A real estate agent who wants to become a residential specialist needs to complete education and experience requirements to receive this official designation. Membership in the Council of Residential Specialists is also required, and people need to renew their membership to keep the designation active. Use of the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) logo and language by people who haven’t earned it can result in sanctions from official organizations, as well as a lawsuit for false representation.
Residential specialists focus on residential real estate transactions. Becoming a Certified Residential Specialist can provide an assurance to clients that an agent has substantial experience in the field and is comfortable handling a variety of transactions from large to small. Clients may preferentially seek out residential specialists, especially for large, complex, or delicate real estate sales. The process to become a residential specialist allows people to develop and demonstrate skills.
Experience standards set by the Council of Residential Specialists require people to oversee a set number of transactions, or a set dollar amount, within a given period of time to become a residential specialist. These standards periodically change to reflect changes in the real estate market as well as the impact of inflation on housing prices, and are ranked at several tiers. Additionally, agents need to take continuing education courses, some of which must be offered by the Council of Residential Specialists directly rather than being taken through a third party. Online classes are available for people who cannot travel to meet this requirement.
The Council of Residential Specialists offers an Option A, Option B, Pro Program, and Manager designation. A person applying to become a residential specialist in the Pro Program also needs to have held a valid real estate license for at least 10 years. This requirement is not in place for the other subtypes of CRS designation. Along with the application documenting completion of all the requirements, candidates should make sure they also provide proof of current membership in the organization.
After the documentation is reviewed, a real estate agent will receive notice with information about whether it was approved. Once someone has become a residential specialist, official documentation should be sent within several days. This allows the agent to use the CRS designation in advertising materials and information about a real estate agency. Members of the organization who aren’t certified specialists can advertise themselves as general members, but cannot imply that they hold a certification.