REAL ESTATE CERTIFICATION: Top 10 Picks & How To Obtain Them

Real estate certification
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In a few months, you can become a licensed real estate agent. While that brief ramp-up may be appealing to you, you can bet it is also appealing to many others in your city. These individuals will become your competitors. Try enticing clients with your sophisticated skills to stand out. Earning your real estate agent certification can show the market that you’ve mastered your craft. With a real estate certification, you can not only progress in your profession but also specialize in a field that interests you. We have compiled a list of the 10 best certifications for a real estate agent and how you can obtain them online. We have also outlined the cost of each of them to help you plan on how to obtain the real estate certification.

What is a Real Estate Certification?

Real estate certifications and designations allow real estate professionals to demonstrate their credentials and exhibit experience in specific areas of the real estate market. They are granted by numerous real estate organizations and serve as proof that a real estate expert is well-versed in all facets of a certain real estate speciality. Earning a real estate certification will help you improve your reputation and thus increase your chances of gaining clients if you are trying to advance your real estate agent career.

Top 10 Real Estate Designations and Certifications

#1. Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

As a member of the Residential Real Estate Council, the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) title offers you with a foundation in education and experience. This real estate certification provides agents with methods and access to the council’s online and print dictionaries. Agents will also benefit from preferred member pricing at RRC events and local networking through their state RRC association. This will help them improve their reputation, gain a competitive advantage, and create leads.

Members also receive up to a 50% discount on most RRC education, a free subscription to Inman Select News, and free mobile customer relationship management (CRM) and lead creation tools. These will assist agents in increasing brand awareness and expanding their residential real estate company.

How to Become a CRS:

To become a CRS, join the RRC and choose between the 60/30/30 Program and the Pro Program. Applicants for the Pro Program must have 16 hours of RRC education, 10 or more years of experience as a licensed agent, and a total of 150 transactions, or an average of $1 million in sales per year with at least 40 transactions. To qualify for the 60/30/30 program, participants must have completed 30 hours of RRC education, 60 transactions, or $30 million in volume in the previous five years.

CRS Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • $99 one-time application fee
  • Annual membership fees are $195.

#2. Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR)

The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) accreditation provides real estate brokers who work directly with buyers with additional authority. This certification demonstrates your commitment to buyers, promotes you as a real estate agent negotiation specialist. It also ensures that your buyers receive high-quality assistance throughout the search and selection process. This title grants access to marketing tools, resources, networking, and referrals.

ABR provides essential real estate education, such as specialized material, workshops, and updates that keep you up to date on homebuyer issues and trends.

To qualify for your ABR, you must first join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). Then you must complete the two-day ABR course and earn at least 80% on the exam. Then, enroll in an ABR optional course and get at least 80% on the final test. After that, you must conduct five transactions as the buyer’s agent (no dual agency permitted).

ABR Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • ABR Designation Course: $236 for members, $472 for non-members
  • Elective Courses: Members pay $92 and non-members pay $184.
  • REBAC dues: REBAC membership is free for the first year. However, for the second year, you will pay $110, which will be prorated based on the month you joined REBAC.

#3. Certified Commercial Investment Professional (CCIM)

For realtors who desire to specialize in commercial real estate, earning your Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) accreditation is a distinct advantage. The real estate agent certification procedure ensures that CCIMs are proficient in both commercial transaction theory and practice. This category of CCIMs includes brokers, leasing specialists, investment counselors, asset managers, appraisers, property managers, developers, institutional investors, commercial lenders, and other related professions.

CCIM members have access to a network of 13,000 members in the United States and throughout the world, as well as exclusive savings on CCIM courses. It also provides real estate tools, tuition reductions, email with Google G Suite, deal sharing, pre-designed spreadsheet templates, CCIM company forms, and an excel CCIM financial calculator.

To qualify for your CCIM, you must complete the education components such as the two-day Course Concepts Review (CCR) and six-hour Comprehensive Exam, as well as pass the final exam with at least 70%. (coursework includes three different classes). You should also have at least two years of experience in commercial real estate. Then, submit a portfolio of relevant experience (except for Fast Track students).

