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REALTOR® Designations: Hype or Help?

GRI, CIPS, CRS, ALHS, ABR……… What do you really think when you see these designations attached to a REALTOR®’s name? How many times have you rolled your eyes when reading an email or viewing a business card from your fellow REALTOR®? Be honest. Some of you probably have some snide thoughts… “Show Off!! Does he or she have enough room on this card for these designations?”

Look, don’t feel bad. I used to feel the same way. That is until I discovered how these amazing designations have taken my business to new levels. Don’t get me wrong. I am not just talking about the acronyms attached at the end of a name. I am referring to the knowledge, confidence and empowerment I have earned by acquiring them.

So, are you truly aware of what these designations mean and how partnering with one of these professionals can actually enhance and build your business?

A Story I Heard
There was a man who woke up one morning with a common cold. He calls his doctor who, in turn, prescribes some medicine for the cold. Within a few days, the man begins to feel better and goes on about his business. A few months later, the same man is awakened by a very sharp pain in his chest. He decides to call his doctor again, hoping that it will be a very simple fix, just like the cold. After the doctor’s prognosis, the doctor sadly informs the man that he experienced a mild heart attack and needs a heart transplant. The doctor pauses and waits for the news to sink in. At this point, the man is sad and asks the doctor what it would take to make the problem go away. The doctor then proceeds to inform him that although heart surgery is not his specialty, he would be willing to perform the procedure at a discounted fee. The man, without hesitation, thanks the doctor, but declines his offer and asks him to recommend an expert heart surgeon because he feels that a procedure this important must be performed by an expert in that field.

I am sure by now that you get my point. Professionals and experts are called that for a reason. The education received from the courses taken gives one the confidence and knowledge needed when representing a client. It indicates that you have taken the time to study and understand your craft. It creates a mind shift that gives you permission to demand your desired commission without feeling like you have to give a discount for your services.

According to the 2010 NAR survey, 53 percent of REALTORS® who earned more than $150K have designations and will most likely remain in the business over the next two years.

In today’s competitive market, the designation courses available to REALTORS® provide the knowledge and expertise that could take your business to new levels and may also mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful real estate transaction.

For example, you are contacted by a potential client seeking an energy-efficient and Green certified home. NAR’s Green Designation/GREEN provides advanced training in green building and sustainable business practices so that REALTORS® can seek out, understand and market properties with Green features. A REALTOR® who is GREEN certified and working with buyers looking for these types of properties will immediately be able to identify features like a tankless water heater and its benefits; he or she may even be able to speak very fluently to this potential client about other green and energy-efficient features the client may not be aware of. On the other hand, a REALTOR® who has never been exposed to this training may be clueless about Green home features, might appear less knowledgeable to this client, and end up being passed over for the job.

In the case of sellers looking to hire a REALTOR® to market their property, an effective strategy might be to market your GRI designation by educating your clients about the benefits of hiring a GRI-designated REALTOR®. The GRI —Graduate REALTOR® Institute—is an extensive program that trains REALTORS® in specific courses totaling a minimum of 90 hours. Subjects covered include the Sales Process, Legal and Regulatory, Technology and Professional Standards. The Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) states that REALTORS® with a GRI designation are perceived as having made a commitment to provide a higher level of professional service.

What does all this mean to you? As a designated REALTOR®, you have placed yourself and your business at an elevated level. Very simply put, you are demonstrating to your clients that working with a REALTOR® with the appropriate designation is like working with a first-rate heart surgeon who understands the business and can immediately pin-point areas of improvement, leading to increased profit for your business.

Build Your Brand. Expand Your Network.
I mentioned earlier that being a REALTOR® with a professional designation could take your business to new heights. Here is how: REALTORS® with qualified designations have access to other REALTORS® across the country with similar qualifications. This network becomes a strong source of the referral opportunities for you. When a REALTOR® in California wants to refer a client moving to your area, he or she would feel more than confident sending that client your way because you both possess the same superior level of training.

This network also serves as a very powerful marketing tool because you can inform your clients that their homes will also be marketed to these individuals.This means that your network becomes your client’s network. How is that for winning a listing presentation? Priceless!

What Next…
There are several types of designations available. For a list and descriptions, visit http://www.har.com/membertraining/dispREDesignation.cfm. The goal is to identify one that best fits you and your business. If you are currently interested in marketing luxury homes, then an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS) Designation may be your best fit. If you currently work in or are interested in working with International clients, then a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS®) Designation should be considered. If you market the traditional real estate product and need to be well-versed in all aspects of the real estate transaction, then a GRI could be the best solution.

In conclusion, designations are an important part of your real estate business. However, this should not take the place of experience, integrity and a proven track record. These items together make for a very powerful combination that will always put you ahead of the curve.

So, when you get handed that business card with the many designations and accolades, pause to take a second look. You just might be looking at your next business success partner.

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