Earning a certification in real estate can help you specialize in a certain niche and set yourself apart from the competition. Regardless of your real estate background and experience, getting certified can have a direct impact on your reputation and success. Earning a real estate certification is a valuable career step, but it requires study and dedication.
In this article, we discuss what real estate certifications are and list some of the most popular ones.
A certification in real estate may help you gain new clients by verifying your knowledge and expertise in the industry.
You can earn certifications in specific areas of real estate, including residential property sales, luxury homes, property management and sustainable practices.
Most certification programs require you to have experience as a licensed real estate agent, complete training courses and pass an exam.
What is a certification in real estate?
Real estate certifications and designations are ways in which real estate professionals can demonstrate their credentials and show expertise in specific areas of the real estate industry. They are issued by various real estate organizations and act as proof that the real estate professional has extensive knowledge in all aspects of a real estate niche. As someone looking to grow their real estate career, earning a real estate certification can help you enhance your reputation and therefore have better odds of attracting clients.
Top real estate certifications
These are 15 of the most popular certifications for real estate professionals.
1. Certified Residential Specialist
The Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) certification is designed for real estate professionals who want to showcase their specialization in residential property sales. It is available for members of the Residential Real Estate Council, an organization that was established in 1976 to provide real estate brokers and agents with resources and tools for advancing their professional education.
There are two ways to apply for the CRS certification:
The 60/30/30 Program: It requires applicants to have completed at least 60 transactions or $30 million in volume over the previous five years and also includes 30 hours of training courses.
The Pro program: It requires applicants to have at least 10 years of experience as licensed real estate agents, as well as over 100 transactions or at least 40 transactions with an average of over $1 million per year. It also includes 16 hours of training courses.
2. Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist
This certification is aimed at real estate professionals who want to show their expertise in the residential luxury home market. The Institute for Luxury Home marketing offers it and those who want to earn it must first register to become an active member.
Applicants need to complete a luxury home marketing training program on the institute’s website and show that they have closed at least three separate real estate transactions within a 24-month period at rates that are above a certain threshold, which varies depending on each property’s geographical location. The three properties can be in different locations, however.
3. Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist
This certification is for real estate agents and brokers who specialize in buying, selling and managing vacation homes and properties bought for investment purposes. The National Association of Realtors offers it and those who want to earn the certification first need to become members by joining a local association.
The next step is completing a one-day Resort & Second-Home Specialist (RSPS) certification course, either in-person or online. Those who complete the online course must also take an exam and score at least 80 percent to earn the certification.
4. Certified Commercial Investment Member
Becoming a Certified Commercial Investment Member shows your expertise as an agent or broker specialized in commercial real estate. The institution issuing it has the same name as the certification and earning it can help you gain access to new opportunities within the commercial niche. The requirements for earning it are:
Education: Candidates must complete four courses: an online ethics course, negotiation training and two additional courses from the Ward Center for Real Estate Studies.
Portfolio: Candidates must show one of the three: at least three transactions totaling $30 million or more, exactly ten transactions totaling $10 million or more or 20 transactions irrespective of their value.
Exam: Candidates must pass a full-day exam that evaluates their knowledge regarding the four educational courses.
5. Certified Property Manager
The Certified Property Manager course is a way to prove you are a property management expert. The Institute of Real Estate Management issues it and it’s typically aimed at high-ranking real estate professionals, such as agency partners, directors and owners. Aside from showing expertise and integrity, the certification also helps applicants get up to date on real estate trends and property management skills. Candidates must meet these requirements:
Be a member of the National Association of Realtors.
Attend at least two events or meetings hosted by the Institute of Real Estate Management within a year of applying.
Complete an interview with a local branch of the institute.
Spend a year as a candidate and take specific management and ethic courses.
Provide three professional reference letters and proof of at least three years of property management experience.
Pass the certification exam.
6. Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager
This certification is offered by the Real Estate Business Institute for experienced real estate professionals that want to enhance their expertise and credentials. It is a highly exclusive course, with only 3 percent of Realtors being eligible to take it.
