If you’re not in the real estate profession, it’s possible the jumble of letters following my name (ABR, SRES, GRI) don’t mean anything to you, so I thought I’d shed a little light on that for anyone who is curious.
As part of maintaining an active license, Realtors in Texas are required by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), which is the state agency governing real estate practices in Texas, to take a certain amount of continuing education credits with every renewal, making sure we stay up to date with changes on a local or national level as pertains to our industry — changes to laws, regulations, new or updated forms, best practices, industry trends, etc. In addition to that we can earn designations in specialized areas of real estate which might serve to enhance our own business in a particular niche market, or just generally add to our overall wealth of knowledge about our profession on the whole.
The ABR® designation stands for Accredited Buyer Representative and is considered is the “benchmark of excellence in buyer representation,” according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “This coveted designation demonstrates to peers and consumers your commitment to providing outstanding service for real estate buyers.” I work with a lot of buyers, many of them first-time home buyers, and my goal has been to provide exactly that level of outstanding service that this accreditation was designed for.
The SRES® designation is for Seniors Real Estate Specialist and is designed to help Realtors “meet the special needs of maturing Americans when selling, buying, relocating, or refinancing residential or investment properties,” according to NAR. “By earning the SRES designation, Realtors are prepared to approach mature clients with the best options and information for them to make life-changing decisions.” Having witnessed firsthand some of the unique challenges faced by the over-50 crowd (of which I myself am a member), I have found earning this designation to be invaluable in understanding and serving their needs as my clients.
The GRI designation identifies me as a Graduate, REALTOR® Institute and is the nationally recognized “mark of a real estate professional who has made the commitment to provide a high level of professional services by securing a strong educational foundation,” as explained by the National Association of Realtors. Ninety hours of in-depth coursework is required, making the GRI designee truly a master of our profession. Less than 10% of Realtors nationally will earn the GRI.
REALTOR or Real Estate Agent?
I find there is some confusion in the general public about the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR® (though I am a REALTOR I will sometimes refer to myself as an agent or as a real estate professional so I am definitely part of the problem when it comes to creating said confusion), but these actually aren’t interchangeable terms. While both agents and Realtors are licensed by the state, only Realtors are active members of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), which is the largest trade association in the United States, and we are bound by its very strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. According to NAR, “Part of the incentive for becoming a Realtor is to capitalize on the good reputation of NAR members. The idea is that consumers will opt to work with a real estate agent who has sworn to treat all parties fairly and honestly.”