In the past few weeks we've written entries on the benefits of professional designations (Does Your Career Need a Jump-Start? and Want to Attract More Clients?). Clients and customers appreciate the practical skills and extra training indicated by bona fide designations, such as NAR’s Green Designation or the National Association of Home Builders' Certified New Home Specialist Designation.
Unfortunately, the drive for business advantage provided by designations has led to practices that are questionable or even downright fraudulent. Most of the problems center around both licensed and unlicensed individuals using various designations such as "expert," "certified," or "specialist" in relation to short sales, loan modifications, fraud investigation, and loss mitigation—the dismal list goes on.
A recent California Department of Real Estate bulletin of relevance to licensees everywhere noted “many of these designations and claims seem to be nothing more than marketing ploys by unscrupulous fraudsters to capitalize on the desperation and vulnerability of unsophisticated and/or financially strapped homeowners.”
Obviously, a blog entry by Rockwell isn't likely to dissuade "fraudsters" from their evil ways. Still, it's worth reminding licensees to take extra care when using designations related to distressed homeowners. Make sure you have the experience and training to back up the words on your business card.
The DRE bulletin went on to say, “an increasing number of companies [are] offering expensive courses, materials and “leads” that have no meaningful or substantive content and which are designed to allow those who pay for the same to claim they have ‘certifications’ – which are, in effect, worthless. Licensees should be cautious and only choose reputable courses, with quality content, for certification.”
Many agents are bombarded with emails that offer to make them an "expert" in a few hours for just a few dollars. Don't waste the money—adding a credential that misleads your clients and customers risks trouble sooner or later. Stay legit. It will pay over the long haul.
Remember, Rockwell Institute is always happy to answer your questions about real estate education.