8 key real estate certifications and specializations

by Rincey Abraham

Shot of a senior couple getting advice from their financial consultant

The National Association of REALTORS provides certain designations and certifications that allow a Realtor to gain expertise in specific areas. These designations cross a number of different topics, and Realtors can choose as many as they would like to specialize in. However, each designation or certification has certain requirements. Go to https://www.nar.realtor/designations-and-certifications to learn how you can increase your knowledge and improve your skills.

Accredited Land Consultant

The Accredited Land Consultant designation is for Realtors who are looking to become land experts. Members specialize in land brokerage related to a variety of areas, including farms, ranches, recreational properties, timberland and vineyards. There are seven Realtors in the Chicagoland area who have this designation, and more than 110 throughout the state of Illinois.

Certified International Property Specialist

Realtors who earn a Certified International Property Specialist certification focus on international real estate, including specific markets in Europe, the Americas and the Asia/Pacific region. Realtors can be located in the United States or abroad and will be provided with tools to help expand their real estate business, including an app that provides translations, currency conversion, time zone conversion and a calendar of international holidays.

Green Designation

Realtors who want to focus on energy efficiency and sustainability should look into a Green Designation. According to NAR, Realtors with this designation will receive information on different types of green features available in homes and how they should be marketed. There is also a specialized Facebook group available for Green Designated Realtors to connect and network. According to Tonette Laue, education specialist at NAR’s Green Designation, there are 115 active Green designees in Illinois, 61 of which are in the Chicagoland area.

Seniors Real Estate Specialist

The Senior Real Estate Specialist certification is for Realtors who focus on clients who are 50 and older. This demographic has specific needs when it comes to buying, selling, relocating and re-financing residential and investment properties. This includes knowing the differences in housing options, from age-restricted communities and age-in-place locations to assisted living facilities, as well as how retirement plans and other sources of income like Social Security play a role in real estate transactions. It became an official NAR designation in March 2007.

At Home with Diversity

The At Home with Diversity Certification helps Realtors best serve multicultural markets. Realtors will take a class that teaches them how to adapt to future market trends, how to discuss issues of diversity, and how cultural differences that can effect clients. It also provides Realtors with diversity sensitivity training and information on various cultural stereotypes and biases to help Realtors best serve clients from a variety of backgrounds.

Military Relocation Professional

Realtors who are looking to serve current and former military service members will be most interested in the Military Relocation Professional certification. The program educates Realtors about the demographics of the military market and what they need as both buyers and sellers. It also provides information on the benefits and support available to military members and their families, such as VA financing. There are more than 10,000 Military Relocation specialists, but only 234 in Illinois.

Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist

Realtors who gain the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist certification focus in buying, selling and managing investment properties, retirement homes and second homes. Specifically, Realtors focus on these homes in resort, recreational and vacation destinations. The designation also provides specific marketing materials that helps work with investors and second home properties. According to Dianna M. Garcia, the RSPS program manager at NAR, there are approximately 10 RSPS Certified Realtors in Chicago and 29 in Illinois.

Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource

NAR has provided Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification in 2009, during the peak of the housing downturn when short sales began to pick up. These specialists focus on distressed properties. Realtors learn how to qualify sellers for short sales, how to direct sellers to tax and legal professionals, and how to limit risks for buyers and sellers. The designation also helps Realtors learn how to develop a short-sale package. There are almost 50,000 Short Sales and Foreclosure specialists in the United States, 2,700 of which are in Illinois.

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