It is a common misperception that realtors simply decide to become realtors -- that perhaps they are trained more or less through the apprentice method, shadowing and learning from a "elder" in the field before going out on their own. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
First, individuals entering the field of real estate must take a course approved in their state to qualify for a real estate license. In Texas this involves more than 200 hours of in-class instruction in legal fundamentals, contracts, mathematics, property management, appraisals, and a host of related topics.
Once licensed, there are a variety of professional designations and certifications a realtor may earn. The vast majority of realtors avail themselves of this advanced training and coursework. In addition, all local realtor's associations provide continuing education courses to keep their members abreast of changes in the law, in property transaction procedures, and other topics pertinent to their daily work with both buyers and sellers. MCE or mandatory continuing education is required (as the name implies) to continue to maintain one's state real estate license.
If you see letters behind a realtors name, but have no idea what they mean, some of the most common include (but are not limited to):
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR)
In order for a realtor to earn the ABR designation, they must complete a two-day Real Estate Buyer's Agents Council (REBAC) core course, the REBAC web-based course, instruction delivered via satellite television, and an elective. After passing a written exam, the candidate must also prove they have fulfilled the practical experience requirements and are a member in good standing of REBAC and of the National Association of REALTORS.
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
Fewer than 4 percent of realtors earn this certification, which is the highest that can be obtained by a sales associate. It has been in existence since 1977 and is based on a set of exacting requirements, including the completion of 75 transactions over a five-year period or the amassing of $25,000,000 in sales in five years.
Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI)
Realtors who work in the field of residential real estate can earn this designation. It represents a particularly substantial education program of 90 hours of course work on a range of topics from real estate law to marketing and property servicing.
e-Pro Internet Professional
This designation was created to help real estate professionals stay abreast of the rapidly changing technology applicable to their field. e-Pro certified realtors have learned out to best make use of an online presence, effectively work with email communication, create web-based marketing strategies, and handle such tools as PDAs, smart phones, and digital cameras.
Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Realtors with the SRES designation have received special training in working with clients age 50 years and older. They have targeted training in retirement income considerations effecting financing and the fine points of housing options in age-restricted and other special communities. They are also schooled in reverse mortgages, 401k accounts, pensions, and IRAs and the implications of all transactions as they relate to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.
Understand All Aspects of Your Realtor's Qualifications
Because your home may be listed for months or you may need that length of time to find just the right property to buy, you are entering into an intimate business relationship when you select a realtor. Most people choose a real estate professional based on word of mouth, which is a valid source. A good recommendation from someone who has worked with the realtor and enjoyed a good experience is worth its weight in gold.
At the same time, the more you understand your realtor's qualifications, the more you will trust their advice and guidance in both buying and selling property. Never hesitate to ask your realtor for:
- References. If one word-of-mouth recommendation is good, several are better and will give you even more peace of mind.
- Properties bought and sold. You'll want to know the kinds of properties with which your realtor has worked on each side of the transaction. This will also give you a sense of the parts of the community in which they have worked most extensively.
- Resume. This should not only include professional job affiliations, but also certifications and designations earned. If you don't understand what those items mean, ask or go online and do some research.
Additionally, you may want to read a copy of the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics, a document adopted in 1913 and to which all professional realtors are bound. The important thing for you to understand is that you are working with an educated real estate professional who adheres to a code of behavior that emphasizes honesty and responsibility.
While all realtors will likely point to a mentor who "showed them the ropes" and helped them to learn the daily ins and outs of the business, real estate is not an apprentice-based business
nor is it one that can be entered into on a whim without proper training.
REALTORÂ® is a registered trademark of the National Association of Realtors.
article submitted on behalf of co-author Darrell Self.