The first step in becoming a Realtor in the United States is to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which is done by joining a real estate association or board. New NAR members are required to take a course online about the ethics code and then pass a test on the material. Current NAR members need to take a refresher course every four years. An important part of being an NAR member is to adhere to the association's strict standards of practice and code of ethics. The ethics code is updated every year in order to reflect changes in real estate law. However, the main thrust of this code is that all parties to a real estate transaction must be treated honestly [source: National Association of Realtors]. Realtors vow to never withhold information or mislead any participants in a real estate transaction.
In fact, this strict code of ethics is what distinguishes Realtors from real estate agents who are not members of the NAR. The NAR has a solid reputation behind it and many people decide to become members of the association in order to capitalize on this. Becoming an NAR member gives you access to consumers who would prefer to use a real estate agent who has taken an oath of honesty over one who hasn't.
The National Association of Realtors is essentially a trade organization and being a member of it provides you with a collective voice, which can be used in order to lobby for stronger legal protections. Another one of the benefits of group membership is that it will allow you to network and learn about the most effective practices for your specific community. Realtors can further hone their skills by taking educational courses and participating in annual conferences.