realtors, sorry, "Realtors"

I’ve noticed recently (well, in the past few years, I guess) that every time I see the word “realtor” used in the newspaper, it’s capitalized. Like, “Sal Mundi is a Realtor in Burfsville.” WTF is up with that? Is there some law that says you have to capitalize the word? How did rEaLtorS get to be on a par with heads of state, pontiffs, etc.?

Realtor is a trademark. Real estate agent is the generic term. Compare it to Xerox versus copy machine.

Oh, here’s the relevant wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Realtors#Trademark_status

It’s a private association or club like the Rotary, I believe…its a bit more than just “real estate agent”. So just like Rotarians, Realtors are capitalized.

The National Association of Realtors invented the word “realtor” and trademarked it, so only they can bestow that title upon a real-estate agent. (Anybody using it without their permission would be in violation of the trademark.) So they insist upon it always being capitalized, like a brand name. Which it is.

“I propose that the National Association adopt a professional title to be conferred upon its members which they shall use to distinguish them from outsiders. That this title be copyrighted and defended by the National Association against misuse… I therefore, propose that the National Association adopt and confer upon its members, dealers in realty, the title of realtor (accented on the first syllable).”

C.N. Chadbourn, National Real Estate Journal, March 1916.

Note that Chadbourn doesn’t capitalize the word himself, that must have come a little later. (Taken from OED where it is the first cite for the term.)

The term is not used in the UK, where real-estate agent is shortened to estate agent.

Fascinating… it doesn’t bother me to see something like “Rotarian” capitalized, because it seems self-evident that that refers to an organization. But somehow, “Realtor” just sounds to me like a generic term for an occupation, and that’s why it struck me as weird to see it capitalized.

That’s the point – they (the Natl. Assn. of Realtors) are trying to avoid the genericization of Realtor as a synonym for real estate agent. In theory, and generally in practice (though there are exceptions) a N.A.R. member is bound by a code of ethics, a duty of professional care to the client (presumably as opposed to a fly-by-night r.e.a. that is not a N.A.R. member). Not everyone holding himself out as a Realtor will live up to this, but the fact they’ve gone through the process of qualifying with a professional organization should be a sign that they’re intending to be on the up-and-up with you as a client.

Yes. Most people don’t realize it’s a trademark.

Yes, but clearly it didn’t work for me… :smack:

I capitalize it because my spell checker makes me.

If your spell checker tried to make you jump off a brudge, would you do it?

As long as it gets rid of the squiggly lines it’s a chance I’d have to take. Might not be too good for the budgie, though.

They’ve apparently relaxed the rule on stress–when I hear it spoken, it’s generally with an accent on the second syllable and a longish ‘o,’ as if to emphasize the spelling. On the other hand, I mostly hear it on my local NPR station, and they’ve got peculiar enunciation here and there–Subaru, for example, is pronounced with an almost excessive stress on the last syllable. suba-ROO.

If it was the fastest way down off the damn brudge, yes, I would.

From the 2003 Associated Press Stylebook: "Realtor The term real estate agent is preferred. Use Realtor only if there is a reason to indicate that the individual is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

According to some sources, at least, it’s even worse than you think: REALTOR

ETA: In the linked thread, the “REALTOR” discussion begins with post #3.

I usually hear people pronounce Realtor as something akin to “REE-ladur.”

(Of course, these are the same people that eat at “ChiPOLTay”.)

Thanks to the AP for not buying into this self-promoting nonsense.

There are umpteen professions requiring a great deal more training and continuing education than real estate agents to maintain professional status, and it’s difficult to think of any that demand Capitalization for the preferred Title.

I’m OK with Lipitor (at least, if they didn’t advertise so much) but the insistence on capitalizing realtor is silly. Even those folks who morphed from undertaker to mortician to funeral director in an attempt to look stylish and important didn’t go nuts over capitalizing themselves.

Jump off a brudge? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

For that matter, what the heck kind of spell checker allows “brudge”?

One that also allows “whush”.