If you’re looking to set yourself apart from other professionals in the real estate industry, earning a designation or certification shows your peers and clients your unique areas of expertise.

With the new year about to dawn, it’s time to level yourself up. We’ll close out the year with a monthlong focus on real estate coaches and the value of ongoing training. Expect advice from the top real estate coaches, deep evergreen training resources and more during Inman’s Coaching and Training Month.

As an author of numerous continuing education courses and a contributing author to the Keller Williams inaugural diversity certification course, Agent of Distinction, I’ve done my fair share of research on which designations and certifications truly enhance a real estate agent’s business.

If you’re looking to set yourself apart from other professionals in the real estate industry, earning a designation or certification shows your peers and clients your unique areas of expertise. A real estate designation or certification is a special endorsement or credential that real estate agents get to demonstrate to the market that they have specialized education, knowledge and expertise in a particular niche market.

Real estate certifications can also contribute to expanding an agent’s network and attracting more clients to grow your real estate business.

Given the vast number of real estate designations and certifications offered by associations, training organizations and real estate brokerages, it’s hard to know which may be best for you and which will have the most lucrative impact on your business. Here, I’ve gathered five designations and certifications you should focus on in 2023.

Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) 

The first suggestion actually isn’t a certification or designation at all — it’s an endorsement that Realtors can promote when serving clients and other Realtors. Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) from the National Association of Realtors will develop and enhance 11 competencies that indicate a Realtor’s commitment to ethics, advocacy, technology, data privacy and outstanding customer service. 

The Program offers each Realtor the opportunity to complete a C2EX Skills Assessment and will produce a self-paced, facilitated path through a personalized education program, specific action steps and tailored tools and resources based on the results of the C2EX Skills Assessment.

Each Realtor’s C2EX Journey will be unique, and will identify the best possible path for that particular individual toward excellence in the Realtor C2EX Competencies.

Additionally, Realtors who earn the Commitment to Excellence endorsement will satisfy the Code of Ethics training requirement.

Go to www.C2EX.realtor to get started with this award-winning program.

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) 

Agent-to-agent referrals are a great source of income for both the referral agent and the referred agent. Agent referrals are also often the most qualified leads and convert far better than any other type of lead. With more than 35,000 designees, benefits from the CRS nationwide referral network make the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation one to look at in 2023.

The Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers. Agents who have invested the time to earn the CRS designation represent the top 3 percent of all agents.

The education programs provide CRS Designees with the superior knowledge, connections and tools to be more productive. To earn the Certified Residential Specialist Designation, a Realtor must demonstrate significant experience and certify that they have handled a large number of real estate transactions. 

Presented by Residential Real Estate Council, you can contact them at their website or 800-462-8841. 

The Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)

According to the NAR, baby boomers (ages 57 to 75) make up the largest share of sellers at 42 percent. The Senior Real Estate Specialist is one of the top designations because it gives the agent advanced expertise in, and exposure to, the largest-growing market in real estate.

The SRES designation is for Realtors who want to work with individuals or couples who are 50-plus in age and is the best designation in our review for working with senior buyers and sellers. Agents who earn it understand the needs of mature Americans who want to sell, buy, relocate, refinance or invest.

Presented by SRES Council and the Center for Realtor Development, you can learn more at sres@nar.realtor or 800-500-4564.

Certified Property Manager (CPM)

This may come as an unlikely contender, but as the residential housing market begins to quickly slow down, gaining new knowledge as a property manager may prove to be an ideal role for many licensed real estate agents.

According to the 2023 Property Management Industry Report, 92 percent of small property management companies who manage rental properties owned by third parties plan to add new doors to their portfolios in 2023 and 2024. 

As a licensed real estate agent, you’re legally allowed to act as a property manager for rental properties. Property management can be a lucrative field, especially in major metropolitan areas. According to the Institute of Real Estate Management, the average salary of a Certified Property Manager (CPM) is over $118,000, whereas it’s just $48,000 for property managers without the CPM designation.

Presented by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), you can get more information at 800-837-0706, ext. 4650.

At Home With Diversity (AHWD) 

The United States is becoming more and more diverse. Pew Research states that nearly 39 percent of Millennials and 48 percent of Gen Z individuals identify as racial or ethnic minorities. The At Home With Diversity (AHWD) certification is designed to present a picture of the changing face of the real estate industry and teaches you how to conduct your business with sensitivity to all client profiles.

At Home with Diversity is a 6 to 7-hour class that can be taken online or in person and addresses the topics of diversity, fair housing, and business planning development. After successfully completing the course, Realtors are eligible to apply for the official AHWD certification, which conveys to clients they’re working with a dynamic real estate professional with expertise that transcends cultural barriers.

For more information on this course and its business principles, please contact NAR at ahwd@nar.realtor or 800-874-6500. 

If leveraged correctly, designations and certifications are worth the time and financial commitment. But in order to get the full value, you’ll want to make sure you market yourself as an endorsed expert in your particular real estate niche. Otherwise, they won’t get you very far.

As the head of inclusion and belonging for Keller Williams Realty International, Julia Lashay Israel advises, trains and coaches leaders, team members and agents to recognize and address diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities and challenges across the organization.

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