Taking the classes will take some time out of your day. With good time management skills, this shouldn’t be a big detractor from your business. It will need a financial and time commitment if you decide to pursue a designation. The costs can range from less than $100 to more than $1,000 (application fees, course fees, exam fees, renewal fees, etc.).
Consumers Might Not Know What They Are
Do real estate agents even know what most of the designations are? Do you know what ABR or SRES designations are? The ABR is an Accredited Buyer Representative, the SRES, Seniors Real Estate Specialist® designation, gives you the knowledge and expertise to guide homebuyers and sellers over the age of 50 through major financial and lifestyle transitions. It’s unlikely that consumers will know the difference between an ABR and SRES designation, so it’s up to you to explain them.
Help With Google Ranking
It will benefit you in the long run to have a page dedicated to your designation on your website. For example, if you have the CRS designation (Certified Residential Specialist) you can have a page dedicated to what the means for your prospective real estate client. If you have the GREEN designation, the copy you write can help attract millennial homebuyers looking for an eco-friendly real estate agent.
Grows Your Knowledge
There is something that can never be taken away from you, and that is the knowledge you acquire from earning a real estate designation. You can always learn things on your own in this age of the internet and YouTube.
However, to follow a curriculum with concentrated–and accurate–information will be more effective. You don’t have to waste time doing your own research, and learn from others who were once in your position.
This knowledge directly benefits your real estate clients. The designation isn’t for bragging rights, it’s to improve the customer experience.
Increases Your Network
Some designations will offer a community that you can tap into. For example, the CRS designation will hold conferences, and you’ll have access to a wide network of agents that can give you referrals, because home buyers are always looking to relocate.
“The upside of doing a designation course is the additional education that shows you’re a specialist. This would be someone who, say, deals in commercial or specifically with seniors,” says Barbara Goldberg, a longtime agent who’s in the process of getting a broker’s license. “The downside is that it costs money.”
The cost of the designations may be a deterrent to some REALTORS®, because they can run more than $1,000 just in class fees alone. For example, the Certified Residential Specialist requires 16 credit hours, plus a $99 application fee and a yearly renewal for $195. The Green designation (energy efficiency and sustainability) is much less, requiring only two classes ($149 each, or $250 as a bundle), there are no application or exam fees; and renewals are $98.50 after the first year.
“You get the education, the networking and mentorship,” said one homebuyer. “I had knowledge of what the designation was and how they can use their network to help their client, and I wanted to rely on someone’s expertise for what we needed. She was great.”
Some of the more popular designations among CVAR members include CRS, SRES and GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute).
“But you pay for the classes and the certificate,” said the executive, “and then you have to re-certify every year or every two years, and that means more money.
So designations may not be for everyone.
“They’re not for people who want a short and easy career,” said one association executive. “If you’re in it for the long haul, it can be a valuable addition to your marketing materials.
“You have to say to yourself, how many people are going to ask for a particular kind of an agent? It would be well worth it if people are looking for a REALTOR® with that accreditation.”
Ultimately, whether it comes from year of experience or classroom education, knowledge is power.