Eighty percent of consumers either don’t know or are unsure about the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent, suggesting that industry efforts to promote the advantages of working with a Realtor “may have been significantly less effective than hoped,” the Houston Association of Realtors said today in releasing the results of a survey of more than 6,600 homebuyers, sellers, owners and renters.

Only agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors may call themselves Realtors.

The survey found consumers often had their own ideas about the difference between Realtors and real estate agents, including:

  • “The Realtor is the boss, and the agent works for the Realtor.”
  • “Generally the Realtor is more educated and experienced.”
  • “One is a broker and one is not.”
  • “The Realtor owns the business.”
  • “Generally a Realtor is more professional, though there are exceptions on both sides of the coin.”

Of the 59 percent of consumers working with a real estate professional, fewer than 1 in 3 knew whether they were working with a Realtor.

When consumers who are not currently working with an agent were asked if they had a preference to work with a licensed real estate agent or a Realtor, only 12 percent chose a Realtor.

The survey found that 94 percent of consumers believe real estate agents are professional and competent,  and 88 percent were satisfied with their agent.

“While consumers have a low awareness of the difference between an agent and a Realtor, survey respondents tell us that they are satisfied with their agent and consider them highly professional and competent,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank of Prudential Anderson Properties in a statement.

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