Become the Expert: Hone Your Skills with a Specialty

Looking to stand out in a competitive market? We’ve got the scoop on how to get a leg up on the competition. Everyone and their neighbor knows a broker these days, so when it comes to winning clients and standing out in the marketplace, you need a competitive edge. Have you ever considered getting a designation or certificate? Designations mark you as an expert in a specific area (aka, your niche), and each gives you a certain industry advantage. To help you figure out where your interests lie, we got the low-down on a few of the industry’s leading designations and certifications, straight from the mouths of your fellow REALTORS®.


From_Your_Peers-Leticia_AndradeWhen looking for a specialty, working with buyers is on the top of the list because it is applicable to nearly every REALTOR®. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t something more to be learned about this audience. Working with buyers requires many skills including showing techniques, negotiation skills and the ability to help a buyer evaluate their needs and wants in a home purchase. And on top of this, you must be able to gain the loyalty of your buyer client throughout the home search process. In today’s low inventory market, competition for properties amongst buyers is strong. A buyer’s rep must be able to assist a buyer quickly, guide them through the offer and counter offer process, and help them cope with a multiple offer situation, if one arises.

Accredited Buyer Representative ® (ABR®) Designation

The benchmark of excellence for buyer relationships, ABR® is one of the most popular designations offered by NAR and REBAC. It’s easy to see why business booms with the extensive marketing tools and resources you’ll get for years to come. Requirements: 2-Day ABR® course, 1 ABR® elective, 5 completed transactions, REBAC membership

Get Your ABR®



From_Your_Peers-MichelleChicagoFrom the listing presentation to the closing, there are many strategies involved in representing sellers in this marketplace. With inventory at a ten year low, many sellers are faced with multiple offers — great, right? But do you know how to stay within the law and code of ethics in this situation? Standing out in a listing presentation, formulating pricing and marketing information, and guiding clients through the listing process are key areas REALTORS® must understand fully in order to best represent seller clients. Also, it’s helpful to know what improvements and staging solutions to recommend to ensure your clients’ property is shown in the best light.

Seller Representative Specialist® (SRS®) Designation

Regardless if you’re a veteran or a newbie, this designation will give you a whole new outlook on representing sellers. Redefine what you’ve been taught and give your listing presentation a makeover. This one’s a game changer. Requirements: 2-Day SRS® course, 1 SRS® elective, 5 completed transactions, SRS® membership

Get Your SRS


Military Relocation

From_Your_Peers-Lutalo_McGeeIllinois is ranked 10th in the nation in veteran population with 721,575 veterans. When military staff and their families relocate, the services of a real estate professional who understands their needs and timetables makes the transfer easier, faster, and less stressful. Working with military services members at different stages in their career requires not only knowledge of their needs but also the benefits and support available to them including VA financing.

Military Relocation Professional (MRP) Certification

This certification focuses on educating real estate professionals about working with current and former military service members to find the housing solutions that best suit their needs and take full advantage of military benefits and support. Requirements: 1-day MRP Certification core course, 2 hour-long webinars and a completed application. BONUS: the MRP Certification course is an approved elective for the ABR® Designation.

Get Your MRP


Seniors Specialist

From_Your_Peers-Ken_JernbergThe market for buyers and sellers over 50 years old is BOOMING (pun intended). You hear all about the millennials finally making their way into the market, but the senior market is a whole different ballpark. They aren’t using technology at the same rate as younger generations, so how do you find them — or better yet, they find you? You can read more about this demographic here.

Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) Designation

By earning the SRES® Designation, you have demonstrated the necessary knowledge and expertise to counsel clients age 50+ through major financial and lifestyle transitions in relocating, refinancing, or selling the family home. Requirements: 2-day SRES® course, SRES® membership

Get Your SRES


International Specialist

From_Your_Peers-Stephany_OliverosForbes recently profiled the top 10 U.S. cities where investors say they will be property buyers in 2016, using figures based on Colliers International’s Global Investor Outlook 2016. Chicago ranked number 5, with 16 percent saying the Windy City is their preferred place to allocate extra capital this year. In addition to inbound investments, there is opportunity in assisting your clients with purchases in foreign countries. These transactions require an abundance of knowledge of cultural nuances as well as regulations.

Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation

No matter which international audience you cater to, the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation will provide you with the knowledge, research, network and tools to globalize your business. Requirements: 2 core CIPS courses, 3 electives and a completed application that demonstrates 100 points of international experience.

Get Your CIPS


Technology Expert

From_Your_Peers-Mel_AlvizuresIn today’s digital world, your online brand is more important than ever. 41 percent of REALTORS®’ business development time is spent on online marketing activities. But between updating and monitoring the various social media channels, navigating online customer service, accumulating great online reviews and staying in touch with your clients, it can be a little overwhelming. Ensure you’re using that time to the best of your ability and making the right investments in the online space.

e-PRO® Certification

Social networks are growing in value. Connecting with users through online channels is an easy way to target new clients. Through NAR’s e-PRO® Certification Program, you will learn best practices for employing social media effectively, working more efficiently online, using innovative marketing strategies to grow your business and creating a Web presence with impact and integrity. Requirements: 2-day e-PRO® course and completed application. Bonus: completion of the e-PRO® certification counts as elective credit for ABR® and CIPS designations.

Get Your e-PRO®