Q: Marsha, I’m purchasing my first home. A good friend referred me to a real estate agent. She’s quite competent and knowledgeable. She calls herself a Realtor and has several designations on her business card, such as GRI, ABR and CRS. I have no idea what any of this means. Can you explain?
A: Congratulations on making you first home purchase. It will be a life-changing move for you. You have a great question. What is the difference between working with a real estate agent and a capital-“R” Realtor? And what are all those letters so many agents have on their business cards?
The terms real estate agent and Realtor are often used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be. These are two different types of real estate professionals. To become a licensed real estate agent in California, you need to be at least 18 years old, complete 135 hours of required education, apply for the salesperson exam and application, get fingerprinted, have a background check, and pass the California real estate license exam.
Realtor is a trademarked term. Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It is the largest trade association in the United States. They have a strict code of ethics and professional standards. The Code has 17 articles along with supporting Standards of Practice. When you work with a designated Realtor, you are working with someone who has a commitment to a higher level of professionalism. That means a great deal to the real-estate-consuming public.
What do all the different letter designations mean? They mean your Realtor is working hard to stay current. She has taken the time, effort, and money to learn more about her profession. I’ll talk about the three recognitions you mentioned are on your Realtor’s business card.
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Your Realtor has her ABR — Accredited Buyer’s Representative — certification. This shows she has completed a two-day course, received a passing grade on the exam, and has practical experience working with buyers. She is proficient on the latest methods of working with today’s buyers.
She also has her GRI and CRS designations. The GRI — Graduate Realtor Institute — is associated with NAR. She has taken a 12-day course of continuing education and had passing grades on three tests. She has a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to understand the current real estate market, no matter what condition it’s in.
The CRS stands for the Council of Residential Specialists. This is the largest not-for-profit affiliate of NAR. It is a professional network of more than 30,000 residential professionals, in the United States and internationally. It is a prestigious designation that displays advanced professional training.
There are many certifications available to the real estate community. Besides what I’ve discussed, there is SRES, CBR, e-PRO, Green Broker, NAHB, and the list goes on. Just know Realtors are staying current.
You are fortunate to be working with someone who is committed to her field and maintaining a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.
Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for more than 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps her clients buy and sell homes and with lending services. To read more of Marsha’s Q&A articles, visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or MarshaGraySB@gmail.com. DRE# 012102130; NMLS #1982164.