In the early 2000s, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) developed the e-PRO® certification program to teach real estate professionals how to effectively use technology to grow their businesses. Since then, a collaborative effort between the National Association of REALTORS® and the Social Media Marketing Institute (SMMI) has prompted the development of a new e-PRO® curriculum that focuses on the most recent developments in real estate technology. Here, we introduce the e-PRO® certification, discuss its benefits and explain the certification process.
What Is the e-PRO® Certification?
The e-PRO® certification program is designed to teach real estate professionals the technology skills they need to serve today's increasingly connected consumers. The two-day e-PRO® course explores topics such as:
- Social media technologies and techniques, including Facebook and Twitter
- Internet marketing
- E-mail marketing
- Web strategies and online presence
- Digital media (photos, videos and online sharing)
The Internet and social media have become increasingly important to the real estate industry as more consumers look to the Web to conduct research and make purchasing decisions. Today, 62% of adults worldwide use some form of social media via computers, smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices. A study by digital marketing agency ODM Group shows that 74% of consumers depend on social networks to steer their purchase decisions.
The real estate industry is not immune to these modern consumer habits; according to data from the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the Internet is the primary source of information used by consumers in a home search. The e-PRO® certification program helps prepare real estate professionals to embrace technology and better serve today's connected consumers.
The e-PRO® certification provides the opportunity to learn the technology and techniques that can help you serve clients and market your real estate business more effectively. The e-PRO® certification demonstrates to your potential clients that you utilize technology and social media to help sellers market their homes, and help buyers find homes. As an e-PRO® certificate holder, you can use the e-PRO® logo and name for all your marketing materials, including business cards and your web site. In addition, you will have access to customizable marketing materials, an online referral network, a downloadable certificate, free e-PRO® webinars and a searchable, customizable e-PRO® online profile.
The e-PRO® certification counts as an elective credit for other designations, including the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), Certified International Property Specialist (CISP) and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations. It also counts as an elective credit for the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification. As long as you remain a current member of the National Association of REALTORS®, you can continue to use the e-PRO® certification with no annual dues or recertification fees. Past e-PRO® students can take refresher courses as new content becomes available, at a discounted rate.
e-PRO® Certification Process
To earn the e-PRO® Certification, you must be a member in good standing of the National Association of REALTORS® and successfully complete a two-day e-PRO® course. Day one of the course is offered online in a Day 1/Day 2 bundle through REALTOR® University, or in a live classroom setting (day one is not available as a stand-alone online course). Day two is offered exclusively online and can be taken as part of the Day 1/Day 2 bundle through REALTOR® University, or as a stand-alone course online.
The first day of the course covers the changing real estate market, modern consumers and how to use modern real estate technologies to your advantage. Specifically, topics for day one include:
- Trends in online real estate marketing and technology
- Connecting with consumers online
- Creating an online presence
- Reputation management and measurement
- Intellectual rights and ethics on the Web
- REALTOR® Code of Ethics
- Social media hazards
- Overview of e-PRO® Toolbelt
The second day of the course (which is available online only) provides a hands-on experience using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and explains how these tools and technologies can be used to build your real estate business. The curriculum for day two includes:
- E-Office (cloud computing, Contact Relationship Management software, online transactions, etc)
- E-Networks (social networks used by real estate professionals, creating effective profiles, privacy concerns, risk management techniques, etc)
- Microblogging and geotagging
- Rich media (review of cameras, how to take better digital photographs, photo editing and formatting, videos, sharing platforms, etc.)
- Integrating your online efforts
Once you have completed both days of the coursework, you will automatically be awarded the e-PRO® certification and can start using the logo and name in your marketing materials.
The Bottom Line
Today's consumers are connected, and the majority of adults now depend on the Internet and some form of social media to make their purchasing decisions, including real estate. The e-PRO® certification program teaches you use available technology to your advantage – helping you market your real estate business more effectively and improving the real estate experience for your buyers and sellers.