By:  Vicki Fullerton, 2009 Chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, previously printed in the Houston Chronicle

While working with a Realtor to buy or sell a home, you may have seen “GRI”, “CRB”, or “CRE” after a Realtor’s name and wondered what those letters meant.  Like most industries that constantly are changing, real estate demands continuing education throughout a Realtor’s career.

A successful agent must keep up to date with current issues, evolving technology, changing laws and regulations, and other important aspects of the business.  After all, it’s that comprehensive knowledge that gives Realtors the ability to help consumers buy and sell houses successfully. 

The National Association of Realtor (NAR) offers advanced education designation and certification programs through its institutes, societies and councils for Realtors.  Though there are other designations, these programs carry an official endorsement from NAR.

Just as an MBA carries with it a certain distinction in the business world, so do the letters after a Realtor’s name in the world of real estate.  These designations and certification programs are tailored to every real estate specialty you’ve heard of, and probably some you haven’t, so if there’s an area of specialty you need, you almost certainly can find a Realtor who has it.

For example, your Realtor might have extra training as a buyer’s representative, land consultant, commercial investment expert, property manager, appraiser or brokerage manager.  Many Realtors earn several designations to keep as current as possible in multiple areas of the real estate industry.  You may want to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of a particular area.  After all, buying property is pretty complicated.  New technology, laws, procedures, and the increasing sophistication of buyers and sellers require real estate practitioners to perform at top professional levels, and consumers are demanding it.

GRI designation

One of the most comprehensive designations for Realtors is the GRI  (Graduate, Realtor Institute).  It’s a curriculum that requires Realtors to complete an advanced course series that includes 90 hours of classroom instruction.  There’s an emphases on technology, business development, sales and marketing, and critical legal and regulatory issues such as fair housing, brokerage relationships and environmental concerns.  State and local Realtor associations offer these classes, giving Realtors ample opportunity to stay on top of the real estate profession.

The GRI program gives Realtors an understanding of the industry’s finer points and that can only benefit folks who rely on that expertise to find the house of their dreams or sell their longtime residence.  And there’s more.

The following are NAR-endorsed designation and certification programs.  Look for these next time you need a Realtor with a specific area of expertise:

ABR:   Accredited Buyer Representative

ABRM:   Accredited Buyer Representative Manager

ALC:   Accredited Land Consultant

CCIM:  Certified Commercial Investment Member

CIPS:  Certified International Property Specialist

CPM:   Certified Property Manager

CRB:  Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager

CRS:  Certified Residential Specialist

CRE:   Counselor of Real Estate

GAA:   General Accredited Appraiser

GRI:  Gradate, Realtor Institute

Green:  Sustainable Property Designation

PMN:  Performance Management Network

RCE:  Realtor Association Certified Executive

RAA:  Residential Accredited Appraiser

SRES:  Seniors Real Estate Specialist

SIOR:  Society of Industrial and Office Realtors

Certification Programs:

AHWD:  At Home with Diversity Certification

e-Pro:  Certification program for online professionalism

RSPS:   Resort and Second-home Property Specialist

REPA:  Real Estate Professional Assistant

TNC:  Transnational Referral Certification