The Value of REALTOR® Education

REALTOR® Designation Awareness Month is recognized annually in the month of November. The National Association of REALTORS® encourages members to increase their professionalism, marketability, and proficiency through the pursuit of an officially-endorsed NAR designation or certification. If you’re not swayed merely by the new knowledge you’ll gain by earning a designation, you’ll also be happy to know that, according to NAR, a REALTOR® who earns one or more designations also earns more money. Based on data from the 2013 NAR Member Profile, the median income of REALTORS® without a designation was $33,500 and the median income of those with at least one designation was $61,100: a difference of $27,600.

The Arizona Association of REALTORS® supports your desire to gain more knowledge, more income and raise the level of professionalism throughout the real estate industry.

“The value of REALTOR® education is so much more than the letters you place behind your name,” said Barb Freestone, senior vice president, Professional & Business Development at AAR. “It’s about the skills you learn from true industry experts that will set you apart from others in your field. Earning a designation or certification helps REALTORS® reach their career goals much faster. With a comprehensive curriculum, you can expand your referral network, stand out from the crowd and raise your level of professionalism. We want you to come away from these courses with the skills you need to enact real change in your career and in our industry.”

Currently, AAR offers many NAR designations and will be adding more in the coming year. Below is a brief breakdown of a few of the designations offered by AAR. To find an upcoming class, visit the AAR calendar.

ABR®: Accredited Buyer’s Representative

This designation provides the expertise REALTORS® need to gain a competitive edge in serving today’s home buyers. Accredited Buyer’s Representatives (ABR®) stand for the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. Not only do ABR® designees earn more, but member benefits such as publications, marketing tools, a referral network and other resources, help them maintain that edge.

Note: This is a two-day course, plus a one-day elective.

CRB: Certified Real Estate Broker Manager

To stay ahead of the competition, brokers and managers must learn new trends and business strategies to improve individual and company performance. The Certified Real Estate Broker Manager designation is open to any real estate professional and delivers the knowledge and resources needed to create opportunities to excel. After taking CRB courses, managers and brokers will be better positioned to develop and streamline operating practices, market and position his or her company, and better understand how to keep brokerage costs in check. Read about who can participate in the CRB.

GRI: Graduate, REALTOR® Institute

The GRI designation is the cornerstone of REALTOR® education. This professional development course provides REALTORS® with in-depth knowledge of legal and regulatory issues, technology, sales process and professional standards and is taught by professionals with proven track records of success.

In 2014, the GRI designation will undergo a major overhaul, evolving into a designation that can be tailored fit each individuals needs. New classes and a more streamlined approach will give REALTORS® the opportunity to earn multiple designations at once and will be flexible in terms of time and learning preference. To see how the GRI has evolved to meet the needs of today’s REALTOR® visit

SRES: Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

This designation educates REALTORS® on how to develop business building skills and the resources needed to serve the 50+ consumer. One student said recently, “I learned so much more than I expected to in this course that will help me be a better REALTOR®, no matter what age my clients are.”

RSPS: Resort & Second-home Property Specialist

NAR’s advanced education-based certification is designed for resort and second-home professionals. This core course focuses on the knowledge and skill base that real estate professionals need to specialize in buying, selling, or managing second homes in a resort, recreational, and/or vacation destination and properties for investment, development, or retirement. Find out more here.

SRS: Seller Representative Specialist

SRS is the premier seller agency designation recognizing real estate professionals who have completed special education in seller representation. The SRS covers a comprehensive look at seller representation, including marketing, but also discusses the full lineup of legal issues, Code of Ethics issues and practical issues of getting the listing from acquisition to closing.

According to one student “This class was a great investment in my business and me. I learned quite a bit about ramping up my listing presentation, how to make myself look more professional and help my customers and clients see that I have their best interests at heart…”


The e-PRO® certification teaches you the latest social media technologies to create an online presence vital to reaching today’s hyper-connected consumers. The National Association of REALTORS® has partnered with the Social Media Marketing Institute (SMMI) to develop a program to help you successfully compete in today’s ever-evolving real estate market. The new e-PRO® curriculum shows you how to use the latest social media technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to create an online presence vital in reaching today’s hyper-connected consumers. NAR’s e-PRO® certification also teaches REALTORS® how to take advantage of rich media and e-office strategies to run his or her business more efficiently.