There is no exam required for earning this certification, but candidates must prove that they have at least one year of real estate management experience, which includes managing a team, office or personal assistant. Educational requirements include completing three of the nine available real estate brokerage courses, either online or in person. Candidates must also have two of the following:
A bachelor degree
More than five years of management experience
Any of these credentials offered by the National Association of Realtors: ABR, GRI, PMN, RENE, SIOR, SRS, ALC, ABRM, CCIM, CIPS, CPM, CRS
Candidates who don’t have any of these can still qualify by completing additional real estate brokerage courses.
7. Accredited Buyer’s Representative
This certification is for agents who want to gain expertise and reputation in representing home buyers. The National Association of Realtors offers it and candidates must meet the following requirements within a time period of three years:
Successfully complete the two-day Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation course and passing the final exam with a score of at least 80 percent.
Successfully complete one of their other courses, either online or in-person, also with a score of at least 80 percent.
Have at least five closed transactions in which they were the buyer’s sole representative, either before taking the designation course or in the three years after that.
Be an active and reputable member of both the National Association of Realtors and the Estate Buyer’s Agent Council.
8. Seller Representative Specialist
This certification is aimed at agents who want to demonstrate their expertise in representing clients who wish to sell a property. The Real Estate Business Institute offers it and it shows that the candidates has the necessary skills to maximize a property’s selling price and make all elements of the sale as easy as possible for the seller. Earning the seller representative specialist certification requires these steps:
Being a member of the National Association of Realtors
Demonstrating that you have solely represented owners in at least three separate completed transactions
Completing the seller representative specialist designation course
Completing one other elective course
9. Accredited Land Consultant
This certification is for real estate professionals who specialize in offering consultancy in land transactions. The National Association of Realtors offers it and provides successful candidates with enhanced expertise and reputation in the land niche. The steps required for earning this certification are:
Having a real estate license and at least two years of experience in land transactions or three years in other similar real estate fields
Being a member of the National Association of Realtors
Having a portfolio that shows land brokerage accomplishments
Providing two letters of recommendation: one from an Accredited Land Consultant and the other from a local or state board, certifying that the candidate is a good standing member
Completing 104 course hours related to land transactions
Taking an online exam with questions deriving from the courses and scoring at least 70 percent
10. Real Estate Negotiation Expert
This certification is for real estate professionals who want to showcase and improve their negotiation skills and techniques. The National Association of Realtors offers it and it’s only available to licensed members. Candidates only need to complete a two-day course to earn this certification and there is no exam requirement.
11. Military Relocation Professional
This certification is designed for real estate professionals who work with members of the U.S. armed forces. Completing it showcases your expertise in dealing with the unique situations that army families face during relocations and it’s especially important for agents and brokers who operate in a geographical area that’s close to a military facility.
The National Association of Realtors offers it and it’s available for members in good standing. Candidates also need to take a one-day core course, either in-person or online, and complete two webinars: “Bringing Military Families Home with MILLIE” and “Understanding VA Home Loans with David Piatek”.
12. Seniors Real Estate Specialist
This real estate certification is for agents and brokers who specialize in working with senior citizens on real estate transactions. Its purpose is to show potential clients over the age of 50 that the candidate knows how to adapt to their special preferences and needs. The National Association of Realtors offers it and candidates have to be members. There’s no exam required, with candidates only having to complete a special designation course that teaches them specific information regarding real estate transactions that involve senior citizens.
13. Green Designation
The National Association of Realtors’ Green Designation helps real estate professionals educate themselves regarding energy efficiency and sustainability practices. Earning it involves taking two courses, available either online or in-person:
Green Day 1: The Resource-Efficient Home – Retrofits, Remodels, Renovations, and New Home Construction
Green Day 2: Representing Buyers & Sellers of Resource-Efficient Homes
Candidates who took the two courses online must also pass an exam with a score of at least 80 percent
14. At Home with Diversity
This certification helps real estate professionals earn expertise in working with all cultural groups. The National Association of Realtors offers it and candidates need to attend a one-day course in person, or a course lasting six to eight hours online. The course’s main two objectives are increasing awareness of the cultural and social constituencies of local markets and providing participants with the skills and tools they need to service all social groups equally.
15. Graduate, Realtor Institute Designation
This certification is aimed at real estate professionals who want to improve their expertise in various technical aspects of the industry, such as legal issues, regulatory issues and technological updates. It is available to members of the National Association of Realtors and is typically different from state to state. Candidates must go through at least 60 hours of specific courses, covering areas like real estate systems and tools, business skills and market knowledge.