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Realtor® Designations and What They Mean To You

Monday, April 9, 2018   /   by Martin French

Realtor® Designations and What They Mean To You

If you're dabbling in the real estate market, no doubt you've noticed that some Realtors® have designatory letters after their name, implying that they have certifications in certain areas of real estate.  Unfortunately, the average Joe has no idea what these mean, just that it makes a real estate agent look ritzy.  Here we will explain this enigma to help you with choosing the agent that's right for you and your personal situation.  For more information on any of these Designations or organizations, click the links.  This list is quite extensive, so we have sorted them alphabetically and added logos for each designation so you can locate what you're looking for quickly.

First, in order to understand these designatons,  who is NAR??

NAR - National Association of Realtors®

The National Association of Realtors®  represents 1.2 million members.  Membership is composed of residential and commercial brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in the real estate industry. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its Code of Ethics.

ABR - Accredited Buyer's Representative®

The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation is designed for real estate buyer agents who focus on working directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the home-buying process. If you're in the market to buy a property, look for this certification.This designation is presented by REBAC (Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council).

ALC - Accredited Land Consultant

The Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) are the most trusted, knowledgeable, experienced, and highest-producing professionals in all segments of land. This designation requires successful completion of a rigorous LANDU (Land Real Estate Education) program, a specific, high-volume and experience level, and adherence to an honorable Code of Conduct.  This designation is presented by the Realtors Land Institute (RLI).

CCIM - Certified Commercial Investment Member

The Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation is commercial real estate’s global standard for professional achievement.  The designation is earned through a curriculum of 200 classroom hours and extensive experience. Includes brokers, leasing professionals, asset managers, appraisers, corporate real estate executives, investors, lenders, and other allied professionals.  This designation is presented by the CCIM Institute.

CIPS - Certified International Property Specialist

Global transactions are significantly different and more complex than domestic deals. From currency issues and financing to visa and tax laws, working with a Realtor® who knows how to handle these differences can make or break a real estate transaction. Because of these nuances, it is essential to work with a knowledgeable and trusted professional, such as a CIPS designee.This designation is presented by NAR and requires completion of five full-day courses focusing on the critical aspects of international real estate transactions. So, if you're looking to buy or sell internationally, look for this certification.

CPM - Certified Property Manager®

CPM designees are recognized as experts in real estate management. Holding this designation demonstrates expertise and integrity to employers, owners, and investors.  This is a good one to look for if you're looking to buy a property and rent it out.  It is presented by the Institute of Real Estate Management, or IREM.

CRB - Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager

The Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB) is one of the most respected designations offered in real estate business management.  This certification is presented by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI). Only 3% of Realtors® have met the requirements to acheive this designation.  What does this mean to you?  This means that the particular Realtor® is one of the most effective, efficient and profitable Realtors® in the industry.  They are better positioned to streamline operations, integrate new technology and apply new trends and business strategies, which helps you to complete your mission in real estate more efficiently.

CRS - Certified Residential Specialist

If you're looking to buy or sell a residential property, look for a CRS after the name.  The CRS is presented by the Council of Residential Specialists and is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers. On average, CRS designees earn nearly three times more in transactions and gross sales than non-designee Realtors®.

CRE™ - Counselor of Real Estate™

A Counselor of Real Estate provides  intelligent, unbiased real estate advice that achieves the best results for a client or employer. As the most respected real estate specialists in the industry, Counselors work on the most complex and important projects, effectively run real estate businesses, and are known for innovation and creative problem solving.  Only 1,100 practitioners throughout the world carry the CRE™ designation. Membership is by invitation from The Counselors of Real Estate only.

GAA - General Accredited Appraiser

If you're considering buying a house, there are two sides to the story:  the seller's asking price and the actual value of the property.  This is where the appraiser steps in, so you want a good one.  For general appraisers, this designation is awarded to those whose education and experience exceed state appraisal certification requirements.  The requirements to receive this designation include a minimum of 1000 hours of appraisal experience beyond state certification requirements, as well as completion of 60 hours of tested course work beyond the Appraiser Qualification Board's education requirement to become certified.  This designation is presented by the National Association of Realtors®.

GREEN - NAR's Green Designation

Looking to buy an enery efficient home?  Through NAR'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.  Learn more about leaving a smaller footprint on the planet Here.  Learn more about NAR's Green REsource Council Here.

GRI - Graduate, Realtor® Institute

Realtors® with the GRI designation have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards, and the sales process. This designation is also presented by NAR.  Learn more about the value of a Realtor® with the GRI certification Here.

PMN - Performance Management Network

This designation is presented by the Women's Council of Realtors®.  It focuses on negotiating strategies and tactics, networking and referrals, business planning and systems, personal performance management and  leadership development.  To me, this says great organizational skills and a good plan for executing your real estate agenda with efficiency.

RCE - Realtor® Association Certified Executive

The RCE designation exemplifies goal-oriented association executives with drive, experience and commitment to professional growth.  It is designated by NAR and involves additional education as well as professional development activities and acheivements.  The Realtor® must also pass a 3 module exam earning a 75% or better in order to receive the designation.

RAA - Residential Accredited Appraiser

The RAA and the GAA are the only two designations for appraisers supported by NAR.  For residential appraisers, this designation is awarded to those whose education and experience exceed state appraisal certification requirements.  As I stated before, it's a good idea to have a well seasoned appraiser on your side.

SRS - Seller Representative Specialist

This one is pretty obvious if you know what it stands for.  If you're selling a property, it would benefit you to find a Realtor® with the SRS designation.  They have extensive experience and education specifically in selling properties.  This designation is awarded by REBI.

SIOR - Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®

The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors is a commercial Realtor® association.  If a Realtor® has this designation, it means that they are a member of this association and are recognized by corporate real estate executives, commercial real estate brokers, agents, lenders, and others as the "most capable and experienced brokerage practitioners in any market."  Learn more about this designation at www.sior.com/about

SRES - Seniors Real Estate Specialist

SRES Realtors® specialize in the needs of one of the fastest growing markets out there, the 50+ crowd.  These agents are educated to profitably and ethically serve seniors.  This designation is awarded by the SRES Council.

We hope that this list was helpful to you!  Of course, some designations are more commonly seen than others, as a Realtor®, I myself was unaware of several of these Designations.  keep in mind, a Designation is not the same as a Certification.  What is the difference, you ask?  The simplest answer is that a Realtor® pays annual dues to hold a Designation once the educational requirements are met.  Certifications are earned by meeting educational requirements and paying a one time fee.  More info on Certifications soon to come!

Thanks for reading and best of luck to you on your endeavors! 

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National Association of Realtors




The Counselors of Real Estate

The Council of Residental Specialists

The Real Estate Business Institute

Institute of Real Estate Management

CCIM Institute

Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council

Realtors Land Institute

Society of Industrial and Office Realtors

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