What a time to be a buyer’s agent! As our whole industry is in a topsy-turvy, buyer’s agents seek ways to demonstrate their value. On the other hand, buyers are looking for agents who will give them the best chance of getting the home of their dreams—which means any competitive advantage you can get is invaluable. The Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designation is one way to set yourself apart from your competition and win more clients.
But is it worth your time? We’ll learn what it means to be an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), the cost and process of getting this designation, and, ultimately, whether it’s the right move for you and your business. Plus, we’ll get an insider’s opinion from one of the creators of ABR® course content.
What Is the ABR® Designation in Real Estate?
The ABR® designation is offered by the to Center for REALTOR® Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), to agents who work directly with buyer-clients, provide a superior client experience, and prioritize professional development.
To fully understand the benefits of the ABR® designation, we reached out to Adorna Occhialini Carroll, who has an impressive list of designations and post-nominals. She is also a licensed broker in several states and, more importantly, a consultant and course developer for the ABR® designation.
Her high-level explanation is that the course:
9 Real Estate Designations That Will Actually Make You Money
How to Get the ABR® Designation
This one is reasonably priced in real estate designations and doesn’t take long to get. When I calculated the pricing in the bullet list below, the total cost for the ABR® designation was approximately $600. There is a $75 per year fee, after the first year, to maintain it. If you meet the experience requirements, the entire designation can be completed in one week.
To obtain your ABR® designation, you must:
- Be a member in good standing with National Association of REALTORS® or an IRM (International REALTOR® Member)
- Complete the two-day designation course online, in-person or in a live virtual format.
- Complete one qualifying elective course online, in-person or in a virtual format.
- Submit five completed transactions as a buyer’s rep in your career, (two can be leases) in which you act solely as a buyer’s representative
- Submit your application and fee to become an Accredited Buyer’s Representative through their online form. International REALTOR® Members pay a one-time application fee of $185.
It’s important to note that the ABR® course is updated every two years, which could impact pricing. We’ve been assured that it has gone through a very recent update reflecting the current legal headwinds that NAR and the industry face. To learn more, check out the course here.
The course covers the following topics:
Benefits of the ABR® Designation
In light of current buyer agent conditions and potential shifts in commission structures, agents are looking for ways to demonstrate their value and worth. ABR® designees display the designation on their marketing materials, which sets them apart from the competition. These three little letters are a way to do just that.
“We asked Adorna to articulate the actual value of the ABR®, specifically in today’s market: If you want to stay in business in a changing business environment, you need the best tools possible to remain competitive. This course can help agents work smart instead of hard, substantially increase their income, manage risk, and generate more business. This course is a game-changer for agents who take it.”
ABR® Marketing Materials
With your ABR® designation, you get access to the ABR Member Center library of print marketing templates for things like postcards, letters, and brochures. You also receive digital assets like Facebook profile picture frames and cover photos for places like LinkedIn and Instagram. Like most NAR marketing materials, they aren’t going to win any design awards, but they look professional and convey a strong sense of professionalism and expertise.
Use these materials in social media posts that educate your prospects about your designation and how it benefits them. You can also use them on your website, where you can articulate what it means to be an ABR® and how that sets you apart. Make sure it’s clear you’re an ABR® Designation REALTOR®: your designation is on every piece of marketing you send, it’s part of your email signature line, and you’re talking about it in every new client meeting.
ABR® Member Resources
Once you get your ABR® real estate designation, you can instantly use the client-facing resources. These resources include videos to share with your prospects about the value of working with an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, a homebuyer’s toolkit, and consumer one sheets. These features are perfect for buyer-agent scenarios like mortgage prep, home inspection, making an offer, and more. These resources are all packaged nicely and can potentially impress serious buyers.
As an ABR® designee, you are allowed membership to the exclusive ABR Facebook Group, which boasts over 10,000 members. Here, you can connect with other ABR® designees, share strategies, exchange referrals, and more. The group is active, with two posts today and 28 in the past month, as well as live virtual networking events throughout the year. It’s unclear how many actual referrals one can expect from this group. Still, it’s certainly a place where agents are discussing current issues, problem-solving, and supporting one another.
ABR® Member Programming & Publications
Accredited Buyer’s Representatives are automatically subscribed to the monthly ABR® publication, Today’s Buyer’s Rep, the TBR HotSheet, a weekly e-newsletter wrap-up of real estate information, as well as a standing invitation to the Buyer Representation Sessions, an annual event at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Conference and Expo. Each of these resources offers an opportunity to liaise with fellow ABR® designees, learn from best practices, and stay up to date on the most relevant news.
Is the ABR® Designation Worth It?
Yes. The ABR® offers interesting courses, substantial continuing educational opportunities, and a helpful community of fellow designees at a fraction of the cost of other designations. It’s quick to get and affordable to maintain.
However, the ABR® designation only pays for itself if you actively promote it, explain how it sets you apart from your competition, and if you consistently deliver great service to your buyers. You have to leverage the designation to create space between you and those you’re competing against—if you aren’t doing that, you won’t benefit from this distinction, and it’s not worth the time.
“Adorna offers her final two cents: Based on how much business practice is changing and in light of current changes within the industry, anyone who has already taken the ABR® course should retake it. You just don’t take a designation course once—you take it periodically to elevate your business skills and add new tools to your professional toolbox. For agents who have not taken the course yet–now is the time.” ABR® designees have access to all up-to-date live virtual courses in the member center.
Bringing It All Together
The ABR designation is absolutely worth getting if you have a marketing plan to promote it and the follow-through to stay consistent with that message. If you possess both of these things, the ABR® is a no-brainer.