Realtor Designations: What Do They Mean?

You know the drill, this week you’ll be having a few Realtors over to the house to talk about getting the place on the market. There’s the one Aunt Betty says you have to hire, and the other one that always sends you the best looking recipe cards. One day, you keep telling yourself, you’ll try one of those recipes. And then there is the agent with all the Realtor designations on the business card. But, honestly, what the heck do all those little letters stand for?

Can’t Remember S*#+

There is the CRS – which stands for Certified Residential Specialist. At one point, this was the Gold Standard of real estate designations. Around town, plenty of Boulder Co real estate agents have this one. In order to earn the designation, you either have to complete a certain number of transactions or complete many hours of education.

And there are continuing education requirements. What I like about having earned the CRS is the great relationships I’ve built with a number of Realtors in other markets of the country. I have gotten some great ideas to really do more for my clients and deliver a higher caliber of service. During these unusual days of Covid-19, one thing I’m really missing is attending seminars to improve my Realtor designations.

Pictured below: me, (Bob Gordon Realtor) on a giant stage with the Berkshire Hathaway Boulder logo.

seated on dais: realtor bob gordon berkshire hathaway rocky mountain realtors with big giant logo of boulder berkshire hathaway office in background sort of like a floor covering that he is seated upon
Bob Gordon

GRI – The Very First Designation

Well, I don’t know that is is the first one ever invented, but the Graduate Realtor Institute is the first Realtor designation I personally earned. I earned this one before Superior Colorado was home to all the hottest places to live outside of Boulder. That is – I earned my GRI a long time ago. The designation focuses on educating agents to really be great at what they do.

I think of it as the first realty designation a lot of folks get after passing their licensing exams. See, it takes quite a bit of education to earn the license, but that education doesn’t really prepare you for the day to day career of selling homes. The GRI is a super program that marries principals to practice.


Filmed with a live television audience in the ReMax Colorado studios, I briefly held my GREEN designation. It was, in its moment, cutting edge. All about focusing on homes that are built to be environmentally friendly. The catch of course is that retrofitting older homes is almost as expensive as building green in the first place. I found the education material to be helpful. After all, some features such as solar, lead free paints and landscaping taking advantage of local plants are great for our environment.

Senior Real Estate Specialist

This is on my radar for worthwhile courses once this pesky Coronavirus era passes into the dustbin of history. The coursework is geared towards working with seniors and unique aspects of transactions, such as downsizing. No joke. I’ve helped a number of older clients making that transition and it can be challenging. IMHO, its no easy task to let go of the Dining Room table – that sacred family spot where big news and moments have been celebrated for ages.

Accredited Buyers Representative

The ABR. I have this one from long ago. Education focusing on working with home buyers. I think I earned it at the Boulder Area Realtor Association. I recall lots of best practices for working with home buyers. But nothing extra that I was not already doing on my own. Sometimes I wonder if there can be too many Realtor designations out there.

For instance, not a designation, but I have taken some great classes – Star Power, Floyd Wickman and Colorado’s own Ninja Selling

Ninja Selling

This program, for which there is no Realtor designation has been one of the better investments I’ve made in my continuing education. Rather than focus endlessly on strictly being the best in real estate Boulder Colorado, the course work addresses the underlying principals of being great in sales. Practice makes perfect, trite as it sounds is a core pillar of the program. So is remembering sales is about people. If you have ever received a phone call from me as a past client or future client or just to catch up – this is part of Ninja Selling. Remembering to do the daily work that leads to long term success and practice, practice, practice.

Bunch Of Other Certified Realtor Designations Out There

There are a number of options out there. And I’m sure every designation has its value. Will I take every available course? Probably not. Truth is, I have a real estate practice. I’m always learning new ways to deliver the best service to clients. Sometimes I pick up a tidbit from a fellow agent. Or a client shares a preferred communication preference from corporate America and I roll that into my career.

And then there is just the simple doing of it all. Real estate tends to be a career of find a client, help a client, successfully close a transaction and repeat. The Realtor designations I’ve picked up along the way are super helpful. The career of using all these great ideas and suggestions is rewarding. And for me, it is a lifelong journey of practice makes perfect.

Bob Gordon, CRS, GRI, ABR

seller protection is becoming more common because showings and demand for limited inventory is dramatically up, illustrated by this huge pile of business cards from recent showings on a new listing in boulder colorado
Those letters following a Realtor’s name sometimes appear on business cards. Or not.

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