The Actual Value of Your Real Estate Education

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Broadpoint Properties Cal BRE #01324959

real estate educationOver the years, I've been observing the ways in which agents tell the world about their credentials. Certain individuals have their degree title (e.g., B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D.) immediately after their name in signature lines of emails, professional letters, etc. Other folks include their Realtor®-related professional designations (such as GRI and CRS) on their business cards and professional marketing materials. One thing that I am curious about is whether a prospective client really might know what these real estate acronyms stand for.

More importantly, will they care? Will Mr. Seller from Escondido, for example, know a GRI from an CRS? And, is that important to him? As to whether the designations themselves (the actual letters on your business card) are important to the consumer, I’m willing to wager that the answer is no. How else can you explain so many agent complaints that sellers hired their cousin or their friend or their sister-in-law, when you so clearly have more experience and dedication? The truth is that the homebuyer or home seller most clearly wants value—what is in it for them. So, your unique value proposition is what the consumer is looking for when the relationship begins.

But what the designations bring to the table—additional education—is what's truly valuable.

Top Shelf Agents Have Real Estate Designations

Of the 1.1 million Realtors®, many are not continuously sharpening the saw. They are not up to date on the latest laws, policies, procedures, and technological advances impacting the industry. And, if you participate in the education that is required for these designations, you will have a huge edge and provide much more value to homebuyers and home sellers.

Top shelf agents have all sorts of alphabet soup (designations) after their name—but they may not brag about it. One of my all-time favorite comics comes from The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman). His comic “If you do this in email, I hate you” pokes fun of some email signature lines and speaks perfectly to the topic of designations.

Here's my question: Are these designations important? Or are there other ways that a real estate agent can convey to the public certain aspects of their professional profile that may come through in the acronym? Do I have to tell everyone about my college degrees? Or can I just demonstrate gracious professionalism, product and market knowledge in such a way that the client will feel that I am well-trained, educated, and trustworthy?

Personally, I am a Broker, a Realtor®, a B.A., and an M.A. But, perhaps the degree that my family has conferred upon me is the most important of all: I can also be huge a Pain in the A. ;-)


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Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

There is a difference between schooling and education.  Likewise, there is a difference between education and knowledge.  Then there is wisdom -- knowing the difference.

It is a matter of practical fact that some folks with degrees and titles managed to get them without ever increasing their knowledge levels.  Flawed as the educational measuring apparatus may be, the opportunity for the teachable to learn is great.  All good intentions aside, the smartest, best educated real estate professional will always be better equipped to advocate on hehalf of his/her client.


Jul 26, 2016 11:14 PM #21
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Melissa Zavala - "comme si comme sa"....Many people with doctorates display that at the end of their name. But what does a doctorate in chemistry have to do with real estate?  All it shows is that you are educated. Shouldn't that just shine through in your conversation and writing skills? But you did earn that prestigious degree. Again - It is up to the agent on how they feel they want to be viewed by their customers. This is a very personal choice.

Personally, I judge you by your conversation, common sense and how you handle social and professional situations. On the other hand, I highlight the MCNE logo because it defines my ability to negotiate on behalf of my customer. In my market it distinguishes me because there are only a handful of agents with this training....and I am a master at it! 

Jul 26, 2016 11:28 PM #22
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

I'm all for education myself and I leave off the designations from my name - no one knows what they mean or ask about them anyway

Jul 26, 2016 11:32 PM #23
Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

I am a strong supporter of education, but never saw the benefit of bragging about how much I know; not in real estate life or in my prior business life.

Jul 26, 2016 11:41 PM #24
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I went to college in my fifties to see what it was all about. I had actually done or knew just about everything they presented except for specialized fields. I learned that I everything I needed to know I carried with me. Being certified, getting designations, titles and building resumes all should work toward being a success. It's experience that does the work. Its what you do with it that counts

Jul 26, 2016 11:45 PM #25
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

People who think designations are important are those who think the public gives our profession much more than a second thought. The public barely knows the difference between a real estate agent and a broker.

I market my experience. When you've got over 40 years in the business, that means something. ABC or XYZ means the National Association of Realtors picked up a few more checks.

Jul 27, 2016 12:32 AM #26
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I once received a call from a man who wanted to move here from New York.  When I asked him how he found me, he said he Googled "Winnetka real estate agent CRS". 

It was just that one time - but he did buy a $1.5 million home!  So yes, they can be important and I think the CRS is the gold standard.

Jul 27, 2016 12:36 AM #27
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

My tag line says it all for me: Broker/Owner/Realtor. After that, they need to read my bio, blogs and reviews. Which prospective new clients seem to do.

