January 20, 2019

Who you trust in real estate matters


While the terms Realtor® and real estate agent are used interchangeably, there is a big difference. Both words describe someone with a state license.  However, after some education, passing a state examination and background check, the difference widens. 

Karen Randolph
2019 NETAR President

To legally use the title Realtor®, the agent has to be a member of the National Association of Realtors®.  This membership involves a lot more than passing a test.  The word "Realtor®" is a trademark branded to deliver a specific message to consumers. Our commitment can be found in the preamble to NAR's Code of Ethics.

It reads: "Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. Realtors® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.

"Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which Realtors® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be diligent in preparing themselves.

"Realtors®, therefore, are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow Realtors® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor."

The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are the cornerstone of NAR's commitment to ensure consumer confidence. There is much more to it than just reading and agreeing with the articles.

Here at the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors®, all new Realtor® members are required to take the Code of Ethics as a portion of their New Member Orientation. As a national document, the Code contains lofty principles to ensure high standards of professional conduct to serve the interests of the buying and selling public. The class is also open to all Realtors® for continuing education credit. All Realtor® members are required to complete a refresher course every two years.

The Code of Ethics focuses on three categories


- Protect and promote your client's interests but be honest with all parties.

- Avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, and concealment of pertinent facts.  Do not reveal facts that are confidential under the scope of your agency relationship.

- Cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance client's best interests.

- When buying or selling, make your position in the transaction or interest known.

- Disclose present or contemplated interest in any property to all parties.

- Avoid side deals without client's informed consent.

- Accept compensation from only one party, except with full disclosure and informed consent.

- Keep the funds of clients and customers in escrow.

- Assure, whenever possible, that transactional details are in writing.


- Provide equal service to all clients and customers.

- Be knowledgeable and competent in the fields of practice in which you are ordinarily engaged.  Obtain assistance or disclose a lack of experience, if necessary.

- Present a true picture in your advertising and other public representations.

- Do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

- Be a willing participant in Code enforcement procedures.


- Ensure that your comments about other real estate professionals are truthful, and not misleading.

- Respect the agency relationship and other exclusive relationships recognized by law that other Realtors® have with their clients.

- Arbitrate contractual and specific non-contractual disputes with other Realtors® and with your clients.

This commitment is made by Realtors® to ensure their real estate dealings are at the highest professional level.  Before trusting your largest financial instrument to any real estate agent, be sure to check their affiliation with the National Association of Realtors®.