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Written By (Executive Director - Relocation Director, NYS Licensed Real Esta). Created on 01/15/2016.

ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES – I'm sure you've seen all this gibberish after the names of many a Realtor as you're searching online for someone to help you buy or sell a home.  So...what does it all mean, and does any of it have value to you, the consumer?

In order to earn a real estate license in NYS, the basic requirements are 75 hours of approved training classes for a salesperson, and an additional 45 hours to qualify for a broker's license, followed by successfully passing the required state exams.  After that, licensees must complete 22.5 hours of continuing education every 2 years in order to maintain their licensed status.

In addition to these minimum requirements, real estate licensees may choose to gain a more in-depth understanding and grasp of particular aspects of their business, so they can better serve all their clients, or perhaps development a niche specialty within the industry.  Some of these courses offer designations or certifications to agents so that consumers can easily identify the particular skills and training a licensee has acquired and select an agent to help them accordingly.

However, that only works if the consumer knows what all these acronyms mean!!  So here is a quick guide to some of the more common designations and certifications you may want to look for, depending on your needs.  Also know that some advanced training and education does not offer “initials” for the agents to put after their names, but may still be very valuable to the consumer.

ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative) – Agents specialize in all aspects of working with buyer-clients; they fully understand representation obligations, due diligence and negotiating strategies on behalf of buyers.

CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) – Agents focus on the critical aspects of international real estate transactions, and are tied in to a network of 2,000 professionals specializing in international referrals.

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) – Agents must complete advanced professional training and demonstrate outstanding professional achievement in guiding buyers & sellers through the residential sales process.

CSN (Certified Skilled Negotiator) – Agents get hands-on and active training to become expert negotiators for their clients.  Training includes advanced techniques, practical resources, and creating win-win negotiations.

ePRO – This certification program teaches agents to use the most advanced real estate technology to provide exceptional service to their clients.

Green (NAR's Green Designation) – Licensees receive education, resources and tools to help them find, understand, value and market properties with green features.

GRI (Graduate, REALTORS Institute) – Realtors earning this designation have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards, risk evaluation, and the sales process.

SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) – Realtors learn how to successfully and ethically serve the real estate needs of one of the fastest growing markets in real estate, clients age 50 .

This is NOT a complete list of every designation and certification available; there simply isn't room to include them all.  Also keep in mind that some designations are nationally or internationally recognized, while others are specific to an area, or even offered only to members of a specific company, group or franchise.  That doesn't minimize their value to the consumer.  Likewise, education, training or experience that does not offer any “initials” may be equally as valuable, so it's important to ask an agent you're working with or thinking of hiring what particular skills they have and how they will benefit YOU in your specific situation.

If you have questions about a designation or certification, either listed above or not, feel free to contact us anytime at [email protected], or by calling us at 914-961-5510.  We'll be happy to answer your questions and offer guidance or further resources.

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