What do all those real estate designations mean and why do I care?
Real estate agents are a dime a dozen so how do you know you're getting a quality agent? Take a look at the certifications and associations they are a part of. Most of the time you can't add those letters to the end of your name by simply paying a fee. These designations require additional education upfront along with continued education to maintain. Here are a few common ones that will give you some insight into your agent:
National Association of REALTOR® (NAR): The term "REALTOR" identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTOR® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. To become a NAR member, you must find a local association of REALTORS® in your area and join. NAR is a fee based organization that requires you to uphold their very strict code of ethics.
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR): The ABR designation is designed for real estate buyer's agents who primarily focus on working directly with buyer clients. This designation is considered the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. To carry this designation, agents must first complete a two day course including an 80% passing grade on the final exam. Upon successful completion of this first course, agents have three years to complete an ABR elective course including an 80% final exam passing grade, complete five transactions solely as a buyer's representative, and finally, maintain active and good membership status in the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC) and the National Association of REALTOR®.
Graduate REALTOR Institute (GRI): The GRI designation represents a REALTOR® who has taken professional training to the next level and gained in-depth knowledge on technical subjects as well as the fundamentals of real estate. This designation does not come easy. A REALTOR must complete a minimum of 60 hours of coursework following a curriculum set specific to each state. Subjects covered generally include market knowledge, business skills, systems and tools, and avoiding setbacks, fines, and lawsuits.
Accredited Staging Professional (ASP): "Home Staging is NOT decorating, fluffing, interior design or redesign! Home Staging IS detailing, decluttering, depersonalizing and preparing a seller's home to give it a "model home" appearance so that the potential buyer can "see" themselves living in the home." ~Staged Homes Agents with the ASP designation have successfully completed a three day training course. If your agent holds this designation, you're very luck. Home staging services are in high demand and most people pay a home staging professional to stage their home to go on the market.