Top 11 Realtor Certifications

This article discusses the most important realtor certifications and how they can help realtors advance their career.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 15 min read

Certifications are important for realtors in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that the realtor has a certain level of expertise and knowledge in the field. By obtaining certifications, realtors can stand out from their competition and prove to potential employers that they have the qualifications necessary to succeed in the industry. Certifications also provide employers with assurance that a realtor is up-to-date on the latest trends, regulations, and laws related to real estate transactions. Additionally, certifications can help a realtor build credibility among clients by demonstrating their commitment to professional excellence.

The purpose of this article is to review and explain how top realtor certifications can help advance a real estate professional's career.

What are Realtor Certifications?

Realtor certification is a training program offered by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It is designed to help real estate agents and brokers become more knowledgeable in their field. The program includes courses that cover topics such as finance, marketing, legal issues, and ethics. In addition, agents must pass an exam in order to become certified.

Having a Realtor certification can be beneficial for both agents and clients. For real estate professionals, it shows that they have taken the time to get additional education and training in the industry. This can make them more attractive to potential employers or customers who may want someone with a higher level of expertise. For clients, having a certified realtor can provide peace of mind that their agent has up-to-date knowledge and is qualified to handle their transaction. Additionally, being certified may also give agents access to some exclusive benefits provided by NAR such as discounts on products and services or access to special resources. Ultimately, getting a Realtor certification is a great way for real estate professionals to increase their knowledge base while also demonstrating their commitment to their profession.

Pro Tip: Make sure you stay up-to-date on all of the latest realtor certification requirements and regulations. Many states and organizations have their own specific requirements for what constitutes a certified realtor, so it’s important to make sure you are compliant with any applicable rules. Additionally, staying informed on the most recent developments in the real estate industry will help you stay competitive in your field.

Related: What does a Realtor do?

Top 11 Realtor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Realtors today.

1. Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR)

Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR) is a designation given by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC). It is awarded to real estate agents who have completed specific training in representing buyers of real estate. The ABR designation signifies that the agent has a commitment to providing quality service to buyers and has demonstrated knowledge and skills in buyer representation.

It typically takes between 2-4 weeks to complete the ABR designation program. To get the ABR designation, you must first take an online course, which covers topics such as working with buyers, understanding contracts, negotiating strategies, and other aspects of buyer representation. After completing the online course, you must then pass a written exam with a score of at least 75%. Once you have passed the exam, you will be eligible for your ABR certification.

The cost for obtaining the ABR designation varies depending on where you are located; however, it usually costs between $250-$500 USD. This cost includes registration fees for both the online course and written exam as well as any additional materials needed for completion of the program.

2. Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) is a professional designation awarded to real estate agents who have completed advanced training and demonstrated outstanding professional achievement in residential real estate. The CRS designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers.

To earn the CRS designation, an agent must complete a comprehensive course of study that covers topics such as marketing, technology, finance, and risk management. Agents must also demonstrate their knowledge by passing a written exam.

The course typically takes about two weeks to complete and the exam can be taken online or in person at a designated testing center. The cost of the course varies depending on the provider but generally ranges from $400-$600. After passing the exam, agents must pay an annual membership fee of $150 to maintain their CRS status.

3. Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI)

The Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) is a professional designation for real estate agents and brokers. It is awarded by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and signifies that the individual has achieved a higher level of knowledge in all aspects of real estate transactions.

The GRI program consists of four courses that cover topics such as finance, marketing, negotiation, legal issues, and technology. The program takes approximately one year to complete if taken on a full-time basis. However, there are also part-time options available for those who cannot commit to a full-time schedule.

In order to obtain the GRI designation, individuals must first become members of NAR. Once they have done so, they can register for the GRI program and begin taking classes online or through an approved provider. Upon successful completion of all four courses, individuals will receive their GRI designation from NAR.

The cost to obtain the GRI designation varies depending on how many courses are taken at once and which provider is chosen. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 depending on these factors.

4. Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)

Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) is a designation offered by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It is designed to help real estate professionals gain the knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve clients who are involved in international real estate transactions. The CIPS designation requires completion of five courses, which cover topics such as global real estate markets and cultures, international investment analysis, and cross-border transactions.

It typically takes about six months to complete the five courses required for the CIPS designation. Each course can be taken online or in person at a local NAR chapter. The cost of each course varies depending on whether it is taken online or in person, but typically ranges from $200-$400 per course. Additionally, there is an application fee of $150 and a one-time fee of $250 for the CIPS designation itself.

5. Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)

A Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) is a designation awarded to real estate professionals who have completed additional coursework and training in understanding the needs, considerations, and goals of real estate clients aged 50+. SRES Designees are REALTORS® who understand the complexities of both the real estate transaction and the senior lifestyle.

It takes approximately 12-14 hours of coursework to become an SRES Designee. The coursework can be taken online or in person at a local REALTOR® association. The cost for the course varies depending on the provider, but generally ranges from $150-$400.

Once you have completed the coursework, you will need to pass an exam administered by the SRES Council. Once you have passed this exam, you will receive your official SRES designation certificate.

6. At Home With Diversity (AHWD)

At Home With Diversity (AHWD) is a program offered by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) that provides real estate professionals with the tools to understand and work successfully with a rapidly changing multicultural population. The program focuses on cultural diversity, fair housing law, and business planning strategies for working with diverse clients and customers.

The AHWD program consists of an 8-hour course that can be taken either in-person or online. The cost for the course is $99 for NAR members and $129 for non-members. To get started, you must register for the course through the NAR website. Once registered, you will receive access to all of the materials needed to complete the course including videos, articles, quizzes, and more.

