Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you’ll see a wide range of terms attached to professionals who can help with the transaction. As you work to understand the difference between a broker and an agent, you may also wonder what a Realtist does.

What is a Realtist?

A Realtist is a real estate professional who belongs to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). While plenty of Realtists are real estate brokers and agents, they also serve a wide range of other important functions in the housing industry – appraisers, lenders, housing counselors, developers and more.

What is the NAREB and why was it formed?

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers was founded in 1947. The local boards of the National Association of Realtors prohibited Black real estate professionals from becoming members – a policy that didn’t change until 1961. To combat the rampant discrimination that stood in the way of Black individuals who wanted to purchase property, the NAREB worked to help pass legislation that helped advance civil rights in the country including local fair housing laws in New York City in 1962, state fair housing laws in California in 1963 and the nationwide Fair Housing Act in 1968.

How housing discrimination has shaped the U.S.

Housing in the U.S. follows the country’s troubled path of racist policies. At the start of the 20th century, just 20 percent of adult Black males owned homes compared with 46 percent of White males, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Throughout the majority of the century, the government actively worked to suppress Black home ownership. The Federal Housing Administration – known for helping borrowers achieve the dream of owning a home today – used to refuse to insure mortgages for homes that were located in Black neighborhoods.

The country made positive strides in the decades following the passage of the Fair Housing Act with the rate of Black home ownership increasing 52 percent by 1990. However, those rates have moved backward. The Black home ownership rate now stands at 43 percent – nearly 30 points lower than the White home ownership rate, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. And even after buying a home, Lydia Pope, president of the NAREB, highlights that discrimination continues to impact the Black community. Pope points to a recent study conducted by Redfin that shows that homes in predominantly Black neighborhoods are valued at an average of $46,000 less compared with similar homes in White neighborhoods.

“The appraisal review process is deeply flawed,” Pope says. “When an appraisal is disputed, the burden is on the real estate agent or lender to provide data supporting a change in the valuation. But that rarely happens – less than 3 percent of appraisals are ever revised. NAREB wants a revamped appraisal review process. In addition, NAREB calls on the public and private sector to help increase the number of Black appraisers. There are 78,000 appraisers across the country but only 2 percent are Black.”

Realtists are working hard to fuel progress and help more Black Americans buy homes. “Our members are trained to work with all facets of buyers in all areas,” Pope says. “The NAREB Investment Division operates a HUD-approved housing counseling program that provides the kind of information that buyers – especially first-time buyers – find valuable. Further, we have been aggressively working with Capitol Hill lawmakers to get a national down payment program enacted. In fact, I testified at the House Financial Services Committee hearing in June to discuss the need for the program.”

What is the difference between a Realtor and a Realtist? Can you be both?

While a Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, a Realtist – also often spelled in all capital letters – is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the NAREB. However, Pope points out that individuals can be both. “Some of our members have the ‘Realtor” designation because they need to leverage MLS listings,” she says.

The key distinction between a Realtist and a Realtor is that a Realtist works to deliver NAREB’s mission of democracy in housing – specifically for the Black community. “NAREB is focused on our member Black brokers/realtors, consumers and communities,” Pope says. “There are other trade associations that focus specifically on Hispanic or Asian communities. We think it is important to tell our story from a Black perspective.”

How to work with a Realtist

If you’re looking to find a Realtist who can coach you through the homebuying or selling process, use the NAREB’s membership portal to sort through more than 18,000 Realtists who belong to local chapters across the country. Additionally, if you are hoping to find down payment assistance, the organization’s website offers a helpful tool to match you with programs based on your location, income and special circumstances.