Are you getting ready to sell or buy a property? Your experience will be smoother and less stressful with the right realtor by your side. However, with so many different qualifications out there, how do you know which realtor or brokerage has the right real estate designation for you?


This guide is a great one to bookmark if you are in the process of hiring a realtor, because we’re going to demystify common designations. By the end of today’s blog post, you’ll be able to identify qualified realtors with confidence! 


But first, what is a real estate designation?


As you visit the websites for different brokerages, you may notice the trail of letters behind many realtors’ names and wonder what those letters mean. Well, here it is: each set of letters stands for a specific designation (or sometimes, a certification) that realtor has earned.


Real estate designations and certifications are special credentials earned through hours of professional development coursework. While more designations means more education and expertise, it may be helpful to know WHICH designations could be most helpful to your situation, especially if you have a special interest involved.


GRI—Graduate, Realtor Institute


Realtors earn their GRI designation through the state they operate in. In Ohio, two thirty-hour courses cover everything from ethics to construction, fair housing, negotiating tactics, and marketing strategies. By the end of the GRI process, realtors are fully equipped to navigate the complex business of real estate, as well as advise and advocate for their clients in more powerful, effective ways.


For Realtors:

A GRI designation may also translate to more earnings. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the median income of GRI designees was almost double that of non-designees in 2012! If you’re looking for designations to pursue, this one definitely belongs on your list.


ABR—Accredited Buyer’s Representative


Home buyers will benefit from a realtor with an ABR designation. These realtors understand how to walk buyers through the process of finding the right property for their needs, as well as negotiating agreeable terms. They’re also well versed in different loan programs and highly value the privacy of their clients. This real estate designation prepares qualified realtors to be an indispensable resource to their clients from the first day they meet until the day they close on the property of their dreams!


For Realtors:

The ABR designation will prepare you for all the behind-the-scenes tasks involved in the buying process. It will also give you insight on marketing yourself, including some helpful info about setting up a professional website.


PSA—Pricing Strategy Advisor


Home value is an ever-changing topic that causes many first time sellers anxiety when they try to navigate it alone. PSA-certified realtors know how to estimate a property’s current value through what is called a comparative market analysis (CMA). Rather than taking a quick glance at a few recent sales nearby, they know how to look in depth at which properties are truly comparable to the one in question. They can also identify other factors that may influence the sale of a specific property.


A targeted listing price can avoid hangups in the selling process that a seller alone may not have known to plan for. So working with a realtor who has earned the PSA certification could actually save you money!


For Realtors:

A PSA certification will not only increase your comfort level as you evaluate pricing for clients, but it will teach you important terminology and how to work with appraisers. This is all valuable information you’ll be glad to have every time you pick up a new listing.


C2EX—REALTORS® Commitment to Excellence


This one is not a real estate designation or a certification, but an endorsement from the National Association of REALTORS®, which should speak volumes! Participation in this program is a sign of a high level of professionalism and dedication. It’s also an ongoing commitment. As technology advances and industry standards change, C2EX realtors continue to engage with the program to stay sharp in a quickly evolving field.


For Realtors:

This endorsement program is no additional cost to you and it now satisfies the Code of Ethics training requirement! 


SRS—Seller Representative Specialist


This is another great designation for realtors who work directly with sellers. The course goes beyond walking sellers through the process and teaches how to enhance the whole experience. It also covers a wealth of professional knowledge to realtors, including state license laws and the Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. All things you want your realtor to know like the back of their hand!


For Realtors:

The SRS designation course will also teach you how to grow your business and communicate your value clearly to sellers. You’ll be included in the “Find an SRS” online directory, which anyone can access…including other realtors who might have a referral for you.


RENE—Real Estate Negotiation Expert


Want a realtor with razor-sharp negotiation skills? The RENE certification trains realtors in getting the best deal possible. It also equips them to work with different personality types in the sometimes-tense process of buying or selling a home. If you find yourself working with a challenging buyer or seller, you’ll be glad to have a realtor in your corner who can be equal parts savvy negotiator and tactful mediator.


For Realtors:

This certification includes strategies that will help you deal with difficult situations before they turn into outright problems—possibly saving a deal that might have fallen through otherwise!


CNE—Certified Negotiation Expert


This is another designation that shows your realtor has worked hard to develop strong negotiation skills. The CNE course covers different styles of negotiation, along with the psychology behind buying real estate and scientifically proven methods of persuasion. CNE-designated realtors can also take an advanced course to gain an MCNE (Master Certified Negotiation Expert) designation. 


For Realtors:

In addition to learning the theory of negotiation, this course offers the chance to actually practice your new skills in a low-pressure environment.




In an increasingly digital world, it’s important to choose a realtor who understands the latest technology affecting the industry. The e-PRO certification demonstrates that you realtor not only cares about offering their client every advantage in this fast-paced digital society, but that they are prepared to handle your private information carefully and responsibly.


For Realtors:

When you earn the e-PRO certification, clients can find you by searching the e-PRO website. You’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group where you can network with other e-PRO certified realtors!


SRES—Seniors Real Estate Specialist


Seniors can have a unique set of needs in their buying and selling journeys. The SRES designation course educates realtors about how best to serve mature clients as they sell, buy, and refinance properties. 


For Realtors:

This real estate designation prepares you to find the best options for mature buyers and sellers, and it also helps them to find you! With this designation behind your name, seniors who want to work with someone who truly understands their needs will know you can provide the services they’re looking for.


HMS—Home Measurement Specialist


Measuring residential square footage seems straightforward but can actually be quite tricky! A realtor who has HMS after their name can help you calculate the price per square foot of your home correctly and accurately. 


For Realtors:

An accurate square footage measurement can inform your comps and valuation process—so knowing how to do it correctly is vital to a smooth client experience!


CRB—Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager


If you see CRB after your realtor’s name, it probably means they are an owner, broker, or manager. This leadership-based real estate designation course teaches professional standards as well as strategies to encourage the best performance from their realtors. It also gives them important information about managing a brokerage, although the CRB designation doesn’t necessarily require a broker’s license.


For Realtors:

If you are already a broker or manager, this course will help you to raise your professional standards. If you are looking for a brokerage to join, this designation is a sign that the broker you are researching is invested in providing a professional, productive environment for their realtors!


CRS—Certified Residential Specialist


According to the National Association of REALTORS®, “the CRS designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers.” This designation is a sign of high quality, and it requires continuing education each year, as well as an annual dues payment.


For Realtors:

This real estate designation shows high standards and an ongoing commitment to the brokerage, so it’s a great sign if you’re looking for one to join.


C-RETS—Certified Real Estate Team Specialist


The last certification we’ll cover here revolves around strong team management skills. C-RETS certified realtors are both effective leaders and cooperative team members. Although the subject matter may not directly impact your dealings with a realtor, it allows things to run more smoothly behind the scenes, giving you a better experience overall.


For Realtors:

The tools covered in this certification course will help you navigate any challenges that could arise in a team environment, keeping collaborations positive and productive.


Are you looking for a realtor? Between our team members, every designation and certification on this list is covered! You can find the right realtor for your needs here. We’d love to work with you!


Looking to join the team? Here’s what it’s like to be a Flag City Realtor!