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The South Bay Real Estate Marketplace


From “The South Bay Real Estate Marketplace”

The month of September is REALTOR® Designations Awareness Month. According to Steve Goddard, the National Association of REALTOR®s’ past chairman of the Designations and Certification Committee and a broker/manager for Re/Max Beach Cities Realty, “REALTOR® Designations Awareness Month is designed to increase community awareness so when special real estate needs arise – such as the sale of an investment property, property management or counseling – they can choose a real estate professional to meet their needs.”

Some of the more obscure designations, such as Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) actually are useful in the event of a specialized need.

The designations most buyers and sellers will encounter, however, are GRI, CRS, and CRB.

“We like to put these on our business cards,” said Goddard. “One of the main reasons is because it prompts potential clients to ask what they mean.”

That’s a REALTOR®’s cue to explain all the work it took to earn those little letters and impress the client with his experience and knowledge.

“The best example I can think of is the difference between an accountant and CPA,” Goddard said. “It takes a lot of effort to become a certified public accountant. If you are working with a CPA, you have some confidence that the person is qualified to help you.”

REALTOR®s who go to the trouble of studying, and taking classes and tests, really do seem to benefit. According to Goddard, the average REALTOR® makes $33,000 a year. “But an agent with the GRI and CRS designations makes more like $80,000 to $90,000. So, it is worth it to the agent, but the real benefit is still to the consumer.”


How do those initials behind a REALTOR®’S name help a buyer or seller? To get a CRS designation, a REALTOR® needs to do at least $3 million in a business, so he or she has an initial base of experience. Once the CRS has been earned, a REALTOR® probably will do even more business, significantly increasing his or her knowledge of the industry.  An experienced agent will also probably be a capable professional to work with.

 Still, only 5 percent of agents have earned the CRS designation, so people likely will work with a non-CRS agent at some point REALTOR®s designated GRI are much more common, but a lot of agents don’t have that, either.

 Do people need to work with an agent who has one or more designations? Not necessarily, but usually more education, the more knowledgeable the agent.

Here’s a brief explanation of some NAR designations. There actually are 12, but these are the ones people are likely to see when buying or selling a home.

REALTOR®. The term REALTOR® is actually a designation of its own. All 50 states require those interested in a real estate career to attend a licensing course and pass an exam. Once they have their real estate license, they can begin to do business, but they are only REALTOR® if they become a NAR member.

 Many real estate agents join a county or state association that charges dues and provides, among other things access to the Multiple Listing Service of homes for sale. Joining a local association usually gives an agent automatic membership in the NAR, making the agent a REALTOR®. There are 730,000 REALTORS®s in the NAR, the world’s largest professional association.

 GRI. Graduate, REALTOR® Institute is often the first designation a REALTOR® seeks after being licensed. Each state offers its own course, which must be approved by the NAR. Earning the GRI involves 90 hours of coursework in real estate marketing finance and law.

CRS. A Certified Residential Specialist has completed a series of courses in listing properties, selling, and investing, along with financing and computer training. This designation takes quite a while to earn and is a good indication of an agent’s level of experience and commitment to the business. Only 5 percent of agents can be called a CRS.

CRB. Real estate companies are managed by brokers and associated brokers, who have agents working for them on the street. A Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager has completed courses in management, marketing, and real estate ethics. Some designation-hungry salespeople have a CRB, but most CRBs are in the company office, not on the street with buyers and sellers.

ABR. REALTOR® who specialize entirely or significantly in representing buyers may earn the Accredited Buyer Representative designation through the NAR’s Real Estate Buyers Agent Council. A relatively new designation with only 30,000 designees, ABR has come out because of the rapidly growing practice of REALTOR®s working specifically with home buyers.

CIPS. REALTORS® who specializes in international real estate sometimes earn the designation Certified International Property Specialist. They spend time learning the peculiarities of foreign realty practices, tax and legal considerations, and international marketing.

CPM and ARM. A Certified Property Manager often will manage an apartment building, office complex, or shopping center. Another designation, Accredited Residential Manager, is similar but with a residential focus. Some REALTOR®s pursue a CPM or ARM because of their work with condominium home sales or because they do a lot of work with renters.