Last week, a client of mine sent me a letter in the mail addressed to “Steve Belt, GRI”. It made me go, “hmmm.” It made me think this client probably didn’t know what GRI meant, or why it was next to my name. I’m a bit proud of the GRI designation, which is why it appears next to my name. However, I rarely bring up the designation, thus I’m sure the majority of my clients (and not just her) are uncertain what it is or why they should care.
The GRI designation refers to being a Graduate, REALTOR® Institue. To earn this designation, primarily all you need to do is attend a bunch of real estate classes and pass the test that is at the conclusion of each class. Nearly 140 hours worth of classes and 10 tests. And the 140 hours will take at least 16 full days to complete. On a fast track, getting your GRI will take at least 2 months. As a reference, in pre-licensing, you only need 90 hours to get your license in Arizona, and you can get that done in 2 weeks.
The benefit of the GRI program is that the classes have content that will help you as a real estate agent, not classes designed to help you pass the State licensing exam. The questions on the state licensing exam are primarily filled with real estate trivia that in truth rarely comes up in my day-to-day. I’m glad to know that there are 43,560 feet in an acre, but to be honest, knowing there are approximately 45,000 feet in an acre is far more useful. That’s the difference between the GRI and pre-licensing or post-licensing continuing education. You get useful information.
As an example, there’s an 8 hour class on property management for property managers. I took the first offering of that class when they were beta testing it, and I was thrilled with the experience and knowledge of the instructor. The lessons I learned in that class continue to prove useful for me today, and without the learnings from that class, I doubt I could be a successful property manager.
As another example, there’s a 2 day finance class, that has excellent info on VA and FHA programs. I remember taking the class thinking the information wasn’t and wouldn’t be very useful, because sellers weren’t willing to agree to the conditions to support a VA or FHA buyer. That was 4 years ago. Fortunately enough of it sank in, because it’s very useful and practical today.
Agents that have the GRI designation, due to the relatively high time cost to taking all of the classes, are agents that are clearly investing in themselves as a means to provide better service to their clients. The GRI designation doesn’t indicate productivity or years of experience or even just “buying your way” to a designation. It’s one of the few designations that takes a bit of work to complete, and I think equally importantly, yields real benefit to those that have completed it.
If you are curious about other designations that agents may have in Arizona, you can find a list of the alphabet soup designations here, on Arizona’s Association of Realtors website.