Real Estate Agents, are you a Realtor? Either way, why?

9 Replies

I've passed my state license exam and am just waiting on the FL DBPR to process my license to make it available to hang my license (Likely by Monday). I've already decided to join eXp for quite a few reasons specific to my situation, but this question doesn't regard brokerage choice. I plan to join the local, state, and national association of Realtors as soon as I've hung my license. I feel the approx $1000/annual cost is well worth it for the representation at a state legislation level, advertising, and use/credibility of the word "Realtor". My liability insurance on my service business costs me more and is basically useless beyond peace of mind since I've never made a claim, I'm sure I'd get more benefit from NAR even if not significant. However, I've noticed quite a few real estate agents that are active on BP, have quite a lot of experience, and don't seem to be hurting for $1000 annually still don't use the term Realtor, which I assume to mean they aren't members of NAR. Are there any negatives, other than cost, to joining NAR and local associations? I figured it was an obvious step, but seeing agents without the designation makes me wonder if I should look into it further before blindly joining. Thoughts?

I definitely recommend it, although it has its drawbacks too.


  • Massive amounts of exposure to real estate.  It is now your job to become good at marketing yourself, learning a market, figuring out comps, and learning how to talk real estate
  • Constant exposure to people interested in buying/selling real estate.  It's one of the few professions where you'll get in front every type of person you can imagine.  From doctors and lawyers, to hair dressers and stay at home Dads.  It's such an incredible profession for expanding your network
  • You can use the MLS and other powerful tools for analyzing markets and seeing whats available.
  • You can show yourself any house, without having to waste someone elses time
  • You can list your own properties and save 3-6%, and you can buy your own properties and save 2-4%.  
  • Good way to make large amounts of cash for investments


  • You're considered a Real Estate Professional and must abide by the rules set forth by your states commission.  I personally have to disclose to everyone I talk with that I'm a licensed agent.  
  • Other agents don't take kindly to your direct mail campaigns occasionally landing on the doorstep of their active listings. I make sure to clearly state in the letter that I'm a licensed agent, but I'm reaching out as a cash buyer, not an agent looking to scalp listings. 
  • Continuing education requirements and yearly fees.
  • You always run the risk of being sued, even if you didn't do anything against the rules or immoral.  There is a lot of money being passed around in Real Estate, so you need to make sure you're protected with insurance and following the proper protocol at all times.  NEVER offer legal or financial advise.  

I'm both an agent and an investor.  I like being an investor more, but being an agent gives me the cash to help buy more rentals.  I'll eventually give up being an agent, but it's the main reason I've been able to grow so quickly.   It's hard work, but you learn a ton and it can be really fun during the peak season when you're juggling 10-20 deals at the same time, trying to keep them all on track.

Good luck!

@Michael Ablan thank you for the insight! I definitely plan to dive in fully to networking and building my real estate agent business as a business. I currently run a service business i started 11 years ago and plan to transition from it to commission RE sales to replace the income and go full time in RE well before rental cash flow could support it and so that the investment properties I acquire over the years aren't being cannibalized by needing to use the cash flow for monthly living expenses. So I'm on board with all you've said, but my question is more so to the difference between a NAR member who is allowed to call themself a "Realtor" vs a "Real Estate Sales Associate". $1000/year is not much and I believe as an agent the ethical standards and disclosure guidelines apply regardless of NAR status. I know of many benefits of being a "Realtor" as a member of NAR, but wondering if membership holds anyone back in some way, pushes political motivations, or other negatives I'm unaware of.

I think the majority on here are Realtors.  We simpy just dont add it to our profiles as there is no place that makes much sense to do so.

I dont know any brokerage in my area that does not require being a member of our local board, so in order to do business here it is a must.

On top of my dues, I also donate money to my Realtor board, and Im actively engaged with it. We perform a great number of services for our members, the most important of which is our ability to pool funds and lobby. Many people may be aware of the new 20% pass through deduction. Well real estate agents can thank NAR for making sure agents were able to get this deduction while other professions were excluded.

@Russell Brazil , ah, that makes sense! It is more a format of the profiles shown as opposed to not being a member. I had planned to join and then started noticing only a few had "Realtor" listed. I have read quite a lot on all of the positives NAR has accomplished, but all of a sudden realized maybe I need to be sure there aren't negatives. Thank you for chiming in. I'll likely look into taking an active role in the association wherever possible as well.

@Russell Holmes   Haha wow, I think I completely misunderstood the question poised in this post.  Sorry about that.

I don't really have much to say about this. I clearly need to research NAR and the other options available to real estate professionals other than being a "Realtor".

@Michael Ablan haha no worries, your post had valuable insight into the industry I'm about to jump into anyways, who cares that it didn't answer the specific question I posted, I'll take insight from agents any way it comes! :)

I’m in Texas and my annual membership fee is including local association, state association TAR and National association NAR, no other options around it.

Many people join because they have no choice. Most brokerages require you join because that's how the rules are set up. With most boards, if the broker is a member of a board, all licensees who hang their licenses with them must be members also or the broker is charged a fee. In many geographies a local or state board require board membership for MLS membership.

When I needed to be a member, I joined, though I always withheld contributions to RPAC. Now that I'm out on my own and don't need to be a member to do what I'm doing, I'm not a Realtor. Personally, I don't support the organization for the same reasons I don't support closed-shop unions.

Most in the public don't know the difference between a salesperson, broker, agent or Realtor and the titles are used interchangeably.

@Russell Brazil @Jason Vo I received my license from the state today by PDF and applied with eXp already. I'll be connected with the broker and "onboarding team" to begin paperwork etc. However, I read through all of the preliminary information given and they too require membership in local, state, and national associations as well. And here in FL it is also just the one annual dues fee for them all and then another annual fee for the mid Florida MLS. So I guess my question was moot point, but thanks for the info regardless!

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