

Genuine West Virginia Real Estate School

There are some licenses that empower holders to act in particular capacities wherever in the country and – it can some be said, in the world – they happen to be. Types of Licenses that might grant this authority would include Radio Services Licenses, Software Licenses, International Driver Licenses, Bank Licenses, Federal Firearm Licenses, Pilot and Airline Licenses, plus a number of others which cannot be listed here.

However, the course of study required to obtain an international driver’s license for example must, by the very nature of the licensed permissions, be more encompassing than a state issued license for local use; and the holder of such a license is likewise obligated to adhere to the driving laws, customs and restrictions of the various cities and localities in which s/he operates a vehicle. This obligation therefore is spread over multiple countries, each of which expects as much from the licensee in the form of obeying their laws, as they grant with the issuance of a license to drive.

The same reasoning can be applied to a real estate school that is licensed to offer and teach real estate licensing courses of study and issue certifications of course completion in every state throughout the country, from Alabama to Wyoming, thereby obligating that school to the adherence of real estate licensing laws set forth by each state’s licensing agency. So while this nationwide school has managed to spread or duplicate itself in all fifty states, it can hardly claim undivided loyalty and attention to one.

On the other hand, the genuine West Virginia real estate school designation can only be bestowed upon a genuine West Virginia real estate school. West Virginians might just be more comfortable in knowing that their real estate school instructor understands country living and the West Virginia way of life, and has an established record over an extended period of teaching experience in West Virginia real estate licensing courses. They might like to know that s/he has an innate knowledge of the subject matter and is eager to impart that knowledge to West Virginia real estate license applicants, as well as currently licensed brokers and salespersons via the continuing education courses as required by state law.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school that offers a complete line of approved seven-hour courses in class, as well as live online real estate classes, and is Arello approved for a 90 Hour Pre Sales License Course certainly employs techniques and methods consistent with the most effective and results oriented practices in the industry; and making available the latest technology, tools and resources necessary to insure successful completion of the required real estate licensing courses will certainly benefit West Virginia real estate license applicants.

But most importantly, WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees and those who aspire to be WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees can be comforted in knowing that – all other things being equal – classes offered by the genuine West Virginia Real Estate School are all approved by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission; they are competitively priced and they meet such high standards as the state of WV requires for delivery of education in real estate licensing. So be assured that not every real estate school that sets up shop in WV can be considered a “genuine WV” school.

A real estate broker anywhere, is entrusted with an enormous undertaking and bears the responsibility of handling the sale, management or lease of the single biggest asset most people will ever possess; the property they own. It is for this reason that the real estate broker must acknowledge and accept the fiduciary role and the principle on which it is based: The interest of your client must in all circumstances be placed ahead of your own. Thus the most important reason for well taught real estate licensing and continuing education classes designed to equip real estate licensing students and already licensed professionals with the education they will need in order to adequately meet the challenges which are inherent in protecting their clients interests.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school obviously plays an instrumental role in helping real estate license applicants prepare to meet such a challenge and, as such, might offer more extensive courses of study sufficient to complete such preparation. Such courses of study might include:

Real Estate Agency, Real Estate Brokerage, Listing Agreements, Dual Agency, Real Property and the Law, Transfer of Title, Title Records, Real Estate Financing Principles & Practice, Leases, Property Management, Fair Housing and Ethical Practices, Environmental Issues and Real Estate Transactions, Closing the Real Estate Transaction, Real Estate Math, plus a number of other subjects. There is much to cover in your role as a real estate broker, because there is a lot in the way of client’s interests to protect. Getting the requisite knowledge is your first step toward what promises to be a fulfilling and rewarding career.

For Sale By Owner. A Licensed Real Estate Agent Might Be Better?

The “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) Challenge: Practical Advice for Agents
I. What is a FSBO?

For Sale by Owner sign
A For Sale By Owner can have negatives a seller might not think of.

A for-sale-by-owner transaction happens when a seller offers his or her property for sale without the assistance of a licensed real estate agent or broker. Usually this is because the seller wants to avoid paying a commission on the sale, but it also means that he or she has to assume all responsibility for completing the transaction without seeking the services of a professional with a real estate license.

II. Understanding the pros and cons

The Pros: Because a licensed agent is not involved in the marketing and selling of the property, sellers reap the financial benefit of retaining the percentage of the sale that would have otherwise been paid to a brokerage. In addition, many sellers enjoy the freedom of handling and marketing the transaction themselves, without the need for interviewing and choosing a licensed agent and brokerage with whom they can feel secure.

The Cons: Without a licensed agent, sellers must become real estate savvy. Pricing a home appropriately requires research and market analysis. An overpriced home can take months longer to sell than expected. An underpriced home devalues neighboring homes and, of course, leaves the seller financially short. And there are several reasons why agents are required to get a real estate license, including understanding the legal and financial risks, and how to best protect the seller through contract negotiation. This alone could be worth hiring a licensed professional.

