2017 Flag Ceremony

What does the “R” Mean Overseas?

2017 Flag CeremonyFrancisco Angulo, 2016 Global Business & Alliances Chair & Tom Salomone, 2016 NAR President, along with representatives from NAR’s partnering countries during the flag ceremony at the 2016 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida. 

You guessed it…REALTOR®! Although the term dates back to 1916 when it was first used at NAR’s annual convention in New Orleans, it has since grown to be an internationally recognized brand. In markets around the world, the REALTOR® “R” represents professionalism and a strict code of ethics set forth by NAR. For this reason, REALTORS® are held in high regard by both consumers and professionals within the real estate industry.

Believe it or not, the REALTOR® brand is so coveted that it’s been copied and used illegally overseas, because agents (not just REALTORS®) are eager to align themselves with such a powerful identity. Such uses are of course not permitted by NAR, and are eliminated once identified. The brand is so popular that a basketball team in the Philippines went by the Realtors from 1987-2010. Of course these Realtors were slam dunking basketballs, not home sales.

“Real” REALTORS® outside the United States are either members of NAR, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), or are International REALTOR® Members. Canadian boards were part of NAR from its founding in 1908 until 1943, when the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) was established. The international affiliate program was officially established by NAR in 1960, with the Philippine Association of Real Estate Board as the first affiliate.

2Philippines1960AgreementHeadlinesSigning of affiliation agreement between the National Association of Real Estate Boards and the Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards. From REALTOR® Headlines, December 5, 1960. (Photo thanks to the National Association of REALTORS® Library)

Philippines1959NewMembersNew members of the Pasay Board of REALTORS®, located in the Philippines, taking their oath, December 19, 1959. (Photo thanks to the National Association of REALTORS® Library)

Since then the term REALTOR® along with the “R” have both come a long way, with nearly 5,000 REALTORS® currently outside the U.S. These members all belong to one of our 93 partnering associations in 71 countries. All of these members pay dues to their respective association and follow a code of ethics similar to NAR’s.

NAR has worked hard to differentiate REALTORS® from real estate agents, and continues to do so. It’s our commitment as staff to continue to further the brand all over the world, and watch out for those imitators. –Just like Marvin Gaye said, “there’s nothing like the real thing, baby.” However, we know this is a good problem to have, and shows how the REALTOR® brand has grown since its humble beginning in 1916 – when there were only approximately 6,200 members. The REALTOR® brand now boasts over 1 million members in over 70 countries, proving it’s good to be a REALTOR® no matter where you are.

Charlee Gibson

Charlee Gibson is a Marketing Coordinator for the National Association of REALTORS® Commercial & Global Services division. She can be reached at cgibson@realtors.org.

More Posts - Facebook

ADD YOUR COMMENT