Ask Will: What is a Realtor, Anyway?

Ask Will banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: Is there a difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent?

A: Good question. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference. While, both a real estate agent and a Realtor® are licensed, a real estate agent is not held to the same level of ethics and standard of practice as a Realtor®. This is primarily because to be called a Realtor®, a real estate professional must be a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and agree to uphold the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Of course, both agents and Realtors® are required to operate within the law. However, the NAR Code takes things a step further, for example, by requiring a Realtor® “to protect and promote the interests of their client” and “treat all parties honestly,” among many other articles that real estate professionals are not necessarily bound to under the law. You can find more detail in this great resource by NAR.

How does this apply to buyers and sellers? Well, it means that there isn’t necessarily anything binding a non-Realtor® to offer you the same level of representation. Additionally, the NAR and a state-based chapter strictly enforce the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

In Virginia, in most cases a Realtor® is a member of not only the NAR, but also the Virginia Association of Realtors® and a local association of Realtors®, for example the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®. With all these checks and balances created by NAR over 100 years for Realtors®, it’s probably a good idea to look for “Realtor®” when you’re searching for representation. And, while you’re at it, you might also want to throw in a question about the Code to test their knowledge, such as:

Q: What does the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice say about representing both a buyer and a seller in a transaction?

A (for your back pocket): Realtors® shall not accept compensation from more than one party without disclosing to all parties and securing the informed consent of the Realtor®’s client(s).

I’m hoping some readers can share any additional advice they have in comments.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Recent Stories

A Clarendon-based pilot has launched Aviate, a health-foods company that sells flour, flakes and dry mixes made with the lupini, a protein-packed, high-fiber and zero-sugar legume.

An affordable housing complex along Route 50 in the Buckingham neighborhood will officially open tomorrow. The grand opening of The Cadence (4333 Arlington Blvd) on Tuesday, Dec. 6 caps off…

The Ballston Silver Diner is finally opening this month, which means the Clarendon location is closing after 26 years. The new Silver Diner at N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd,…

Two people were rescued from a precarious situation in Glencarlyn Park on Friday. The driver of an SUV reportedly mistook the gas for the brake in the parking lot of…

Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns

Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Join us December 10 & 11 for our Annual Handmade Holiday Workshop Series. We have a myriad of fun and festive programs from linoleum block wrapping paper printing and buttonhole book making workshops led by Eliza Clifford to a meditative grid workshop and Calligraphy Card Making with Anjelika Deogirikar. Join these wonderful artists and get creative this holiday season!

Submit your own Announcement here.

Light Up Arlington – Clarendon Menorah Lighting

Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!

Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration

Experience the festival of lights!!

*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah

Read More

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist


Subscribe to our mailing list