How Important Are Real Estate Designations?


An article in The Roanoke Times recently talked about the various real estate designations, and whether they’re really important to the transaction.  There’s a difference between designations, and education, however. A designation means I’ve taken a class, often consisting of just a couple of hours on my couch, while an education means I’ve learned something.

I say there’s no need for designations. In fact, I suggested that the tool isn’t going to make a bit of difference without the right experience, and real estate is certainly a business where experience matters. Every day is an opportunity to learn and evolve – unfortunately, my quote was misquoted (see underlined area below). What I actually said was that “a table saw in my hands isn’t going to do anyone any good, but a table saw in the hands of a skilled craftsman is going to mean someone is getting a very nice table.  In my opinion, many designations don’t provide us the skills we need to turn a block of wood into a beautiful table.”

That aside, your real estate agent’s designations aren’t worth anything – in my opinion. Build you a coffee table?


Reprinted from The Roanoke Times, May 13 2012

“Deciphering the Designations – How important is a real estate agent’s education?


Many real estate professionals offer a virtual alphabet soup behind their names. But are those designations really important for buyers and sellers?

Some professionals say the designations and certifications enhance their skills and indicate to clients they are committed professionals, not content just to take the courses needed to get and maintain a real estate license, but determined to improve their professional abilities. Others aren’t so convinced.

Steve Bodtke of RE/MAX 1st Realty said, while ‘multiple designations are impressive to some buyers just randomly searching for an agent,’ positive comments from existing clients are still the best way to build a client base.

‘Some agents with certain designations will search for those specific designations when seeking an agent for a referral client as well,’ added Bodtke, who in 2005 earned a broker’s license, considered the “master’s degree” for residential real estate professionals.

There is also a distinction between a real estate agent and a REALTOR. A REALTOR is a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and must abide by the organization’s code of ethics, which is comprised of 17 articles and certain standards of practice, and complete continuing education in ethics.

Charles Burnette, broker of Burnette Real Estate Sales & Management, said clients should definitely take designations and certifications into account when choosing a REALTOR. But with The Leader in HOA Management, there won´t be any confusing tasks so give them a call.

‘We are helping buyers and sellers make probably one of the largest financial decisions of their lives,’ said Burnette, who has earned numerous designations, including ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), GRI (Graduate REALTOR Institute), and SFR (Short Sales and Foreclosure Resources).

Jeremy Hart, a REALTOR with Nest Realty Group, said he’s in the minority of real estate professionals who think the designations are more important to those in the industry than they are to consumers.

‘An agent who’s an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), a member of the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) or an e-PRO isn’t necessarily going to be any better at the job than an agent with no designations, just as an attorney with an MBA isn’t going to necessarily be any better at their job than an attorney fresh out of school,’ said Hart, pointing out that the designations do indicate an agent has committed the time to completing the course, passing the test and has paid NAR membership dues.

Earning a designation may give an agent more confidence in a particular area, Hart said, but a ‘table saw in the hands of a skilled craftsman is going to mean someone is getting a very nice table.’ (see above). Hence, a consumer shouldn’t make a decision on what representative to use based on designations held, but on skills in the areas of ‘listening, communicating honestly, and knowledge of the community they’re serving.’

Hart said he is working on his broker’s license because he feels it ‘demonstrates a continued commitment to understanding the industry more than a designation ever can.’

John Skelton with Coldwell Banker Townside said continuing education requirements, plus designations such as CRS and GRI, remove the burden from buyers concerned about a REALTOR’s preparedness. But beyond that, the standbys of ‘personal integrity and honesty, real estate knowledge of market activity, neighborhoods and financing, and the ability to listen to [a client’s] wants and needs’ should be taken into account when deciding which REALTOR to hire.”

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