As you search for properties or to find someone to list your house with you will come across terms that may seem a bit confusing. I thought it would be helpful to explain some of these terms. So here goes.
Brokers and Salespersons
We are licensed by the States where we sell real estate. Those States license us as either “Brokers” or “Salespersons”. When we finish real estate school and take the state licensing test we begin our career as a “Salesperson” and must be sponsored by a more experienced “Real Estate Broker”. We can not go out and open an office unless we are a “Broker”. In Louisiana the law says that we must work as a Salesperson under the supervision of a Broker for 4 years before we can take the State Licensing examination to become a “Real Estate Broker”. To become a Salesperson we must take a certain number of hours of classroom instruction before we can take the State test. To become a Broker we must take additional hours of classroom instruction before we can take that test.
If we take and pass the State Broker’s examination we have the option of working as an “Associate Broker” which is the choice of not going out and opening our own office but continuing to work under a “Broker”.
If you see the term “Realtor” that will mean that the State licensee has joined their local Board of Realtors which in the New Orleans area would be the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors otherwise known as NOMAR. If you join your local Board of Realtors then you also belong to the State Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors otherwise known as NAR.
NAR has a Code of Ethics that is the oldest Code of Ethics for any organization in the country. If you see the term Realtor then that agent or broker is bound by the NAR Code of Ethics. There is no test to become a Realtor just membership dues that are paid to the local, state and national associations. The word “Realtor” is a trademark and can’t be used without membership. Realtors are required to take Quadrennial training in the Code of Ethics.
Not all licensees of a State join their local board of realtors and therefore may not be Realtors.
Alphabet of Letters After A Licensees Name
Some agents and/or brokers may decide to take additional classes and earn what is called a designation. These designations are controversial and I am not sure that the public understands designations or cares about them. That is fine. I have over the past 22 years decided to improve my knowledge and obtained many designations. Does that make me an expert, nope. Does it mean that I went an extra step and took a few more courses in an attempt to learn more about my chosen career, yup. So here are some of the Designations that I have obtained and what they mean.
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS). This is to me the premier Designation for Residential Real Estate Brokers and Agents. The required courses that must be taken are the best and you must prove a level of production. About 5% of agents across the country have obtained this designation.
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). This is the course to take to learn about representing buyer’s. In Louisiana we represent the client we are working with and this course teaches us that in a negotiation we must always keep the buyer’s best interests at heart, inform and guide the buyer in terms of contracts, mortgages, inspections, and other contingencies that may come up and they do come up in the current environment.
Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE). This course was developed because of the volume of foreclosures and short sales that are in the market place. We learned how to deal with the Banks, what they expected, how to go through a short sale successfully.
Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). This course was developed because of the aging population, the baby boomers and what their needs will be down the road.
Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI). This was the first designation I took back in the early 90’s and I honestly do not remember the details. I know the courses have changed considerably over the past 20 years and I remember learning a lot at the time.
e-Pro-Internet Specialist. About 15 years ago when the Internet was starting to be a presence in the Real Estate Industry a course was put together to explain some of the basics. I had an AOL email account back, a beeper and they had to drill holes in my car to install a cellular phone. We were taught to respond to consumers emails, we were taught to have an email signature, we were taught how to insert images into blog posts. Things that second nature now.
Certified New Home Specialist. Basics about construction, from drawings to being built.
Accredited Staging Professional (realtor). If you are deciding to sell your home I can help stage the property. This is not a full staging designation but one specific Real Estate Agents.
Short Sale and Foreclosure Representative. Additional short sale training.
Historic House Specialist. Training and historical perspective on Historic Properties.
What does this all mean to the public not much but it should. Consumers don’t spend the time to interview their agents. A lot of seller’s will use who they know or a neighbor, training and experience do not matter. I had a buyer tell me he choose his agent because they were really nice. Nice is a good thing but I wish this buyer had said really knowledgeable. Wish it weren’t so, but it is.