Question Details

John Souerbry, Real Estate Pro in Fairfield, CA

Am I the last REALTOR(R) left in North America?

Asked by John Souerbry, Fairfield, CA Mon Jan 16, 2012

OK, I've been ranting on this for awhile, but once again a client asked me the difference between realtor and REALTOR(R). We looked it up in a dictionary - it said "a NAR member" (I paraphrase). It didn't say agent, broker, or anything else about real estate. You're either a NAR member or you're not a REALTOR(R). Referring to NAR's rules for use of their trademark, it must always be printed in all capitals with the circle R behind it. So why do NAR members continue to call themselves realtor or Realtor? The word does not exist.
Why do I rant about this? Because there is a growing percentage of non-NAR agents working in my market and they refer to themselves as realtors. I'm not trying to be NAR's trademark enforcer, but I would appreciate a little support from other NAR members to protect the exclusivity of the trademark. Do I really have to explain why?.
Yes, I was traveling on Festivus this year and unable to attend the annual airing of grievances. So here it is.

Help the community by answering this question:


"Gregorio - yes, NAR membership is no baptism that washes away all of an agent's sins. But if you could do us NAR members a favor, please don't refer to yourself as a realtor if you choose not to join."

John, if you ever see me referring to myself as a REALTOR®, please call 911 as it's a sign I have been kidnapped and am being held against my will!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
I am a REALTOR® and darn proud of it but like you am frustrated to see it used incorrectly. Because of this post if know know how to correctly add the (R) after the thank you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 18, 2012
Thanks, Mack! Admittedly I was a little slow in getting this and it took me a few tries. Your tip was helpful. you hold down the ALT button while typing 0174 from the number pad portion of the keyboard and once you lift your finger off the ALT key the ® appears!

Love it since ctrl alt r doesn't work on Trulia.

Thanks again!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012
Sally - Happy belated Festivus! I usually celebrate every year with all the trimmings - honey baked ham, Pepperidge Farm cake topped with M&M's - all the traditional stuff going back to the 1960's.

Debbie - I usually wait until Festivus to air my grievances, but yes it feels good to stand up for something every once in a while. As I like to say - political correctness (making everyone happy) cannot exist - because anyone spinless enough to trade in their beliefs just to get along with everyone just ***** me off. I remain the fly in the political correctness ointment.

Don - great job, as usual, with an explanation of the REALTOR(R) trademark. My statement about being the last one in North America was not about being a broker and REALTOR(R), which I am, it was about being a NAR member acting in compliance with a trademark that has been designed and defended to give We The Members an advantage in the marketplace.

Brenda - we're lucky here in California, broker is basically just a license, though we do have some more specific terms such as "broker of record" for someone managing a business. Anyone with a broker license is usually ok to call themselves a broker. I do know a lady in the Bay Area who owns a bunch of offices and requires her brokers to refer to themselves in all communications as "broker-associates." But that's in their office contract, it's not a government thing.

Mack - great point, those who are not NAR members are not by any definition inferior to RE professionals who are NAR members. RE training and ethical behavior is, indeed, open to all. The Cod of Ethics is what distinguishes a licensee from a REALTOR(R), which is my ***** ***** point.

Joan - good point. Although almost every office in my area requires NAR membership, membership for those who choose not to work in those shops is optional.

Gregorio - yes, NAR membership is no baptism that washes away all of an agent's sins. But if you could do us NAR members a favor, please don't refer to yourself as a realtor if you choose not to join.

Akil - Festivus is definately for the rest of us. My pole is in the garage, ready for later this year.

Thanks all for your responses, I appreciate the input.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
Oh John, that is one of my favorite sayings "Festivus for the rest of us" .

I am REALTOR as well and our Board requires membership to NAR to hopefully keep the standards high.

I learned something new from Mr. McCoy thanks
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
I am a Realtor®. For Windows users, you hold down the ALT key while typing 0174 on your keypad.

The rest of you, I don't doubt that you're fine, honest, and ethical agents - and it wouldn't hurt if you acknowledged that you at least subscribed to the Realtor® Code of Ethics, even if you, yourself, are not a Realtor®.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
Good point....I am a REALTOR (R) and proud of it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 18, 2012
I have had NAR contact me to discuss some of my advertising, which I responded to promptly and made all of their requested changes immediately. They never asked me to include a (R) after Realtor. I doubt this is their main concern, they are more concerned about people calling themselves Realtors who are not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012
Most people use it incorrectly because agents that are REALTORS® use it incorrectly. I'm not a NAR member and I use it correctly and am constantly telling my clients that call me a REALTOR® that I'm not one. Not all non-members are tarnishing the brand.

On a side note, it is "alt then R" on the Mac to get the symbol.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
Frankly, I think the entire thing is silly and exactly why I am not a REALTOR®
NAR has brainwashed the public into believing that working with a REALTOR® over someone who didn't drink the Kool-Aid™ will be the worst move they ever make in their lives, when that simply is not true. I have had the displeasure of working with some real scumbags when it comes to agents and my tally has it split about 50/50 with no real benefit from the distinction.

Just my opinion.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
Hi John, I'm still here after 23 years so no you are not the last REALTOR left in North America. Proud to be one & there are power in numbers so I hope the non members eventually join NAR if they would like the priviledge of calling themselves a Realtor too.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
You get 'em, John. I also am a Realtor (R) and a Broker. The word "broker" is also misused a lot, which also gets me going.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
NAR is actually even more picky than that. Here's an excerpt from NAR's "Letter of the Law" at
REALTOR® - A registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a Member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

Moreover, the MARKS are registered as "membership" marks and must be promoted as such if the registrations are to be preserved.

Compliance with this context of use limitation is simply determined in the case of written or visible use of the MARKS by substituting the word "member" for the term "REALTOR®." If the meaning or intended message is unchanged and not compromised by such substitutions, the term REALTOR® is appropriately used. If not, the term REALTOR® should be replaced by another phrase such as "real estate broker," "real estate agent," "appraiser," "property manager," or other words, as may be appropriate.
. . . .
For example, when asked what he does for a living, an unthinking Member may answer incorrectly:

"I am a REALTOR®"

Obviously, the speaker does not mean that he makes his living as a "member". Unfortunately, the response makes sense only if the listener assigns to the term REALTOR® the meaning "real estate agent." Thus, by the answer given, the Member has incorrectly used the term REALTOR® and, in the process, may have contributed to a misunderstanding of its meaning. The same is true for statements such as: "John Doe is a licensed REALTOR®", and uses of other modifiers with the MARKS.

A response that is sure to clarify the registered status and special meaning of the term REALTOR® is following:

"I am a real estate broker and a REALTOR®."

If asked to clarify the distinction, the Member can provide an explanation of the fact and nature of membership, including the binding commitment of the Member to the Code of Ethics.
So, John, according to NAR, it appears that simply asking "Am I the last REALTOR® left in North America?" is insufficient and lacks the clarity that NAR requires.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
well, to answer the question you posted in the BOLD font

No, you're not the last REALTOR(R) left in North Amerca.............I'm still here


it feels good to vent once in a while, doesn't it?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
I hear you John! I'm a REALTOR (R) and proud of it. Here's my two cents....As far as I know, there is only ONE realtor, Realtor, or REALTOR (doesn't matter how you use capital letters). All others are "real estate agents" and not necessarily a Realtor. P.S. Happy belated Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us! :-)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
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