Real Estate Agent or REALTOR®: What’s the Difference?

real estate agent

If you are looking to buy or sell a home, one of your first steps is often to find an experienced real estate professional that can guide you through the process and help you achieve your goals.

Finding the right real estate professional can be tough and many people can easily become overwhelmed by the different titles and credentials that are used across the industry. Some of the most common titles you will see during a search include REALTOR®, broker, real estate agent and a salesperson or sales representative. The associates at Davids & DeLaat, a leading team of REALTORS® and real estate agents in the Niagara Region, have put together a quick reference guide to help you distinguish between the titles and choose the right fit for your real estate needs.

What Is A Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent, also known as a salesperson or sales representative, is a professional that helps to facilitate the process of buying and selling properties. To become a licensed real estate agent in Ontario you must complete a series of real estate courses and exams to obtain a license through the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). However, as a salesperson you must work under a licensed broker which means you are a representative of the brokerage. A broker is a real estate professional that has a minimum 2-year experience as an agent and has passed additional courses and exams for brokers. They can either own or manage a brokerage which is responsible for both the employed real estate agents and all the transactions that are done by their brokerage.

Licensed real estate agents have the option to work in residential, commercial or industrial real estate. Sometimes agents decide to focus on being either a listing agent who specializes in selling homes for clients, a buyer’s agent who specializes in finding homes for potential buyers or less frequently, a renter’s agent who helps to find rentable units for their clients. However, many real estate agents are able to help facilitate the process of both buying and selling a home. Real estate agents have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the client while maintaining fairness, integrity, and honesty for everyone else involved in the transaction.


A REALTOR® is a salesperson who has taken additional steps to become a certified member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Being a member of CREA signifies that these real estate agents are bound to a code of ethics that has been laid out by CREA’s REALTOR® Code and have been in place for over 100 years. In addition, a REALTOR® must take part in ongoing ethics training that keeps them up to date with issues such as real estate laws, best practices, real estate trends and more. REALTORS® are required to pay an annual fee in order to maintain their distinction.

The code of ethics that REALTORS® abide by aim towards providing professional and competent service, absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings, utmost civility and cooperation with and fairness to all (Source, CREA).

Should I Pick A Sales Representative, A Broker or A REALTOR®?

Although there are some unique differences that distinguish the roles of real estate agents, brokers, and REALTORS®, you can be confident that all real estate professionals are trained and have the knowledge to help you buy or sell your home. All real estate professionals are required to act in the best interest of the clients and are committed to providing honest and fair representation for all parties. The most important thing when choosing a real estate agent is to find someone that you can trust and someone that is dedicated to helping you reach your real estate goals. Here are some tips for finding the perfect real estate agent.

Looking to Buy or Sell a Home in Niagara Region? Contact Davids & DeLaat Today!

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in the Niagara Region? Davids & DeLaat is Niagara’s leading real estate team and we pride ourselves in delivering top notch service to our clients. If you are looking to buy a home, take a look at available houses for sale in Niagara Region. Alternatively, if you’re looking to sell your house in Niagara, contact us today for your free home evaluation.

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