The National Association of Realtors owns the registered trademark “Realtor”.

What, you thought Realtor and real estate agent meant the same thing?


Anyone licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is called a real estate agent (actually, a real estate salesperson).

If a real estate agent chooses to join the National Association of Realtors, he or she can call himself / herself a “Realtor”. It’s a trade, professional, or social organization similar to the Better Business Bureau, the National Organization of Women, and NAMBLA.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) spends countless hours and boatloads of money (including my most of my membership fees, most likely) protecting its trademark.

Recently, a real estate agent in Texas was ordered to “cease-and-desist” from using “Realtor” as part of his website’s name.

Benn Rosales, a Realtor in Central Texas, has been weighing options for the blog site he launched in May since the National Association of Realtors notified him the Web site name is an improper use of the trademarked “Realtor” term.

Because, not only is NAR obsessed with protecting its name, it also requires its members to only use its trademark in certain ways.

So, for example, I couldn’t call my website “” unless my last name was “Boston”. I know, it sounds odd. I could call it “” if my real estate company was named “Boston Realtor, Inc.”, however.

In the past, several individuals and companies have found out, too late, that they can’t register names with “Realtor” in the title.

… Jacob Zimmerman, a former hotel management student at Cornell University … registered about 1,900 domain names containing the word “Realtor” and hoped to profit from the sale of the Web site addresses.

He sued, but “In April 2004, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board unanimously ruled in a 39-page opinion that the terms “Realtor” and “Realtors” are not generic terms.

So, basically, he wasted a lot of money.

Locally, one Boston agent naively purchased the website name. For, I think, around $10,000. Her last name was not “Boston”. Subsequently, she found out that she couldn’t use the website.

Unless she changed her last name to “Boston”.

Which she did.

Which she did.

And, subsequently, she left the business.

Left the business.

Actually, left the country (for a year, so far …).

More: NAR requests name change for RealtorGenius blog – By Glenn Roberts Jr., Inman News (subscription required)

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Updated:  1st Q 2018

Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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