In trying to select an agent to represent them, consumers consider experience, expertise and professionalism. Do all those titles and acronyms behind some agent’s names represent any of those qualities?
Maybe. Let’s take a look at the most common of them.
Realtor®: The most common qualifier you may see Realtor®. Many folks use the terms real estate agent and Realtor interchangeably, but not all agents are Realtors.
Real estate agents have passed a state exam and background check, and have been issued a license that allows them to receive a fee for representing buyers and/or sellers in real estate transactions.
Realtors are agents who also belong to the National Association of Realtors, their state’s Realtor association and their local Multiple Listing Service. The term Realtor is copyrighted, and N.A.R. members are required to adhere to the association’s Code of Ethics, as well as all state and local laws.
Broker: Some agents have undergone additional testing to become brokers. Brokers can work under their own licenses. Agents who are not brokers must be affiliated with a broker. Some brokers prefer to work for another broker, often because that broker is part of a large company with strong name recognition and additional resources. These broker agents are sometimes called “affiliated brokers.”
In addition, N.A.R. and affiliated groups offers a number of designations and certifications that agents can earn through additional training and, in some cases, proof of experience and productivity. Among the most common are:
Accredited Buyer's Representative: The ABR designation, presented by the Real Estate Buyers’ Agent Council, is designed for agents who focus on working directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the home buying process.
Accredited Land Consultant: The Realtors Land Institute grants the ALC designation to agents who have successfully completed a rigorous education program focused on the buying and selling of land for development and other purposes, and have reached specific levels of high-volume sales and experience, as well as adherence to the Code of Conduct.
Certified Commercial Investment Member: Agents who specialize in commercial real estate transactions can earn this certification by completing 200 hours of classroom study and meeting certain levels of experience. The CCIM network also includes brokers, leasing professionals, asset managers, appraisers, corporate real estate executives, investors, lenders and other allied professionals.
Certified International Property Specialist: To earn the CIPS designation, Realtors must complete five one-day courses focusing on crucial aspects of international transactions.
Certified Property Managers: CPM designees are experts in real estate management. So, for example, if you have rental property or vacation property, one of these agents is specially trained to manage that for you.
Certified Residential Specialist: The CRS designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers and brokers. Designees must successfully complete additional training and demonstrate a certain high level of sales volume. Fewer than 5 percent of Realtors hold the CRS designation.
Counselor of Real Estate: The Counselors of Real Estate is an international group of recognized professionals who provide advice on real property and land-related matters. Only 1,100 practitioners throughout the world carry the CRE designation. Membership is by invitation only.
GREEN: Through N.A.R.'s Green Designation, the Green REsource Council provides ongoing education, resources and tools to help real estate practitioners find, understand, and market properties with green features.
Graduate, Realtor Institute: Realtors with the GRI designation have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards and the sales process.
Seller Representative Specialist: The SRS designation is the premier credential in seller representation, awarded by the Real Estate Business Institute to agents who meet specific educational and practical experience criteria.
Seniors Real Estate Specialist: Agents who have earned the SRES designation have completed educational classes focused on serving the real estate needs of clients over age 50. Designees learn about special programs and services to help their clients continue to live in their current homes or transition to something more appropriate.
At Home With Diversity: The AHWD certification is given to agents who have completed training in sensitivity to all client profiles and building a business plan to successfully serve them.
Certified Real Estate Team Specialist: The C-RETS certification is designed to improve team development, individual leadership skills and financial performance. The courses provide the tools, strategies, and knowledge that are required of today’s real estate professionals who are either considering or currently operating in a team environment. It is for team leaders, team members, those looking to start a team, and those who simply want to sharpen their management skills.
e-PRO: N.A.R.'s e-PRO® certification program helps Realtors master the advanced digital marketing techniques of today. Through e-PRO training, agents increase their ability to reach customers, expand their capabilities, and build trust by safeguarding client information.
Military Relocation Professional: The MRP certification, presented by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, focuses on educating real estate professionals about working with current and former military service members to find housing solutions that best suit their needs and take full advantage of military benefits and support.
Real Estate Negotiation Expert: The RENE certification indicates the real estate professional has been trained in tips and tools to sharpen their negotiation skills and be successful advocates for their clients.
Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist: The RSPS certification indicates a Realtor who has received special training to facilitate the buying, selling, or management of properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in a resort, recreational and/or vacation destination.
Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource: Agents with the SFR certification are trained to work with distressed sellers and the finance, tax, and legal professionals who can help them, qualify sellers for short sales, develop a short sale package, negotiate with lenders, safeguard your commission, limit risk, and protect buyers.
In choosing a qualified local Realtor to work with, consider which, if any, of these designations and certifications are important to you.
Cher Wollard is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties in Livermore.