Alphabet Soup - What Do These Real Estate Designations Mean?

Posted by Duane Duggan on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 at 11:24am.

Duane Duggan is an award-winner Realtor and author of the book, “Realtor for Life.”

When searching for a real estate agent, you often come across their list of credentials including designations and certifications. Real estate designations are a jumble of letters that seem to have little or no meaning. However, they do in fact represent a higher level of education and knowledge, expertise, and professionalism. It is important that you become familiar with what these letters mean so you can find the right real estate agent qualified to serve your needs.


All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties in a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate

Accredited Buyer Representative ABR

The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, the nation’s oldest and largest association of real estate practitioners addressing all aspects of consumer representation in the real estate transaction, has established this designation as a criterion for excellence in buyer representation. To attain this designation, agents must complete extensive classroom program on buyer agency practices and procedures, pass an exam and submit evidence of practical experience as a buyer’s representative.

Certified Residential Specialist CRS

Less than 2% of all REALTORS® have earned the CRS designation, which is granted by the Residential Sales Council of the REALTORS® National Marketing Institute. In order to obtain this designation, an agent must have: 1) demonstrated sales performance through millions of dollars of closed real estate transactions; 2) successfully completed advanced national listing and sales courses; 3) subscribed to a Code of Ethical Conduct.

Certified International Property Specialist CIPS

(CIPS) are individuals who have proven their expertise in the international real estate practice. The CIPS Network is comprised of 1,300 real estate professionals who deal in all types of real estate, but with one common element: they are focused specifically on the "international" market. Whether assisting foreign investors, helping local buyers invest abroad, or serving an immigrant niche in local markets, CIPS are consumers' best resource to ensure they are dealing with a professional skilled in the unique aspects of international real estate.

Certified Relocation Professional CRP

The CRP designation is granted by the Employee Relocation Council to those individuals who have demonstrated significant knowledge and expertise in all aspects of corporate relocation. Applicants must complete and pass a rigorous course of study and must have at least 2 years of relocation experience.

Certified New Home Sales Professional CSP

The CSP designation is granted by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Sales & Marketing Council to those members who have completed and passed a comprehensive course and exam on “New Home Sales Techniques”. This designation is the only national designation specifically designed for new home sales people, and requires the designee to be knowledgeable about the many factors and forces that influence new home sales.

Graduate, REALTORS® Institute GRI

The GRI designation is granted by the National Association of REALTORS® and the Colorado Association of REALTORS® to those members who have successfully completed the Colorado Real Estate Certificate Courses and fulfilled other educational requirements related to real estate sales and marketing.

Certified Distressed Property Expert CDPE

A Certified Distressed Property Expert is a real estate professional with specific understanding of the complex issues confronting the real estate industry, and the foreclosure avoidance options available to homeowners. Through comprehensive training and experience, CDPEs are able to provide solutions for homeowners facing hardships in today’s market, specifically short sales.

Seniors Real Estate Specialist SRES

SRES professionals are dedicated to serving the real estate needs of the seniors ages 50+. The SRES® designee is knowledgeable in the characteristics and trends related to the 50+ population including: housing, finance, and retirement income considerations; medical considerations; outreach methods; and counseling strategies to help clients plan ahead for life transitions. It is a course designed and conferred by the Center for Specialized REALTOR® (CSRE) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource SFR

This designation allows agents the ability to direct distressed sellers to finance, tax, and legal professionals. It also helps agents to have an understanding for what it takes for sellers to qualify for a short sale and how to go about developing a complete short sale package. Agents are given the tools it takes to negotiate with lenders and help to streamline the short sale process.

To learn more about real estate designations and certifications, visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® website:

*Photo courtesy of Jason Leung on



About Duane Duggan: Duane Duggan has been a Realtor® for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, REALTOR® for Life. Also see his video podcasts about real estate topics on RE/MAX of Boulder’s YouTube channel.

For questions, email Duane at or call 303-441-5611


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