In the United States, there are approximately 3 million individuals who hold active real estate licenses, with about 1.6 million of them being Realtors, according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials and the National Association of Realtors. In New Mexico, there are currently 11,100 individuals holding real estate licenses, with 7,611 of them being Realtors. But what exactly is the difference between a licensee and a Realtor?
The basics are simple. Anyone who holds a real estate license in New Mexico is considered a licensee and is subject to the New Mexico Real Estate License Law. However, those who choose to carry the Realtor designation also become members of local realty boards, the New Mexico Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors.
Realtors, in addition to abiding by state and federal laws, are also subject to the National Association of Realtors’ strict Code of Ethics. This code provides mechanisms for self-policing, handling consumer complaints, offering educational opportunities, and other services that benefit both Realtors and the general public. Not all licensees are Realtors, but all Realtors are licensees.
In New Mexico, license holders can have various titles and designations, such as qualifying broker, associate broker, licensee, designated agent, dual agent, responsible person, sub-agent, transaction broker, property manager, broker-in-charge, inactive broker, and facilitator. Notably absent from this list are salesperson and Realtor. These terms are all interchangeable and can be used to describe a licensed person sitting across the desk from you.
In the eyes of the law, there are two types of real estate brokers in New Mexico: qualifying brokers and associate brokers. A qualifying broker owns or runs a realty firm and is responsible for all the licensees working under their control. Associate brokers are the licensees who work under the qualifying broker’s authority. Both types of brokers can represent buyers and sellers as either transaction brokers or agents, depending on the situation and the desires of the parties involved.
The legal differences between transaction brokers and brokers acting as agents are significant. Transaction brokers treat buyers and sellers equally and fairly without being the agent of either party. On the other hand, agents owe fiduciary duties to their principal and negotiate on their behalf. Dual agents serve two masters, representing both the buyer and seller in a transaction.
Most buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants in New Mexico work with brokers or salespeople who act as transaction brokers. Regardless of status, all licensees are required by law to disclose in writing the minimum duties they provide, the types of brokerage relationships available, and the specific type of relationship, agent or transaction broker, that they are entering into with a client.
In summary, most people work with licensees who are Realtors and typically act as transaction brokers. It’s important to understand the different titles and designations within the real estate industry and the specific roles they play. Whether you refer to your representative as a broker, agent, Realtor, or something else, what matters is the relationship and the level of fiduciary duty they owe to you as a client or customer.
Source: Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (www.arello.org), National Association of Realtors (NAR), New Mexico Real Estate Commission (NMREC)