The difference between a professional REALTOR® and a real estate agent

Most Canadians understand that when it comes to buying or selling a home, it’s much easier to have an expert by their side. But how do you choose who to work with? What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a REALTOR®?

“Being a REALTOR® is more than a job title — it’s a privilege,” says Rob Reynar, Director of Industry  Development at the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

“It signifies membership with CREA through a local real estate board or provincial association and represents a standard of practice based on the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Once you get a real estate license, you must adhere to standards set by regulators in various parts of the country. But the REALTOR® Code goes above and beyond that standard: it reaches into things like knowledge base, service levels, and ethical conduct.”

REALTOR® is a trademarked term identifying the real estate brokerage and related professional services provided by members of CREA. If an agent isn’t a member of CREA, they can’t use the term REALTOR®. When you see that designation, you should feel confident in your choice of real estate professional.

The advantages of working with a REALTOR®

So what are all the advantages of working with a REALTOR® as opposed to a real estate agent?

1. Education

REALTORS® are knowledgeable about housing trends, current market conditions, and developments in the real estate industry. They commit to continually updating their professional education through training workshops and courses, adds Reynar, noting REALTORS® have access to services, networks, a knowledge base, and advocacy that non-members do not, including legal and compliance materials on federal legislation related to real estate, for example Anti-Money Laundering (FINTRAC), Privacy (PIPEDA), Anti-Spam (CASL), Competition, etc. and other compliance material specific to CREA members such as the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Trademarks. 

REALTORS® can also achieve special designations based on experience, specialties, and professionalism. There are dozens of designations available, allowing you to find a REALTOR® to best match your needs, including:

• Certified Negotiation Expert® (CNE®)

• Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®)

• Certified Condominium Specialist®

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® (CLHMS®)

2. Resources

There are also resources available to REALTORS® to help with the physical sale and purchase of your home, which can lead to a much smoother experience. For example, real estate agents who are not REALTORS® don’t have access to resources such as local real estate board MLS® Systems, which are co-operative selling systems that contain detailed information, specialized search tools, and analytics about cities, neighbourhoods, and streets — all designed to match buyers with the properties they’re looking for. REALTORS® also have access to:

• The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), the most advanced and accurate tool to gauge a neighbourhood’s home price levels and trends;

• CREA WEBForms®, an end-to-end document management system for streamlined processing and simplifying real estate transactions;

• The Data Distribution Facility® (DDF®), which allows REALTORS® and broker owners to share listings on multiple third-party sites and expand the reach of their listings — so you have a higher chance of being seen; and

• Listing Statistics, to better understand how the market is responding to their listing and make any necessary adjustments.

The REALTOR® Association Community

REALTORS®, are part of a massive professional network — CREA is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations.

“Our membership includes more than 160,000 real estate brokers and agents right across the country,” Reynar says. “Our collective voice has a huge impact when we’re advocating for governments to enact policies that support housing and homeownership.”

How can a REALTOR® help you?

Your REALTOR® is with you at every step of the home buying or selling journey, helping you with one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make. 

“It’s about working with you through the complicated process of buying and selling,” explains Reynar. “They’re able to advocate on your behalf during negotiations. REALTORS® also have access to a network of industry professionals like home inspectors, contractors, lawyers and financing specialists.”

While most of us spend time online researching potential properties or trying to figure out pricing, Reynar notes it’s best not to go at it alone.

“It’s critical that consumers align themselves with a REALTOR® to help guide them through that buying or selling process and help them make informed decisions.”

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, visit to use the Find a REALTOR® feature to help you pick the right professional REALTOR® for your needs.