CCIM Real Estate Certification Cost:

Annual CCIM Institute membership dues:

  • US professionals will pay $650.
  • Membership in the United States costs $600 with a government discount.
  • Membership in Canada costs $420.
  • International membership is $195.
  • The cost of required courses begins at $150.
  • Submission Fee for Qualifying Experience Portfolio: $175
  • Comprehensive Exam and Review of Course Concepts (CCR)
  • The Course Concepts Review is $810. (CCR)
  • The Comprehensive Exam costs $380.

#4. Certified Property Manager (CPM)

The Institute of Real Estate Management offers the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation (IREM). Real estate professionals such as brokers, building owners, and investors can use the CPM certification to manage properties more ethically and successfully. Being a CPM also ensures investors that you understand rental property management and how to enhance the value of their homes.

Furthermore, CPM allows you to advance in your career because more than half of CPMs hold senior-level management roles. CPM will also assist you in expanding your network by creating business connections, meeting potential employees or employers, and consulting with other professionals.

To qualify, candidates must have three years of qualifying real estate management experience, complete eight CPM certification courses, and pass the CPM Capstone. Aside from these qualifications, all CPM candidates must have 36 months of qualified real estate management experience, including portfolio requirements. Attend at least two IREM chapter events and join NAR as an institute affiliate member.

CPM Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • The typical cost to earn the CPM is between $7,500 and $8,500.
  • Tuition for the eight CPM courses and the CPM Capstone is $5,800.
  • The annual charge is $850, which covers CPM candidate, chapter, and NAR Institute Affiliate dues (chapter dues vary based on location)
  • Fees for enrollment, graduation, and additional services: $635

#5. Accredited Land Consultant (ALC)

Accredited Land Consultant is another certification offered to NAR members (ALC). ALCs are the most accomplished, experienced, and knowledgeable land professionals. This certification demonstrates to clients that you are an expert in land-related real estate transactions. ALC also connects agents to a network of ALC designees who work to develop and share expertise, foster trusted relationships, and expand business prospects.

Candidates must have a current real estate license and at least two years of experience in land sales or brokerage to become an ALC. Candidates can also demonstrate that they have at least three years of relevant real estate experience.

Real estate professionals must also complete 104 course hours through the Realtors Land Institute’s LAND University (LANDU) program. This includes 48 elective course hours and 56 mandatory course hours. Applicants must pass a final test with a 70% or higher after completing the necessary program.

ALC Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • The exam costs $100. includes two tries
  • 16-hour courses are $445 per member, with the exception of the Land Investment Analysis course, which is $545.
  • The initial cost of designation is $350, which must be submitted with the ALC designation application.
  • ALC annual dues are $445.
  • Reinstatement fee for lapsed designation: $350 is assessed if a member’s membership with the Institute has been inactive for more than three years and the member wishes to rejoin.

#6. Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (C-RETS)

The Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (C-RETS) certification is ideal for team leaders and real estate professionals wishing to establish a team. The C-RETS certification is the first and only team certificate recognized by the NAR. The C-RETS program is appropriate for agents who want to increase their team development, individual leadership abilities, and financial performance. With the C-RETS certification, you can also fast-track your Certified Real Estate Brokerage (CRB) credential.

The C-RETS courses give the tools, methods, and information required by today’s real estate professionals who are considering or working in a team environment. It develops agents’ leadership abilities by teaching them on the significance of continual and effective communication within the team, as well as supporting and fostering your team’s growth for greater teamwork, service, developing and sustaining successful enterprises, and optimizing success.

To become a C-RETS, you must finish at least two of the available C-RETS courses. You are able to select courses based on your learning requirements. You must also keep your NAR membership active. In terms of the exam, C-RETS does not require agents to have any exam qualifications in order to be certified.

C-RETS Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • $159 one-time application fee

#7. Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)

The Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) certification is intended for real estate agents from the United States and throughout the world, as well as association employees and volunteer leaders, who want to create or expand their international real estate business. It will provide sales agents with the information, skills, and network they need to negotiate and close the final sales deal with these global audiences.

CIPS, for example, offers marketing options such as listing in the online directory “Find a CIPS,” customisable print postcards, web banner ads, press releases, and member-only online forums. These enable sales representatives to grow from the inside out, allowing them to capture their customers’ attention and eventually convert them into potential purchasers.

To become a CIPS, follow these steps:

To get your CIPS, you must finish the core courses “Global Real Estate: Local Markets” and “Global Real Estate: Transaction Tools,” as well as three elective courses. Following completion of the courses, you must complete and submit the US CIPS application. You must earn 100 points on the application form to demonstrate that you have the relevant experience to hold this certification. Finally, you must be an active NAR member.

