March 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm EDT | by Valerie Blake
Alphabet soup 101
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(Photo by strawberryblues via Wikimedia Commons)

Have you met this woman or seen her business card, replete with real estate alphabet soup after her name: Ima Goodagent, Realtor®, ABR®, CRS®, ePRO®, GRI, SRES®, ADHD?

Most people know about educational designations like BA (Bachelor of Arts), MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy).  Some can even distinguish between acronyms like LLC (Limited Liability Company), LP (Limited Partnership) and LLP (Limited Liability Partnership).  Real estate designations, however, generally leave people scratching their heads, first because there are so many of them and second because they are not intuitive.

First, the term Realtor that appears after Ima’s name means that she is a member in good standing of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and is responsible for following a strict code of ethics when dealing with clients, colleagues and the public in general.  Many people use the term “agent” and “Realtor” interchangeably but only members of the national association can call themselves Realtors.

We real estate agents really are an educated group. In addition to coursework required biennially to renew our licenses, there are several dozen other educational opportunities available that allow us to acquire new skills, improve existing ones and be recognized for our ability to offer specialized services to our clients.

You may encounter a large bowl of this alphabet soup when buying or selling a home or an investment property, or even when buying or leasing commercial space. In our example, Ima Goodagent holds the following NAR designations:

ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) – Coursework and experience leading to this designation signifies that an agent has the necessary skills to legally, ethically and professionally represent a buyer’s interests in the acquisition of property. Membership in the Real Estate Buyer Agent Council (REBAC) is required.

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) – This designation focuses on residential sales in general and is geared to both listing and selling property. Not only does it require 64 to 80 hours of study but it also features rigorous production requirements and requires membership in The Council of Residential Specialists.

ePRO (Internet Professional) – First offered when the real estate industry’s online presence was in its infancy, this certification signifies that the recipient can market property and conduct transactions electronically.

GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) – Think of this designation as a series of post-graduate courses for agents. This 90-hour course includes real estate law, procedure, finance, business management, fair housing, ethics and more, and is the prerequisite for obtaining a broker’s license.

SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) –This designation is relatively new and features strategies to help agents work with buyers and sellers aged 50 and up, an age that someone out there arbitrarily determined was the threshold between middle-aged and senior.

Some designations and certifications are offered only by the NAR. Others may be offered by a variety of educational institutions across the country and online. Here are some of the most common ones available for specific disciplines within the real estate industry.

ALC (Accredited Land Consultant) – land sales

ASP (Accredited Staging Professional) – home staging

CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) – commercial sales and leasing

CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) – foreign property sales

CPM (Certified Property Manager) – managing leased property

CRP (Certified Relocation Professional) – working with corporate transferees

GREEN (NAR’s Green Designation) – ecological sustainability in real estate

RAA (Residential Accredited Appraiser) – property appraisal

RSPS (Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist) – vacation property sales

SFR (Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource) – distressed home sales

I believe that our experiences working consistently in the real estate jungle can provide another, equally valid type of education. Nonetheless, if you are reading this article on its publication date, think of me sitting in a very uncomfortable chair with my classmates, completing the course that will allow me to add SRES to my own set of real estate ABCs. It’s the least I can do for my fellow boomers.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.  Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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