Become a Certified Risk Management Specialist

AAR also offers the rCRMS (Certified Risk Management Specialist) program to REALTORS® across the state. This certification program is taught by practicing attorneys in Arizona and helps members successfully manage real estate transaction while reducing clients’ exposure to potential risk. Earning this certification will give your clients the utmost protection during their transaction!
Requirements for certification include attending one contract course, three core courses, and one elective course. The requirements must be completed within a two-year period, and rCRMS holders must recertify every two years by taking one of the contract courses.
Watch the rCRMS video to find out more!

Tell us: What designations do you have and which ones deliver the most “bang for your buck”?

Do You Speak House?

All homes talk. Sometimes it just takes a trained ear to hear what they’re saying. In 2014, the Arizona Association of REALTORS® will introduce a one-day course in the recently-revamped GRI designation that will teach both new and seasoned REALTORS® how to understand that property condition, warranted items, inspection reports and more can speak volumes about a home.

The Market Essentials: Property Condition course will be rolled out next year to those pursuing their GRI designation. This course will focus on understanding:

  • The impact of property condition on salability and potential buyers.
  • Financing opportunities depending on property condition.
  • Disclosure requirements for both buyers and sellers.
  • Warranted items as provided in the AAR purchase contract.
  • Using inspection reports to write a BINSR and using the BINSR correctly.
  • Working with appraisers, the Home Value Code of Conduct (HVCC) and best practices.

When qualifying a property for listing, REALTORS® play a very important role. REALTORS® who participate in this course will leave with a greater understanding of how to qualify both the property and the seller. With the many tools and resources available, this course will also help REALTORS® identify “red flags” that may cause problems prior to listing a home for sale. Uncovering these tools and utilizing them wisely will have an impact on buyer financing and desirability.

When selling real estate, it is extremely important to match the buyer to the right property. Not only taking into account aesthetic needs, but also understanding available financing and the types of properties that clients are willing to purchase. This course covers the best ways to match a buyer to a home based on a number of differing factors.

Any seasoned REALTOR® will tell you that a good inspector and a knowledgeable appraiser are crucial to selling a home. Knowing how to read a home inspection report and understanding how to assist your clients with the report is a great way for a REALTOR® to flex some expert muscle. The same is true for appraisals. This course delves into the multiple factors that affect the price of a property and teaches REALTORS® more about the entire inspection and appraisal process; including how to dispute an appraisal.

Read more about all the changes taking place regarding the GRI designation and find out how you can also build successful Strategies in Effective Consumer Satisfaction.

AAR would like to thank David Gilpatrick, Residential Environmental Services of America and Holly Mabery and Stacey Onnen from Keller Williams Check REALTY for their contributions to this class.

Some Things Can’t Be Googled

Previewing the newest GRI course for AAR members


In August, AAR gave our members a brief look at the changes taking place in 2014 with regards to the GRI designation. This month, we’re giving you a sneak peek into one of the new courses you’ll find in the 2014 GRI course catalog. To see the entire list, visit

This course begins with a simple question: How has the role of the REALTOR® changed over the past 10 years? As technology continues to proliferate the consumer landscape, some agents are finding it difficult to cope with the new and diverse needs of today’s homebuyer. Today’s consumer is better educated when it comes to the market, as well as the home buying process itself. A successful REALTOR® must be able to provide solid information that cannot be found elsewhere (even on Google).

Enter the Strategies In Effective Consumer Satisfaction class. This day-long class focuses on uncovering new ways to build a sustainable real estate career by giving you to the tools to market, consult, negotiate and close with buyers and sellers. Both new and seasoned agents will uncover tried-and-true tactics for helping clients understand that you’re not withholding “the goods” from them when it comes to homes; or teach you new ways to interpret data for you clients.

This course addresses these major topics:

1.       Understanding Today’s Consumer

Agents will gain a greater understanding of the traits today’s consumer; tech-savvy, with access to a greater wealth of information (and misinformation). You will learn how to adapt your communication style to eliminate confusion and become a trusted adviser to your clients.

2.       Marketing and Branding Yourself

Have you established yourself as a brand? Find ways to play to your strengths when building your brand. It also delves into ways to analyze your marketing mix and evaluate and track your results.

3.       DiSC® Analysis for Successful Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

When it comes to negotiation, it helps to have the advantage. Agents will be taught the DiSC® (Dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness) personal assessment tool, attendees will gain a better understanding of what motivates you, how you respond to conflict and ways eliminate stress. This workshop will help build a better understanding of the communications needs of different profiles and ways to adapt to meet their needs enabling more fluid transactions.