In addition, agents are businesspeople who thrive on clientele – which means they have close relationships with potential buyers and know their desires in the real estate market. This advantage, along with custom advertising and marketing, can create the exposure needed to sell quickly and for the right price.

III. Approaching a FSBO seller:

For a new agent who has recently received his or her real estate license, FSBOs may seem like the ideal place to start drumming up business. However, be cautious in your approach. Typically, newly licensed agents are so eager to convince sellers to list that they unwittingly wind up using scare tactics: flashing intimidating documents, focusing on financial risks, and warning of the dangers of letting strangers into their home. It’s important to remember that while you may truly be more clever and knowledgeable, it isn’t professional to make a seller feel less so – your job is to empower, not intimidate. Granted, holding a real estate license does make you the expert, but being a straight shooter will garner more trust. FSBO sellers are smart, and they know why you came knocking on their door. They’ll see through intimidation attempts, and you don’t want to be “just another salesperson” in their eyes.

IV. How to be a professional

1. Be straight. Give an honest evaluation of the seller’s FSBO situation, be genuine in your offer to help, and provide authentic resources. Don’t just tell them what you think they need to hear.
2. Be eager, but not overeager. Don’t overwhelm FSBO owners in your effort to convert them. Persuade, don’t coerce.
3. Be flexible. A professional understands when the old adage “always be closing” isn’t appropriate. Sometimes it’s necessary (and professional) to take no for an answer.

Taking the WV Real Estate Exam

Okay, I’ll be honest. A week ago today, I was standing over my sink with a pint of ice cream and a spoon, prattling on to my best friend about how there was no way I could be a real estate agent. I mean, all the best salespeople are smart and witty and charismatic and funny, and I’m rarely any of the above. (Unless I’m forgetting my keys on the cafeteria conveyer belt again and chasing down the kitchen attendants to explain why I need to rifle through people’s leftovers. Then I’m really funny).

But I do have a point, and this is it: the most important thing I discovered during my experience with Spruce School’s West Virginia online real estate class is that there’s nothing more empowering than being armed with the skill and knowledge that turns doubt into experience – which is why I felt compelled to write this article. Because despite my chronic forgetfulness and occasional episodes of self-deprecation, I am, indeed, a newly minted West Virginia real estate salesperson. And I’m off to a great start with a supportive broker and an encouraging team of coworkers.

So, backstory aside, whether you are considering taking online real estate classes or in-class sessions, I feel the most helpful thing I can address first is the one thing all students are most curious about: the West Virginia real estate exam. Held in Charleston every month, the exam covers four areas of real estate: Principles and Practices, Law, Appraisal, and Finance. You’ll have three hours to take the exam, which is 200 questions long.

But fear not – both online and in-class students will have taken all four sections during the preliminary final exam required to complete the course, and everyone has the opportunity to take Wade Caskey’s one-day review covering all four topics (optional, but I give two enthusiastic thumbs up for this session. It was lively and entertaining, and most importantly, covered a whopping 675 review questions to challenge our knowledge). The review I attended lasted until about 4:00pm.

Now, on exam day, there are a few things you should know:

1. DO locate the restrooms right away. You and pretty much everyone else will probably feel like you are about to throw up at some point. It’s an exam. You’ll be nervous. It’s normal.

2. DO NOT forget your coffee at the hotel like I did. If it weren’t for all the one-way streets, I’d have turned around. (Hey, a girl’s gotta have priorities).

3. If your exam is held at the Civic Center, DO banter with the parking garage attendants. Those guys made my morning. And a good-natured chuckle can make a person feel a lot lighter.

Okay, now for the really important stuff:

  • You will be required to bring a $25.00 exam fee and a photo ID. The fee (cash or check) is collected during the exam, so it’s helpful to have everything ready as soon as you sit down.
  • You should bring a calculator and a few number two pencils. You can bring your study guides and personal items with you, as long as you keep them under the desk and out of sight during the exam.
  • Arrive early. My experience at the Charleston Civic Center was seamless – parking was plentiful in the adjacent garage, and the room location was easy to find. However, there was a large event taking place at the Civic Center at the same time, and the traffic began to back up shortly after I arrived at 8:30am. This may not be the case for you, but better safe than sorry.

I can honestly say of all the exam experiences I’ve ever had, this one was the most organized and least painful. Just study hard, pay attention to the correspondence you receive in the mail from the West Virginia Real Estate Commission (especially the one with your seating assignment – you’ll actually need to bring it with you), and try to get plenty of sleep. If you knew me, this is like the pot calling the kettle black, but I do know that every little bit helps. And rest assured, if you’ve made it this far you’ve already got what it takes. Good luck and go get ‘em. You’re going to do great.