Jul 27, 2016 12:39 AM #28
Jim Smith
The Property Management Company - Round Rock, TX

I have far more designations than I typically display; as I prefer to promote those designations within the professional services I provide.  It's not about the designation, but rather, what must be done to accomplish and earn them.  Far more weight should be given towards those Certifications that require hands-on experience vs merely taking a course or two for a designation (i.e.-CRS, CRB, CCIM, CPM, CIPS, etc. vs GRI, CNE, AHWD, e-PRO, etc.).  I offer a list of questions to potential clients to ask while interviewing Property Managers.  One of the very first questions is not only to ask about their ongoing education and designations, but to also go to our state Real Estate Commission and look them up to see what courses they take and stay on top of.  Is their resume full of Tenant/Landlord, Legal, Broker Responsibility, Investment Strategy courses? Or do they merely take the minimum, easy, online courses to squeak by?  For those who are interested, find out more about the NAR recognized Designations and Certifications.

Jul 27, 2016 12:56 AM #29
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Chandler, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Hi Melissa Zavala. There isn't much to add that hasn't already been written previously.  I do choose to display my designations in my email signature block and on mailers, etc.  Certainly NOT to boast, but rather to show that I took the time to further my education in my chosen field.  The bottom line (for me) is that I am a likeable and trustworthy resource for my clients who will have their back and get the transaction done with the least amount of stress (on them) as possible.  This formula has earned me a lot of referral/repeat business and some wonderful and heartwarming testimonials along the way.  To me, that is what matters much more than the "alphabet soup" after our respective names.

Jul 27, 2016 01:31 AM #30
Eileen Burns
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FL Probate Agent, Hotel & Land Specialist

I concur with Greg Mona:  to show that I took the time to further my education in my chosen field.

I am continually adding new resources from these different networks.  I have been in the business 27 years and find I always learn new things and have take aways to utilize in my business when obtaining these designations.  


Jul 27, 2016 01:48 AM #31
Jeremy Cupp MRP, SRS, ePRO
12 Stones Realty Group Powered by eXp Realty - Bentonville, AR
Progress - Service - Legacy

Getting just one good referral from a designation website can pay for all your designations. But, in most cases, you'll get far more. 

I love being a Veteran with the MRP designation. I've received many referrals from this one. 

Jul 27, 2016 01:55 AM #32
Mike Bjork
Pinnacle Home Loan - Redondo Beach, CA

Great question, Melissa.  I agree that the consumer doesn't know or understand what the designations mean, but when an Agent is providing their expertise with them, then they'll understand why that Agent may be best qualified to assist them.  They will begin to understand the designations once they begin conversation with the Agent with those designations (and especially if they've conversed with another Agent without any designations).  They'll see the difference.  Besides just showing the designation, I think it's important for oneself to further their expertise and education in their field to provide quality service for their clients.  And definitely don't hide the designations!

Jul 27, 2016 03:27 AM #33
Cody Carmen
Adhi Schools, LLC - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Market Analysis--Educational Content, Adhi Schools

I resisted putting anything in my email signature for a long time. But eventually I started realizing that just my name didn't work with certain people. When you add [insert university, year] and job title, it can help. My thought process for a long time was to avoid an appearance of perceived self-importance, but I risk it now. Maybe I shouldn't. 

I have a slightly different perspective because I'm employed by a school to write educational content and am not an agent with a lot of certifications struggling to decide which to display. 

Jul 27, 2016 06:25 AM #34
Tammy Adams ~ Realtor / Podcaster
Maricopa Real Estate Co - Maricopa, AZ
A Maricopa Agent who Works, Lives & Loves Maricopa

I don't think the designations mean as much as we wish they would but I treasure mine more for the knowledge I gained from achieving them. The content is more rich and the fellow students are there to learn vs checking a box. 

So while it might not mean much in letters, I think our clients appreciate it in our abilities. 

Jul 27, 2016 06:51 AM #35
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent point and well written blog!  I've often wondered what the public truly thinks of all the alphabet soup.  Only once has someone commented about all the initials, etc that was behind my name.  It felt like a compliment, but other than that, no one has ever said boo!

Jul 27, 2016 09:04 AM #36
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Putting my time and energy into courses and designations shows my commitment to the business.  I have the alphabet soup and on my website, it explains each one of them.  My reviews and testimonials from past clients speak volumes about the way that I do business.  The education gives me an edge as I continue to take more courses than are required each year.  Thank you for the post.

Jul 27, 2016 09:15 AM #37
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

Specialized real estate education in the form of short courses is certainly very important Melissa. The more the better! However, I would not downplay the benefits of higher education which also can help an agent deal with the many uncertainties encountered in real estate; especially when it comes to framing issues and developing solutions of high quality in a dynamic environment. Why not achieve both?

Jul 27, 2016 12:17 PM #38
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I do think extra designations are important, it shows you are committed to the profession and want to keep educating yourself.

Jul 27, 2016 12:33 PM #39
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I think they care more about results than anything like the B.S. H.S., M. P. A. and H.S. D.... Bachelor of Science in Healh Sciences (nothing to do with real estate), Master of Public Administration (why?)...H.S. D. (high school diploma)!  Actually I do not use them behind my name for the most part!

Jul 28, 2016 12:38 AM #40
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Melissa Zavala

Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County
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