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Explanation of Acronyms / Designations for Real Estate Agents

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Realtor Designations and Certifications

Not every consumer cares about real estate designations, but they are important to agents.

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You may wonder about the alphabet-soup acronyms that real estate agents use after their names. What do they mean? Do you care? The designations can represent anything from two hours of online study to months of classroom education. Some designations are available to agents based solely on agent experience, extensive qualifications and payment of a huge fee.

Here is a list of the top ten most popular real estate designations:

ABR - Accredited Buyer Representative

Online self-pace courses for real estate agents who represent buyers as a buyer's agent. Unlike exclusive buyer's agents who never represent sellers, an agent who has earned this designation may elect to work as a listing agent or a buyer's agent. Must pass the exam. It is offered through Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council. Fee: About $300.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Documentation of completed single-agency transactions, either before or after graduation.
  • Membership in the National Association of Realtors
  • Membership in The Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council

ACRE - Accredited Consultant in Real Estate

This designation is offered through a private company formed by Realtors, Accredited Consultant in Real Estate. Agents download the course book, read it and take the exam online. It teaches agents how to use a consulting approach versus a sales approach. Fee: About $500.

Additional Qualifications:

  • None, but to be listed as an ACRE member on the company's Web site, an additional fee is required

ACR - Accredited Seller Representative

Offered through Realty U Online, this course is designed to improve a listing agent's professionalism and refine the dimension of service to sellers. Agents can choose between online or in-class courses and must pass the exam. Fee: About $300.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Documentation of closed single-agency transactions
  • Letters of recommendations from sellers of the above transactions
  • Membership in the National Association of Realtors
  • Membership for a fee in the Seller Agency Council

AHWD - At Home With Diversity

Sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, AHWD promises to increase agent awareness and sensitivity to people of different cultures. Agents can choose between in-class attendance or an online course. The certification can be used as credit toward other designations such as CRS. Fee: About $50.

Additional Qualifications:

  • None, but that's because AHWD is not really a designation; it's a certification, yet worthy of inclusion in this list

CRE - Counselor of Real Estate

The Counselors of Real Estate offer membership in its organization by invitation only. To be eligible, an agent must have at least 10 years in the business with related counseling experience and be recognized for excellence. Fee: $2,500 initiation, $1,500 annually thereafter.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Objective analysis experience
  • Adhere to organization's Code of Ethics
  • Membership in the National Association of Realtors

CRS - Certified Residential Specialist

The Council of Residential Specialists says agents who hold a CRS designation earn four times more than average agents. Agents must pass four- to six-unit courses, depending on the number of the agent's closed transactions within a specified time period. Emphasis is on education to better represent residential clients. Fee: Each unit is about $150.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Membership in the National Association of Realtors
  • Membership in a local board of Realtors
  • Membership in the Council of Residential Specialists
  • Payment of an application fee

E-PRO - Certified Internet Professional

Sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, ePRO is an online course about using e-mail, navigating the Internet and incorporating digital devices into the workplace. Agents must pass an online exam. Fee: Under $400.

Additional Qualifications:

  • To use the designation, agents must be a Realtor and member of the National Association of Realtors

GRI - Graduate Realtor Institute

Approved by the National Association of Realtors and offered through state Realtor associations, agents who desire a GRI designation must complete a minimum of 90 to 95 hours of coursework pertaining to the state that licenses them, and pass the exams. Education covers law, practice, finance, taxes, exchanges and more. Fee: The Sacramento Board of Realtors, for example, charges about $1900.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Membership as a Realtor in the National Association of Realtors
  • Membership as a Realtor in the state association of Realtors
  • Membership as a Realtor in a local board of Realtors

QSC - Quality Service Certification

Quality Service Certification, Inc. gives agents the choice between live or online coursework. Emphasis is on accountability, superior service and professionalism. Agents get two chances to pass the exam. Fee: Includes 15 surveys, under $300.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Must sign commitment to be professional, accountable and to participate in a survey for every transaction
  • Must participate in client satisfaction survey and pay a fee for each survey. Agent ratings are published online

SRES - Senior Real Estate Specialist

Sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, the SRES designation is for agents who work with buyers and sellers over the age of 55. Agents can be any age. Coursework is offered as a two-day live class, online or a combination of the two. Must pass exam. Fee: Home Study is about $400.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Membership in the National Association of Realtors
  • Pay annual dues for membership in SRES Council

Note: Qualifications and fees are subject to change.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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