Are credentials alphabet soup or competitive edge?

'Consumers have a choice... agents have to stand out.'

SRES, ABR, BPOR: Strung together after a real estate agent’s name, such letters can look like alphabet soup or a puzzle game on a business card. More

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Focus: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Are credentials alphabet soup or competitive edge?

'Consumers have a choice... agents have to stand out.'

Posted 4/9/12

SRES, ABR, BPOR: Strung together after a real estate agent’s name, such letters can look like alphabet soup or a puzzle game on a business card.

But for Realtors like Sharon Moylan, NAR GREEN SRES CRP, there is a compelling reason for collecting acronyms.

“Education is power and in this particular environment, I think the more educated you are the better off you are,” said Moylan, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Barrington, about the ever-growing number of specialist designations in the real estate industry.

“These were aimed at things I specialize in and relate to my background in business and consulting,” said Moylan, whose credentials stand for expertise in eco-real estate, housing for seniors and relocation assistance. If a certain $1 million-plus listing sells, Moylan will also qualify for a premium property designation she has already done the coursework for.

Like many industries, as the real estate business has professionalized over time, designation and certification programs have proliferated, becoming an industry in their own right.

Along with specialist credentials for buyers or sellers, you can also get designations as an accredited land specialist (ALC), international-property specialist (CIPS) and certified brokerage manager (CRB).

The purpose of these designations, which require the completion of a variety of courses, is to keep real estate professionals up to date with the latest laws, trends and practices in their specialty.

For the right to boast the most-educated workforce, brokerages are willing to hire trainers to teach in-house classes while agents spend time and money in the hope that specialized training might give them an edge in a particular niche of the market.

But whether professional-development credentials actually drive sales or provide a business edge is open for debate.

“I think the consumer looks at the record [of the agent] and whether they are going to get the job done for them,” said John Hardnett, broker at Lila Delman Real Estate. “But the designations don’t hurt and their influence might continue to grow. That is why so many people are trying to get out in front.”

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