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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

Throughout the month of November, during what we call Designation Awareness Month, we at the Center for REALTOR® Development—along with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and all of its affiliated Institutes, Societies and Councils—celebrate official NAR credentials.

If not already explained explicitly, official NAR credentials are called either “designations” or “certifications.” What’s the difference between the two?

For veteran REALTORS®, the answer is probably in their bones, in the fabric of their being—they just “know.” But for the newer REALTORS® among us, or those who have not yet had the opportunity to ask, this post is for you.

The essential difference between them is dues.

In order to obtain a designation, you need to take the required coursework and/or fulfill the specific requirements and sometimes pay a nominal application fee when you apply (but note that many designations require no application fee).

Once approved, you’ll need to pay dues on a recurring time frame in order to keep the credential active. If you do not continue to pay the dues for your designations, they will lapse, and in order to get them back, you may need to apply again or pay a re-instatement fee.

Below is the schedule of dues renewal for the specific NAR designations tied to the online designation courses offered at the Center for REALTOR® Development:

  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative® (ABR®) – First year free, second year prorated, third year $110 with a 5 percent discount if paid online before end of the year
  • Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) – One-time exam fee of $100, annual dues $445 ($350 first year with application)
  • Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) – One-time initial application fee of $75, first year dues are prorated, subsequent years are $220, billed annually in Quarter 4
  • Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) – One-time initial application fee of $75, annual dues $195
  • NAR’s Green Designation (GREEN) – First year free, $98.50 every year thereafter
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) – First year free, $99 every year thereafter
  • Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) – First year free, $99 every year thereafter

The reason for the annual dues is because designations offer substantial value-added benefits, which have substantial costs associated with them in order for the program to maintain them on behalf of its members. Some of these benefits include:

  • Free educational webinars
  • Digital resources, forms, and toolkits
  • Networking and referral opportunities, private social media groups
  • Consumer videos and promotional items, customizable marketing materials
  • Member newsletters and premium access to industry research and reports
  • Acknowledgement and differentiation at key sites and portals such as and®
  • Educational credit or discounts toward other education and credentials

Like designations, certifications are also specialized credentials for REALTORS®. The benefits they offer hold high value, but are not as extensive as those for designations. For this reason, maintaining a certification requires only an application fee and continued membership in NAR, but no annual dues. This doesn’t mean that the benefits associated with certifications aren’t valuable—they are! It’s just that in most cases they are not as extensive or resource-intensive for the Association to maintain. The benefits included with certifications are a subset of those listed earlier here for designations, and most often include webinars and e-newsletters.

Once you have a certification, the only way you can “lose” it is if you let your NAR membership lapse. Even then, once you re-instate your membership, you should be able to re-instate your certification at the same time. For reference, below are the application fees for the specific NAR certifications tied to the online certification courses offered at the Center for REALTOR® Development:

  • At Home With Diversity® (AHWD®) – $75.00
  • Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (C-RETS) – $159.00
  • Military Relocation Professional (MRP) – $195.00
  • NAR’s e-PRO® Certification (e-PRO®) – $110.50
  • Pricing Strategy Advisor Certification (PSA) – $179.00
  • Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) – $194.50
  • Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource® (SFR®) – $175.00

In the case of both designations and certifications, in order for them to stay active and recognized, you must maintain active NAR membership at all times.

To celebrate Designation Awareness Month, during the month of November, all online designation and certification courses offered in the online format through the Center for REALTOR® Development at its site are 20% off their regular price. For more information about Designation Awareness Month, visit

For more information, please visit RISMedia’s new online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.

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