History of the Council of Residential Specialists


The Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) is an organization which certifies career residential real estate professionals who are, or aspire to be, respected industry experts and value the education, credentials, and opportunity that certification provides. Unlike other residential real estate professional membership organizations, CRS has stringent requirements for designation, including education and market experience, and is the internationally recognized industry gold standard, providing superior education, exceptional referral and networking opportunities, and relevant, timely resources to keep dedicated professionals and those they serve on the proven path to success.

Founded in 1976, the Council of Residential Specialists is the largest not-for-profit affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®. It comprises an international network of more than 33,000 top real estate professionals who must maintain membership in the National Association of REALTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics. Only an estimated 4 percent of all real estate professionals have attained the CRS Designation.

The Council traces its history back to 1923 when the REALTORS® National Marketing Institute (RNMI, then known as the National Institute of Real Estate Brokers) was established to provide brokers with the essential knowledge, information and tools to help promote cooperation among its members. In the 1960s, the Institute realized the need for education in the specialized field of brokerage, and established divisions for commercial real estate and residential brokerage. By 1974, the residential brokerage division began to discuss the development of training courses for sales agents that could potentially lead to a professional designation. Those plans culminated in 1977 when charter members who had demonstrated extensive experience and knowledge of residential real estate received the Certified Residential Specialist Designation. In 1985, RNMI endowed what was then called the Residential Sales Council, Real Estate Brokerage Managers Council and the Commercial-Investment Real Estate Council with their own bylaws and governing powers.

Today, the Council continues to work toward the advancement of residential sales professionals. Its classroom and online educational programs teach professionals the latest solutions and strategies they need to build their business and develop a referral network. The Council also provides members with business tools and networking events to help them compete and succeed in the industry. These tools include the bi-monthly magazine The Residential Specialist, the CRS website and online community, the CRS Membership Referral Directory, the CRS Reviewed Product Program, and annual education and networking events such as Sell-a-bration®. Council members also can join their area CRS chapters, which are managed independently by members and provide a valuable venue for additional real estate training, skills development and networking at the grassroots level.