Are you like me? Looking for productive ways to spend your downtime? As a real estate coach, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about using time more efficiently. Instead of spending your nights watching repeats of “The Office” on Netflix, you can and should use this time to upgrade your knowledge and even earn a new designation.
If you have been interested in earning your certified residential specialist (CRS) designation, now may be the best time to do it. But, is the CRS designation worth the time and money? How hard is it to get and will it actually help make you make more money? I will answer these and many more questions in this article as I look into if the CRS designation is worth it in 2021.
Interview With Beth Jaworski: CRS Member of the Year
Like me, Beth Jaworski has held her real estate license since MLS books were still printed, and she earned her CRS designation in the early 2000s.
In this interview, Beth shares how the CRS has made an impact not only on her career but also her pocketbook, and she gives some pro tips on how you can get your CRS designation quicker.
What Is the CRS Designation?
The certified residential specialist (CRS) designation recognizes residential real estate professional accomplishments in both experience and education. The CRS is the highest designation awarded to sales associates by the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC).
The RRC is a membership association that is recognized by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). RRC provides education, certifications, and designations for real estate professionals.
What Are the Benefits of a CRS Designation?
Like any exclusive group, the CRS designation has its perks. In addition to the recognition of adding CRS behind your name, agents with this designation are added to a referral network where they can share leads internationally with others who hold the designation.
When you are a CRS designee, you can also attend CRS Week, an annual event where you will network and deepen your real estate knowledge with further education. You will also have access to exclusive CRS marketing materials and the Your Home Newsletter, which can be personalized and sent to your clients.
There are fewer than 35,000 active CRS designees. That is about 1.5% of all agents nationally. This is important because it allows you to differentiate yourself to your clients. Differentiation equals memorability—and memorability equals more money!
How Much Does It Cost to Get Your CRS in 2021?
Agents often think about how to spend money to grow their business, but many don’t consider investing to further their education. What they may not know is that for a real estate designation as prestigious as the CRS, it is not as expensive to get as one would think. The bulk of the cost of obtaining your CRS designation is the RRC courses.
You do not need to be an RRC member to take RRC courses. However, they are discounted 30-50% for RRC members. For RRC members, each course costs from $25 for a single credit to $180 for eight credits. The annual cost of an RRC membership is $195, and it is also required for your CRS application. Therefore, joining the RRC before taking your courses is completely worth it.
There are two programs available to obtain your CRS designation. The program that you will qualify for is based upon your years as an agent and your past sales production. The program you take will determine the overall cost of obtaining your CRS designation.
CRS Designation Requirements & Costs
|Required Educational Credits|
*It is important to note that the cost of each course varies greatly depending on the instructor, the topic, the credits received, and online vs classroom setting. Therefore, the estimates provided below are just that—an estimate.
Ongoing Membership Costs & Requirements of the CRS Designation
Once you have obtained your CRS designation, you will be required to complete two educational credits each year thereafter and maintain your RRC membership of $195 per year. Your annual RRC membership dues includes the cost of the two educational credits.
One of the main benefits of having your CRS designation is being part of an exclusive group and having the opportunity to connect and learn at the events and conferences. Therefore, I would budget an additional $500 to $1,200 a year for attending RRC and CRS events (post-COVID, of course).
How Does the CRS Compare to the GRI?
Overall, the cost of obtaining your CRS is comparable to the cost of the GRI designation ($495 to $600). One difference is that there are no tenure or production requirements to qualify for the GRI. Nor are there annual renewal costs associated with the GRI other than your membership to NAR.
Another important difference between the CRS and the GRI is that the GRI is 60 hours with a required syllabus specifically geared toward technical subjects and fundamentals of real estate.
On the other hand, the RRC allows you to self-select the course topics to meet the 16 to 30 credit hours required for the CRS designation. This seems to make the CRS to be geared more toward experienced agents who are looking for a generalized education.
So, if increasing your technical real estate knowledge is your main goal, then the GRI is your best bet. However, if you are looking for a general designation you can earn in the next few weeks, then keep reading!
Requirements to Get Your CRS Designation in 2021
Before you get your credit card out, know that not just any agent can apply for their CRS designation. The CRS designation is more than just taking a few classes and passing a test. You must also prove that you have the transactional experience to qualify. There are two ways for you to qualify, depending on your years of service and your volume of transactions.
CRS Designation Program Choice Depends Upon Your Experience
The CRS has two programs to choose from based upon your years of experience and the number of transactions or volume of sales you have completed.
1. 60/30/30 Program
The 60/30/30 Program is designed for you if you have been in business less than 10 years and you have met minimum transactional requirements. The transactional requirements are 60 transactions or $30 million in volume within the past five years. If you meet these requirements, then you need to complete 30 credits of RRC education.
2. Pro Program
The Pro Program is for agents who have a minimum of 10 years’ experience. Applicants must also have completed at least 150 transactions or over $1 million in volume each year for the past 10 years, with a minimum of 40 transactions. If these requirements are met, you only need to take 16 credits of RRC education.
Required Educational Credits to Obtain Your CRS Designation
All CRS educational requirements are provided by RRC. They do not accept any outside credits or courses. Courses can range from one to 13 credits each. With over 50 topics, you are sure to find courses that pique your interests. The approved RRC course topics are listed by the following categories.
RRC Educational Course Categories
1) Business growth and operations
2) Professional development
4) Working with buyers
5) Working with sellers
An additional benefit of the RRC educational courses are that many are also state continuing education (CE) credit approved and may also satisfy your state’s continuing educational requirements. This can save you money by allowing you to get your CRS designation and your state’s CE credits with the same courses.
How Long Does It Take to Get Your CRS Designation?
The investment of time it will take you depends on your real estate experience. The CRS designation educational requirements depend on the number of transactions you have completed and the years you have been selling.
My best guess is if you were to focus eight hours a week, you would complete the course in two to four weeks depending on what program you qualify for. Once you have completed the courses, the application process takes about a week.
How Do You Get Started?
Earning your CRS designation begins with making sure you meet the experiential requirements first. Next, you will pick the correct program and complete the educational requirements. Once you have completed the necessary RRC credit requirements, you will fill out your CRS application. If you are not a member of RRC, you will need to join in order to submit your application.
Is the CRS Designation Worth the Time & Effort in 2021? The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
From the outside looking in, other than meeting the experiential requirements, the difficulty level of earning your CRS designation looks simple enough since you have the ability to select from endless classes with a wide range of topics. Additionally, the overall cost can be very reasonable if (as an RRC member) you pay attention to some of the very low-cost, per-credit virtual classes.
Additionally, according to Beth Jaworski, the referral network alone has proven itself to be worth the time and expense. I don’t believe the public is seeking out CRS designees, but I do think it makes an impression if you discuss how prestigious it is in your listing and buyer presentations.
Overall, I think that the CRS is worth the time and money, if for no other reason to show my clients that I am committed to continuing my professional education over the other 98.5% of agents.
The big question is, “Will you make more money with a CRS designation?” Well, I doubt it. While RRC boasts that CRS designees make more money than the average agent, this is more likely due to the tenure and production requirements of the program than to the actual designation. That being said, some of the educational courses and networking may be invaluable.
My main concern is that there’s not a required educational path and that agents can select from any of the courses to meet the credit requirements. This leads to inconsistent knowledge and proficiency within the group. I can’t help but have the feeling that for the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC), the CRS designation is more about generating revenue through courses than educating and setting higher standards for the agents who hold the designation.
Over to You
Already have your CRS designation and have an opinion on it? Let us know in the comments or join our Facebook Mastermind Group here.