New York Residential Specialists stand out above the crowd.  The new credential—the highest offered by the Real Estate Board of New York—encourages the best among us to step up to be recognized for our commitment to professional excellence and advanced education.  The designation—or its acronym NYRS—identifies those who meet qualifying criteria and complete an eight week educational course with renewal classes biannually.  For the industry, the new designation is all about raising the bar and maintaining high standards of professionalism, ethics and leadership.  For brokers who achieve the new title, a certain competitive edge is gained. For consumers, the credential is the industry’s quality control and veritable seal of approval.


Endorsed by REBNY, supported by its affiliate firms, and nurtured by a passionate 11-member NYRS Committee that I co-chair with Halstead’s Frank Russo, the program began in the fall of 2007.  Since then, with the most recent graduating class on April 2nd, more than 200 agents have achieved the status.  One of the beauties of the program—and there are many—is that it crosses the party lines of individual brokerage companies with representatives coming from more than 25 different firms.  The elite group comprises 2% of the 9,111 residential members of the Real Estate Board of New York, and the ranks are growing.  With courses offered in the spring and fall yearly, about 60 professionals are added to the NYRS network annually. 


From the beginning, the program has attracted successful agents looking to gain new perspectives and stay competitive.  Developed for brokers by brokers, the program addresses the unique challenges of New York City’s residential market.  Industry leaders and experts teach such classes as zoning, taxation, real estate law, development, negotiation, ethics and social media.  The curriculum, updated regularly, reflects changing market conditions and emerging issues.  Class size is kept small to encourage thoughtful participation and an open exchange of ideas.  Seventy-five percent of class hours satisfy state licensing requirements for license renewal, but a high percentage of agents who enroll are veterans with more than 15 years of experience for whom the continuing education requirement is waived. 


 Getting the word out


In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be introducing a new NYRS logo, launching a website, initiating digital advertising and embracing social media to raise awareness for the credential.  Jared M. Seeger, President of Knightsbridge Strategies who is overseeing the branding initiative notes, “Our team is thrilled to be able to work alongside the NYRS group.  These are some of the best agents I've seen in the business, and our focus is on helping buyers and sellers learn about these outstanding professionals.  Also, we're excited to reach out to prospective members who aren't aware of how the accreditation can help them in their business lives."


To date, eight companies have provided funds to underwrite the NYRS marketing program. Lead sponsor Citibank’s Sales Manager Jeffrey Appel observes, “We strongly believe in the importance of creating a distinct designation for real estate brokerage professionals who have established themselves among the top tier in their field through their outstanding sales volume, reputation, and commitment to their own professional development.  We’re confident this elite group of NYRS board certified brokers will continue to set the standard for excellence in our market.”


Among industry peers, the NYRS signature signals immediate credibility.  It connotes experience, expertise, and a demonstrated record of sales achievement.  NYRS Co-Chair Frank Russo, Halstead VP remarks, “The better educated and experienced professional—whether it be lawyer, doctor, tax advisor or real estate agent—is naturally sought after by consumers.  Buyers and sellers of New York real estate who are looking to hire an accredited professional will look for the preferred NYRS credential.” 


As the program grows and develops, networking opportunities are expanding.  The NYRS network brings high visibility to client listings through “NYRS Only” Open Houses maximizing exposure to New York City’s most influential agents.  The advance of the NYRS program is particularly important in today’s digital age where information is accessible and transparent—where buyers and sellers need to be able to identify the best professional who will add value to what is arguably the single most important financial transaction in their lives.  As a 30 year industry veteran, I’m proud to be among the leaders of the NYRS program and its network of agents who can be counted on not only to keep up with industry standards but to deliver results with professionalism and integrity.