4.       Creating Long-Term Success

Dedication to success is hard work and it should pay off for the long-term. This course will help you draft a blueprint for creating a business plan that works for years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about the GRI program, visit Or, if you’d like to see when the Strategies In Effective Consumer Satisfaction class is going to be held, view it on the GRI calendar here:


The Evolution of GRI

To some real estate professionals, earning a designation is like earning a Bachelor’s degree in real estate. It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills and increase your earning potential. According to the 2012 Member Profile, REALTORS® who held the Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation earned $21,000 more a year than their peers. To keep with the changing pace of technology, our evolving market and meet the needs of today’s real estate professional, the curriculum of the GRI designation will undergo a complete overhaul in 2014, giving REALTORS® a more flexible way to earn a nationally recognized designation.

Members Sound Off, AAR Listens

The Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) surveyed members and found that most wanted more flexibility when earning the GRI designation, especially when it comes to their time. Beginning on January 1, 2014, the GRI designation will offer REALTORS® expanded options to participate in classes online. The integration of REBAC classes, including Marketing Reboot and Generation Buy, to the GRI curriculum will allow for less time away from the office and clients. Many live classes will be condensed down to one day, providing REALTORS® with a succinct learning experience that can be implemented right away.

The flexibility of GRI will also be evident in the ability to earn multiple designations and/or certifications at once. Now, those who are earning a designation like the Accredited Buyer Representative® (ABR®), the Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) or the Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) designation or ePRO or rCRMS certifications can transfer these credits and apply them to a GRI designation. This also allows REALTORS® to be in control of what they want to learn. “You can build your own direction. You really have a lot more choices based on what you want to learn,” said Barb Freestone, senior vice president, Professional and Business Development, AAR.

Curriculum Focused on Building Skills and Managing Risk

The value of earning a designation is reflected in the knowledge you gain by earning it. The re-invented GRI will place more emphasis on building skills to manage even the toughest real estate transaction as well as ways to manage your risk. The curriculum will be split into two sections, Risk Management and Skill Building. The Skill Building courses focus on effective marketing strategies, business planning, transactional technology, financing options for your clients and customer service. The Risk Management courses focus on writing and understanding contracts, disclosure and due diligence, agency and ethical behavior. The new requirements are customizable and give REALTORS® the option to build a GRI that fits a specific niche.

Simple Transition for Current Candidates

For those members who are currently participating in the GRI program, the transition will be simple and straightforward come January 1. If you need a class that is no longer offered, a corresponding class will be made available. Current GRI candidates should be looking for more updates from AAR as we near the go-live date for the updated GRI.

Stay tuned for updates about GRI!

What AAR Members Are Saying About GRI

Kerry Melcher, REALTOR®, The Melcher Agency: “In the interest of full disclosure I do not have my GRI. But, I like the idea of it merging multiple designations within the GRI program. The big one for me is condensing the classes into one day.”

Paula Monthofer, GRI, e-PRO, West USA Flagstaff: “As a GRI instructor, I am really looking forward to teaching our new tech class! It is so well tailored and thorough, yet fits almost all tech skill sets. The best part? We really focused on practical tips and tools you can take and use to better your business that day.”

Micki Lang, assistant association executive, Scottsdale Association of REALTORS®: “The new GRI program provides the REALTOR® member with improved flexibility in acquiring not only the GRI designation, but the new program will also allow them to utilize other NAR designations and AAR certifications as credit towards the GRI program.  Our new GRI program is a well rounded educational platform for REALTORS® who aspire to be real estate professionals.”

Karen Kay, REALTOR®, DPR Realty: “As a member of the GRI Oversight Workgroup, I’ve seen first-hand the amount of time and care taken to give the GRI a fresh update. As our profession evolves, it’s great to see a designation evolve as well. I hope that more REALTORS® will consider the GRI.”

Stacey Onnen, ABR, RSPS, GRI, Keller Williams Check Realty: “AAR has really taken the time to take the GRI program beyond just earning C/E. It provides cutting-edge, real world, current solutions that agents can implement the next day.”

Holly Mabery, GRI, ABR, CRMS, Keller Williams Check Realty: “I know I’m excited for the changes and the updates GRI has undergone. [GRI] really gives the boots-on-the-ground agents real-world skills to improve their business.”

What are your thoughts?