CIPS Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • $75 one-time application fee
  • Dues for annual membership and new trainees: Depending on when you applied, $220 is prorated quarterly.

#8. Green Designation by NAR

The Green Designation from the NAR is meant for real estate professionals who wish to learn more about energy efficiency and sustainability issues. This real estate agent certification informs brokers about green homes that are sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly, or constructed using recycled building materials. It will also teach brokers how to advertise these homes differently than standard homes and position them as an experienced source of knowledge about green homes for prospective clients.

GREEN gives agents access to members-only marketing tools, information on selling green properties, and advice on how to engage with clients interested in various aspects of living green. It also gives you access to online Green directory listings, one-of-a-kind industry seminars, pre-written green content for your social media platforms, and marketing tools.

How to Obtain a Green NAR Designation:

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete two courses: Green Day 1 and 2, which are offered online or in a classroom setting.
  • Pass the final exam with an 80 percent or above.
  • After completing the needed courses and passing the final tests, submit an application form.
  • Join NAR and become an active member of NAR’s Green REsource Council.

Green Designation Cost:

  • Application and membership for the first year are free.
  • The annual charge for the following years is $98.50.

#9. Seniors Real Estate Expert (SRES)

The Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) distinction is one of the NAR affiliate designations that can help you stand out, since SRES-certified agents are better able to approach older clients with choices and knowledge while making life-changing decisions. You may cater to this specific clientele, whether they are downsizing, living on a fixed income, or want to be closer to family.

Realtors with the SRES certification get access to the online SRES member database and the members-only area of the SRES website, as well as consumer marketing materials, a quarterly newsletter, marketing letters, and scripts and concepts for addressing clients aged 50 and up.

To become an SRES, you must finish the two-day course, pass the final exam with an 80 percent or above, and be a NAR member in good standing with both the NAR and the SRES Council.

SRES Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • $295 for an online course
  • After the first year, annual dues are $99 per year.

#10. At Home With Diversity (AHWD)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers the At Home With Diversity (AHWD) certification, which teaches real estate professionals to be sensitive to diversity and to develop ground rules for functioning in multicultural markets. It shows you how to acquire the trust of possible vendors and customers from a wide range of cultural, ethnic, and other backgrounds. You’ll also learn how to develop a business strategy that reduces risk while effectively serving all clients equitably.

Additionally, AHWD certification provides awareness of the nuances of US fair housing regulations, business etiquette for certain cultures, an advantage in extending your firm to include overseas clients, credit toward the ABR and CIPS credentials, and as a task in the C2EX program. This course may also qualify for continuing education (CE) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) credit in some states.

How to Get an AHWD:

To obtain an AHWD real estate distinction, you must first finish the AHWD course, which can be done online or in a classroom. If you are doing the course online, you must pass the final test and maintain active NAR membership.

AHWD Real Estate Certification Cost:

  • $75 one-time application fee
  • Required courses: $99 for online courses; fees for in-person courses vary based on the provider.

Why Is Real Estate Certification Necessary?

Real estate certifications and designations are crucial because they educate and provide real estate professionals with the tools they need to assist customers in difficult housing situations and boost marketability. Agents and brokers can set themselves apart from the competition by presenting themselves to prospective buyers and sellers as specialists in these fields.

Rather than waiting for clients to come to you, getting realtor credentials will establish you as a well-known expert in a given real estate area. Choosing the right real estate specialization can also help you to build out a profitable niche and brand for yourself, as well as provide intensive training in legal and regulatory challenges, technology, professional standards, and sales processes.

Real Estate Certification FAQs

Is GRI designation worth it?

The Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) Designation is a fantastic way to expand your knowledge, impress customers, and boost your confidence in your real estate abilities.

How much do CA real estate agents make?

A California real estate agent’s average compensation is $99,575. The pay range, however, is wide, with the lowest earners earning $24,970 and the highest earners earning $123,700 each year.

How long does it take to get a real estate license in CA?

On average, it takes between five (5) and six (6) months to obtain a California real estate license, depending on how quickly you complete the 135 hours of pre-licensing courses and pass your licensing examination, how long it takes you to complete the application process and find a sponsoring broker, and how long it takes you to complete the application process.

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