The Meaning behind the Capital R


There's no such thing as the boogie man, unicorns or realtors.  


Yes, you read that right. There is no such thing as a realtor. However, REALTORS® do exist. REALTOR® is a trademarked term, much like Kleenex and Coke. While it has become common practice to call any tissue or soda by those names, there are certainly differences. That also holds true with real estate licensees.  


I’ve had several readers reach out to me asking about the differences between an agent and a REALTOR®. It is important to know not everyone who holds a real estate license is a REALTOR®. The word REALTOR® refers to an individual who not only holds a real estate license but is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). NAR is a professional trade organization in which agents have to hold membership in order to be called a REALTOR®. 


Being a member of NAR is more than just applying for membership. Membership means the agent adheres to the trade association’s strict Code of Ethics. Abiding by the Code of Ethics is a win not only between REALTORS®, but also for our clients. 


The code requires REALTORS® to be honest with all involved parties of a transaction. It means the agent puts the best interests of their clients before their own. It mandates full disclosure by the agent in regard to the property and the details of the transaction. It requires complete honesty from agents in all communications with the public.


As a member of NAR, an agent is also a member of their local and state REALTOR® association. This membership gives them access to outstanding education to improve and maximize their business. They have networking opportunities with other REALTORS® which aids in smoother transaction dealings and knowledge of properties both currently on and coming soon to the market.  


REALTOR® organization membership also connects members with legislative and community involvement. In terms of legislative advocacy, REALTORS® take action in the protection and promotion of home ownership and private property rights. In the community, they make connections with schools, charities and housing programs which enable them to better know their market and serve their clients.  


Brands like Kleenex and Coke have become common terms because they excel in their industries. This is also true for REALTOR®.  The next time you have the opportunity to buy, sell or lease a property, remember why it’s important to choose a REALTOR®.  


Sher Powers is president of Greater Nashville REALTORS®. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors who subscribes to its strict code of ethics. Contact her at 615-430-6861 or