Certification or Designation: Which One is Right for Your Luxury Resume?

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Your competition is fierce as a luxury real estate professional; winning a high-valued listing helps you earn more and open up the door to more referrals. Affluent clients who want to sell their homes are looking for a real estate professional with extensive knowledge of the luxury housing market and the experience needed to sell their homes for top market price.

It’s advisable for real estate professionals to seek a niche in the real estate sector and pursue certification or designation after obtaining their license. Having one or both of these credentials is essential to help get your name out there with affluent clients. But what are the differences between real estate certificates and designations, and how do you pursue them? We explore the differences in this article and discuss when one may be more suitable than the other.

Difference Between Certificate and Designation

The main difference between a certification and designation is the benefits for the real estate professional after completing the required coursework and specific requirements from credible associations. Once approved for a designation, you’ll be required to pay recurring dues to keep your credentials active and possibly the association’s membership fees. On the other hand, a certification doesn’t require any dues to maintain active status, but you still have to pay the association’s membership fees to use the certification.

Designations require dues because they offer valuable benefits for real estate professionals (which in turn requires more money from the membership to keep the association going). Some benefits include but are not limited to: free webinars and training, digital resources, networking opportunities, promotional collaterals, and premium access to industry research and reports.

Since certifications don’t require dues, their benefits are less extensive — but they’re still valuable! The association you acquired the certification from will need an active membership to access resources such as e-newsletters and industry webinars.

Figuring out which type of credentials is right for you depends on your professional niche in the real estate industry. In the luxury real estate market, successful professionals seek the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS™) designation to improve their skills and increase their sphere of influence.

Understanding the CLHMS™ Designation

One example of a real estate designation that professionals in the luxury market may want to consider is the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS™) designation, which the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing offers.

Specifically, the CLHMS™ designation helps real estate professionals transition into the upper-tier residential market, building their authority and knowledge as luxury market experts. Currently, this designation is only available for active members of The Institute.

Those interested in earning this designation should start by completing The Institute’s Luxury Home Marketing Training, which is available in your choice of three formats:

  • Luxury Live or Livestream is a two-day event (virtually or in-person) with a designated instructor, created for professionals with no luxury sales experience.
  • Luxury Online is an on-demand, eight-hour course that you can take at your own pace and does not require any luxury sales experience.
  • Advanced Online is another on-demand, four-hour training course for those who already have some luxury sales experience under their belts.

Regardless of the format you choose, you’ll be able to apply for the CLHMS™ designation upon completion. Additionally, the designation requires you to complete the training and close on three separate residential transactions within 24 months at or above the Luxury Threshold in each transaction’s market area. These transactions do not have to be from the same market area.

Once you’ve met all the criteria, you can fill out your application form and submit it (along with required supporting documents) to the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing to receive your designation. You can add the designation to your resume and start standing out from your competitors in the luxury market! Bonus, you’ll have access to the Institute’s various resources, such as our monthly Luxury Market Report.

What if You Don’t Yet Qualify for the CLHMS™ Designation?

If you don’t currently qualify for the CLHMS™ designation based on your transactions and closing alone, don’t fret. Many real estate professionals looking to transition into the luxury residential market don’t have the sales experience to quality right away under their belts. This is precisely why the program comes with extensive training, providing you with the information and support you need to start closing on high-end deals.

Most members who enroll in the CLHMS™ program find that they can earn their designations within a year or two after completing their training.
So, if you’re serious about standing out with a luxury real estate designation on your resume, it’s time to explore the CLHMS™ designation with the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. If you have further questions or wish to enroll in the program, reach out to our team today.


  1. I am interested in CLHMS certification and would like to learn more about the designation. Do I get referrals if I have a designation versus a certification

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