Realtor® Alphabet Soup

Dec 20, 2013

In today’s business world, we can become overwhelmed by all the letters that follow everyone’s names. As a result, we decided to write this article to help you understand the significance of the letters you may see following a Realtors® name.

As you learned from Tupper Brigg’s article, there is a difference between a licensed agent and a Realtor®. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of Realtors® are properly called Realtors®, and we are committed to treat all parties to 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.

Once you have decided to work with a Realtor®, the next level of questions could focus on the amount of additional training and education that the Realtor® has done. Frankly, that is the point of all this alphabet soup. You can rest assured your Realtor® has invested lots of extra time in order to have a particular designation or certification.

Following my name, you are likely to see Realtor®, J.D., and/or CMAS, among some others. Anytime you see J.D. following a person’s name, this means they are an attorney and have a “Juris Doctorate”. The Mountain Metro Association of Realtors® (MMAR) has a few members who are both Realtors® and attorneys.

In our mountain communities, one of the most important designations is the Certified Mountain Area Specialist or CMAS. This is a special certification that only MMAR can confer. If a Realtor® has CMAS after his or her name, it means that the Realtor® has taken classes on some very important property features that affect the transfer of mountain property, such as wells, septic systems, fire mitigation, and living with wildlife, just to name a few. Many Realtors® from “down the hill” do not know that we need to transfer a well permit or obtain a Continued Use Permit for a septic system. These are critical issues that can affect both buyers and sellers in the mountains.

Moreover, with rising insurance rates, understanding fire mitigation issues is mandatory in the mountains. Did you know that we may soon have a mandatory disclosure that informs potential buyers of your home’s particular level of fire danger as determined by Federal Emergency Management Agency? A Realtor® with CMAS after his or her name can help you understand what you need to know about buying and selling real estate in the mountains.

The National Association of Realtors® offers 21 designations or certifications. Further, there are other organizations that offer other important certifications, such as the Certified “Eco Broker®”. Notice that many of the designations and certifications have an “R” in a circle or a small “sm” following the letters. This means that the certifying entity actually has a registered service mark or trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark office. These little letters should be taken seriously. Here is a list of all the certifications offered by NAR:

  • Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR®)
  • Accredited Land Consultant (ALCSM)
  • At Home With Diversity (AHWD®)
  • Broker Price Opinion Resource Certification (BPOR)
  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIMSM)
  • Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS®)
  • Certified Property Manager (CPM®)
  • Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRBsm)
  • Certified Residential Specialist® (CRS®)
  • Counselor of Real Estate (CRE®)
  • e-PRO ®
  • General Accredited Appraiser (GAAsm)
  • Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRIsm)
  • Performance Management Network (PMN)
  • REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE)
  • Residential Accredited Appraiser (RAAsm)
  • Resort & Second Home Property Specialist (RSPS)
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®)
  • Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource Certification (SFR)
  • Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS® (SIOR®)

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above designations, please visit the NAR website.

In summary, when you are ready to buy or sell a mountain property, you will be ready to interview a Realtor® to find out what he or she knows. More to the point, when you see all those letters following a Realtor’s® name, you will understand that the Realtor® has dedicated himself or herself to the profession by taking many hours of continuing education to better serve you.

Also, MMAR has many resources and tools available for your use, including an online Directory listing all its members.

– Jon Terry, Alaris Properties LLC

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