Once you have completed all of the requirements in the course, you will receive your At Home With Diversity certification from NAR which is valid for two years. This certification can be used as evidence of your commitment to diversity and inclusion when marketing yourself as a real estate professional.

7. E-PRO Certification

E-PRO Certification is a professional certification program offered by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). It is designed to help real estate professionals understand and use technology tools and resources to better serve their clients. The E-PRO certification program consists of two courses, which can be completed online or in person. The first course covers the basics of using technology in real estate, including digital marketing, social media, search engine optimization, mobile applications, and more. The second course focuses on using technology to improve customer service and build relationships with clients.

The E-PRO Certification program takes approximately 16 hours to complete and costs $179 for members of NAR or $279 for non-members. To get certified, you must successfully complete both courses within six months of enrolling in the program. After completing the courses, you will receive an official E-PRO certificate from NAR that is valid for three years. You will also be eligible to display the E-PRO logo on your website and other marketing materials to demonstrate your commitment to using technology in your practice.

8. Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS)

Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS) is a designation awarded to real estate agents who specialize in the luxury home market. The ALHS designation is designed to help agents gain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively market and sell high-end homes.

The ALHS program is administered by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC), a subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become an ALHS, agents must complete a two-day course that covers topics such as luxury home marketing, pricing strategies, negotiation techniques, and customer service.

It typically takes two days to complete the ALHS course. The cost of the course varies depending on the location but generally ranges from $200-$400. Upon completion of the course, agents must pass a final exam in order to receive their ALHS designation.

9. Military Relocation Professional (MRP)

Military Relocation Professional (MRP) is a designation given to real estate professionals who have completed an education program developed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The program provides specialized training and resources to help military families make informed decisions when relocating. It also provides a network of professionals who understand the unique needs of military families.

The MRP program consists of three courses: Military Relocation Principles, Military Benefits & Resources, and Working with Military Clients. Each course takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the student’s learning style. The courses can be taken online or in person.

The cost for the MRP program varies depending on how it is taken. Online courses range from $99-$199 per course, while in-person classes range from $150-$200 per course.

Upon completion of all three courses, participants receive a certificate and are eligible for the MRP designation. They will also gain access to exclusive resources such as marketing materials, webinars, and discounts on NAR products and services.

10. Seller Representative Specialist (SRS)

Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) is a professional designation that recognizes real estate professionals who have completed advanced training in representing sellers in the transaction process. The SRS designation is awarded by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI), an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®.

The SRS designation program takes approximately 10-15 hours to complete, and consists of two courses: “Understanding Seller Representation” and “Advanced Seller Representation Strategies.” Both courses are available online, and upon completion, participants will receive their SRS designation certificate.

To get the SRS designation, candidates must meet certain requirements, including having a valid real estate license in good standing for at least three years; completing the two required courses; and passing a comprehensive exam with a score of 80% or higher.

The cost for obtaining the SRS designation varies depending on where you live and which course package you choose. Generally speaking, it costs between $250-$400 to obtain your SRS designation.

11. Green Designation

Green Designation is a professional certification program that recognizes real estate professionals who have completed advanced training in green building principles and practices. It is designed to help real estate professionals better serve buyers and sellers of green homes, as well as those interested in incorporating green features into their existing homes.

The Green Designation program takes approximately 30 hours of coursework to complete. The courses cover topics such as understanding the principles of green building, recognizing the benefits of energy efficiency, learning about sustainable communities, and understanding how to market green homes.

To get the Green Designation, you must first meet certain eligibility requirements. These include having an active real estate license in good standing and completing at least one approved course on green building or sustainability within the past two years. After meeting these requirements, you can then register for the Green Designation program online and take the required courses.

The cost of getting your Green Designation varies depending on where you take your courses and which courses you choose to take. Generally speaking, it costs between $500-$1,000 to get your Green Designation.

Do You Really Need a Realtor Certificate?

Yes, a realtor certificate is an important credential for anyone in the real estate industry. It demonstrates to potential clients that you have the knowledge and experience necessary to provide them with quality services and help them make informed decisions about their real estate needs. A realtor certificate also helps to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest regulations and trends in the industry, which can be invaluable when it comes to finding buyers or sellers for your clients.

In addition, a realtor certificate can provide credibility in the eyes of lenders, appraisers, and other professionals who may want to work with you. This is because a certified agent has taken the time to learn about all aspects of the business and has proven their commitment by passing tests and completing courses related to their profession. Furthermore, having a realtor certificate can be beneficial when it comes to negotiating deals or obtaining financing on behalf of your clients.

Overall, having a realtor certificate is an essential part of being successful in the real estate industry. It will give you an edge over other agents who don’t have one and will serve as proof of your professionalism and expertise.

Related: Realtor Resume Examples

FAQs About Realtor Certifications

1. What types of realtor certifications are available?

Answer: There are a variety of realtor certification options available, including the Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR), Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE), and Seller Representative Specialist (SRS).

2. How do I become certified as a realtor?

Answer: To become certified as a realtor, you must complete an approved course and pass the associated exam. You must also have a valid license to practice real estate in your state.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a realtor?

Answer: It typically takes between 2-6 months to become certified as a realtor depending on the type of certification you choose and how quickly you can complete the necessary coursework and exam preparation.

4. What benefits come with being a certified realtor?

Answer: Being a certified realtor allows you to demonstrate expertise in specific areas of the industry, such as buyer representation, international property sales, or negotiation strategies that can give you an edge when competing for listings or buyers. Additionally, having specialized certifications may open up additional career opportunities within the industry that wouldn’t be available to non-certified agents.

5. Is there an annual fee associated with being a certified realtor?

Answer: Yes, some certifications require an annual fee to maintain your active status and access certain benefits associated with that certification.