Real Estate Agent Designations

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 of ethics if you'd like more information.

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, complete over 600 hours of real estate education, and provide proof of practical experience 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.

Joe has decided to discontinue his membership with ABR. Joe attained his ABR and kept it in good standing for many years, by paying yearly dues, but has chosen to let his membership lapse due to a low ROI.

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.

Joe has decided to discontinue his membership with CRS. Joe attained his CRS and kept it in good standing for many years, by paying yearly dues, but has chosen to let his membership lapse due to a low ROI.

Other designations

These 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.

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