The Meaning Of Realtor® and MLS®

You’ll see the terms REALTOR® and MLS® system used frequently in this column, as well as out in the world of real estate advertising. The terms are now ubiquitous enough that most people have at least a basic idea of what they think those terms represent. But you might be surprised to know that both of them are registered trademarks owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and used under license by real estate boards and associations across Canada.
The term REALTOR® is not synonymous with “real estate agent” or “broker”. The trademark REALTOR® identifies only those real estate professionals who are members of the Canadian Real Estate Association and, as such, subscribe to a high standard of professional service and a strict Code of Ethics. Every member of a Real Estate Board is also a member of CREA, and therefore we are permitted to use the term REALTOR® to describe themselves as members of CREA. All REALTORS® across Canada, are governed by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which states that REALTORS® are committed to: 

– Professional competent service

– Absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings

– Co-operation with and fairness to all

– Personal accountability through compliance with CREA’s Standards of Business Practice

To meet their obligations, REALTORS® pledge to observe the spirit of the Code in all of their activities and conduct their business in accordance with the Standards of Business Practice and the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Now let’s talk about the term MLS®. It’s not a noun, or a thing, but an adjective that refers to a standard of service – the MLS® Services – that are provided by CREA members. Local real estate boards or associations license the term MLS® from CREA to use to describe their co-operative selling systems, referred to as MLS® systems. An MLS® system includes an inventory of listings of participating REALTORS® and ensures a certain level of accuracy of information, professionalism and co-operating amongst REALTORS® to effect the purchase and sale of real estate. The Board ensures that level of accuracy and professionalism by enforcing a set of Board-specific MLS® Rules and Regulations that apply to all members’ listings.

Only a real estate professional who is also a REALTOR® can list properties on his or her Board’s local MLS® system. When your home is listed on the MLS® system, all REALTORS® can view it, creating a much wider pool of potential buyers than a sign on your lawn would offer. If you’re looking for a new home, working with a REALTOR® gains you access to all the properties listed on the MLS® system. He or she can set up a custom search that e-mails you details of properties that meet your criteria. It’s a service that only a REALTOR® can offer you.

REALTORS® are proud of the professional real estate services they provide and the Code of Ethics they adhere to.

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