Alphabet Soup? Nope, Those Are Real Estate Agent Designations!

Joe Cline

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What do the letters behind a real estate agent’s name stand for? Real estate agents, like doctors, lawyers, and other professionals can ear designations, certifications, and other credentials. These are usually shown by putting a series of initials after the agent’s name. The most common designations and certifications are: Broker, REALTOR, e-Pro, CHMS, GRI, ABR, and CRS.

What does an agent have to do to obtain the designation or certification?

e-Pro requires an agent take a class on basic computer skills. It has no real estate content, but ensures your agent can use email and the web. It should really be a bare minimum bar for the technology aptitude of your agent.

REALTOR is the one of the easier credentials to obtain (but one of the hardest to live up to). A REALTOR is a real estate agent that belongs to the National Association of REALTORS and agrees to follow the Realtor Code of Ethics. You can read about the code here nsf/pages/Code?OpenDocument

Broker is a bit harder to obtain than REALTOR. In Texas, for example, a broker license is required to be able to operate your own real estate company. An agent must have their license for 2 years and complete over 600 hours of real estate education prior to applying for a broker’s license. The broker’s license is granted upon completion of an exam administered by the state. Brokers are basically real estate agents with advanced educations.

GRI stands for Graduate Realtor Institute. Less than 50% of agents have this designation. The GRI requires 12 days of continuing education with passing grades on three exams. There are no production or time requirements so an agent can literally earn this designation by sitting in class for 12 days and passing the tests. This designation is in no way a measure of real estate sales experience.

ABR stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative. Less than 30% of agents have this designation. This designation combines 2 days of classroom work and an exam with the requirement that the agent show proof of at least five buyer sales. This designation shows that the agent has had both formal classroom time and in the field experience.

CRS stands for Certified Residential Specialist. Less than 4% of all agents have this designation. This is the most difficult designation to obtain and is a measure of a high degree of formal education and real world transactional experience. To obtain a CRS, the agent must attend three 2-day classes, pass three exams, and provide proof of 25 closed transactions within the last 24 months. While the transaction experience isn’t a huge amount, it does weed out the inexperienced agents and the classes weed out those agents who aren’t dedicated to continuing education.

Other designations are out there, but for the most part they are issued by inconsequential groups and have no real bearing on the agent’s abilities and are used more for marketing purposes than anything else.

- Joe Cline is a professional real estate broker, investor, and REALTOR with Coldwell Banker in Austin, Texas. Joe believes in providing world-class service to his clients through educating and coaching them through their real estate transactions.

Joe's committment to education and service is reinforced by his achievement and participation in the Austin Board of Realtors, Council of Residential Specialists, Accredited Buyer's Representative's Council, Texas Association of Realtors, and National Association of Realtors.

Joe holds his Broker's license, the Accredited Buyer's Representative designation, the Certified Residential Specialist designation, the Certified Home Marketing Specialist designation, Cendant Mobility Marketing Specialist designation and the Cendant Mobility Referral Specialist desgination.

You can find out more about Joe and Austin real estate at Joe Cline's personal website


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