Buying a home is a complex process, and most of it involves an area of expertise that you do not have. That’s why smart homebuyers choose their real estate agent before they begin the process.  I’ve written a few articles on how to choose your agent. Now, I’d like to focus on the different designations between agents so you can hone down your search even further.

Before we get into specialized designations, it’s important to know the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. A REALTOR® is someone who is accredited through the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Members of the NAR are real estate professionals who abide by a strict code of ethics. Additionally, REALTORS® have to pass an ethics course every four years to remain certified.

If you see that an agent has the designation of REALTOR®, that means that they have undergone additional training to become a member of the NAR and adhere to their Code of Ethics.

Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR)
An agent with this designation can represent buyers as a buyer’s agent. This doesn’t mean that the agent works exclusively with buyers, but may chooses to work as both a buyer’s agent and listing agent.

Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI)
Agents with this designation have completed a minimum of 90-95 hours of coursework pertaining to the state that licensed them. Subjects include law, practice, taxes, and more. Additionally, the agent retains membership in the NAR and Realtor associations on a state and local level.

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
According to the NAR, a Certified Residential Specialist is the “highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers.” Simply put, a realtor who attains this designation has professional accomplishments in experience, ethics, and education.

Green Designation (GREEN)
Owning a green home has become a popular trend for environmentally-focused buyers. Agents who receive the GREEN Designation have received extensive training on green products and technologies, including Energy Star-rated windows and appliance, smart home tech, and the latest in efficient HVAC and lighting.

Certified Internet Professional (ePRO)
This NAR sponsored designation signifies an agent who knows how to leverage social media, the internet, and digital devices to their advantage.

Before you jump into any agreement with a real estate agent or REALTOR®, do your research. There are many different designations, each attached to a focused specialty that may be of personal importance during your home buying or selling process.

Source: NAR, Look for the Letters: How Real Estate Designations Help Homebuyers.