Why Should You Care If a Realtor Is a GRI? (Because It's the Gold Standard)

Working with a real estate agent is a long process. Buying and selling real estate usually takes time, so why not enlist the best of the bunch to help navigate the process?

A Graduate Realtor Institute designation is the real estate industry hallmark.

Only Realtors who successfully complete more than 90 hours of comprehensive training can be called a GRI. These agents are considered the elite of the business. It is the No. 1 real estate designation in the industry.

The GRI designation is to real estate what the CPA designation is to accountants. Realtors boasting the GRI are set apart as masters of the real estate profession, possessing advanced skills and techniques.

"Knowledge is power," said Charles "Butch" Grimes, a GRI instructor in California. "Having those acronyms doesn't mean you're going to be successful -- it gives you access to successful people … and GRIs are successful people."

Studies show that Realtors with at least one designation earn more than those without. In fact, Realtors with a GRI earned a median income of $61,000 while those without earned just $33,500, according to the 2013 National Association of Realtors Member Profile. In other words, GRI graduates are usually the top performers in most real estate offices.

Realtors with the GRI designation have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, and professional standards, as well as the sales process.

The GRI program consists of 14 courses designed to enhance Realtor market knowledge and business skills. For the consumer, this means GRI Realtors understand the impact that energy efficiency has on housing, for example. They are also trained to have a unique understanding of homeowner associations. For instance, GRI Realtors are well versed on the implications of local legislation that can affect condo communities -- not just the value of the property but also how covenants restrict the ability of a buyer to purchase and a seller to sell.

"It's the things I didn't learn when I started at my brokerage," said Ryan Hightower, GRI at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Arlington, TX. "I learned a lot of tips and tricks."

Hightower says becoming a GRI broadcasts to consumers that "I care about my profession and that I'm not just there to make a buck."

Hightower and Realtors like him are setting themselves apart by investing in their profession. Hightower boasted on Twitter that he is one of only 9% of Texas Realtors to hold the GRI designation.

"I'm more efficient, more knowledgeable, and more confident," he said.

In today's market of low inventory and low interest rates, it may make sense to get off the fence and get into the market -- with the help of the best professionals available.

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