Professional Designations in Real Estate

There was a blog post recently on realtor.ca discussing the 10 different REALTOR® designations and how they benefit you. Having worked in the professional regulatory environment prior to becoming a REALTOR®, I find the topic of designations particularly interesting, because to me, a designation is a protected title given to people who are governed by legislation. My designation is “Real Estate Associate” as allowed under the Real Estate Act of Alberta. I use the title, “REALTOR®” which is a trademarked title owned by CREA, and you must be a licensed Real Estate Associate in your province in order to use that title. We also call ourselves agents.

What CREA is calling ‘designations’ I would call ‘certifications’. They are focused training opportunities for new agents in areas that help them be a better REALTOR® which in turn helps protect the public. When an agent completes the training, they are often allowed to use a special title along with an acronym to use in their marketing.

Here’s some information about the more common titles you may see in Alberta:

  1. At Home With Diversity (SHWD) – this is offered by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the United States. It is designed for Americans, but there is an option for international members. It is a one day course, and you must pay the NAR annual fee to use the title.
  2. Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) – this also is governed by NAR and is an online course that will take a day or so to go through, and you must pay the NAR an annual fee to use the title. I have successfully passed his course but have chosen not to pay NAR to use the title.
  3. Certified Condo Specialist® - this is an excellent course that is offered by the Calgary Real Estate Board, and every agent intending on selling condos in Alberta should be required to take it. My concern with using the title is that you can take this course, use the title, and never have sold a condo. I have taken the course but choose not to use the title. (I have done many condo deals and have owned an apartment style and townhouse style condo, so I am confident in my abilities to help the public buy and sell condos!)
  4. Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS)® - this designation is from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, requires 3 qualified transactions where the sold price is at or above the Luxury Threshold Price. This appears to be a private company offering this designation.
  5. Master Certified Negotiation Expert® (MCNE) – this course is offered by a private company and builds on the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE) course. I have completed the CNE course and it is very good.

And here are a few they missed, but you may see in Alberta:

  1. Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) – this is another NAR certification, it is a 2 day course and as long as you pay the annual fee to NAR, you can use the title.
  2. Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) – another NAR certification, and you must pay the annual fee to NAR to use the title.

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