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By Margie Harper
What is a Realtor?
Realtors are licensed real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors(NAR), The Voice for Real Estate, the Kentucky State Association of Realtors(KAR), and locally, the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors(HKAR). Realtors are the most trusted source for real estate information.
The term Realtor is not a generic term; it is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a licensed real estate professional who is a member of NAR. The term Realtor is NOT synonymous with “real estate agent.” In simple terms, “all licensed real estate agents are not Realtors." To be a Realtor a licensee is a member of NAR, a state association such as KAR and a local association such as HKAR. There are more than 1,400 local associations and boards and 54 state and territory associations of Realtors. Local members join NAR through the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors.
There are approximately 3.2 million licensed real estate professionals in the United States, and 2.5 million of them are considered “active licensees,” but only 1.2 million are members of NAR. In Kentucky there are approximately 11,100 Realtors. There are more than 400 Realtors in the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors. Realtors work in both residential and commercial real estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.
Realtors subscribe to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which aims to protect consumers in the real estate transaction. The code stipulates that Realtors be honest with all parties involved in a transaction, whether buyer, seller or cooperating agent. The code requires Realtors to identify and take steps to eliminate practices that may damage the public or which might discredit or dishonor the real estate profession. Realtors must take a refresher training course on the Code of Ethics every four-year cycle. Real estate licensees who join NAR are required to take orientation classes on the code.
The role of Realtors in our communities goes far beyond the real estate transaction process of buying and selling. As local business owners and residents, Realtors are vested in building healthy and vibrant communities across the country, neighborhood by neighborhood. As the leading advocates for housing issues, Realtors across the country participate in NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, which provides tools and resources for promoting affordable housing at local, state and national levels.
Realtors handle hundreds, if not thousands, of real estate transactions over the course of their careers, and can counsel and guide sellers through the process. Realtors have the expertise and experience to help sellers protect their investment and help buyers build theirs. Realtors have access to educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties that are not available to other licensees. In these courses, Realtors learn to develop skills in guiding clients and customers through the complex real estate transaction process. NAR offers advanced educational opportunities to its members that allow Realtors to offer a more diverse array of services.
Realtors care not only about helping people become homeowners, but also making sure families can keep their homes. They are actively engaged in buyer financing education and in pushing legislation that protects consumers in the real estate transaction.
Realtors are the leading advocate for private property rights, homeownership and housing issues. Every year, NAR leads the way on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of Washington to keep homeownership a top national priority. NAR’s support for the mortgage interest deduction and other federal policies helps keep housing more affordable and makes housing a great investment. Sound housing policies empower home seekers to purchase a home of their own and choosing a Realtor should be one of the first steps.
Margie Harper is executive vice president of the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors.