Here’s the bad news: real estate sales are down, mortgage foreclosures are up, and financing can be hard to get. Here’s the good news: many agents are still making a living selling real estate, and some of them are making a great living. What is the determining factor between agents who have to find a “day job” and those who are successful? Years of experience count, as does marketing savvy. But it can also be a matter of credentials. That’s where real estate designations come in.
Home buyers and sellers are well aware of the current challenges facing the market, and are more likely than ever to look for agents with extra qualifications. Real estate designations indicate hands-on, practical knowledge in a specialty area, giving potential clients more confidence in the agent's abilities. For example:
A seller has a high-end vacant home that cries out for the right furnishings. He might seek out a real estate agent with the Certified Staging Specialist designation.
And buyers who want bargains probably want an agent who holds at least one real estate designation in foreclosures or short sales.
Nationwide, you can choose from over 100 real estate designations that fall into about 9 categories: Residential, Commercial and Industrial, Property Management, Construction/New Homes, Inspection and Appraisal, Financial, Technology and Green Living, Land, and Foreclosures and Short Sales. (Keep in mind that NAR® and national brokerage franchises are not the only ones who offer real estate designations; it pays to look around.)
Where you want to specialize is up to you, of course, but it’s best to do a little research and figure out which designation would help you the most. For example, agents in the West know that foreclosure starts are up in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada. If this sounds like bad news, consider your buyers; between record-low mortgage rates and the increase in REO inventory, it’s a great market for first-time buyers. A shrewd buyer’s agent will learn more about what it takes to represent clients in distressed property transactions. There are several useful real estate designations for agents eager to make the most of these opportunities. A couple of examples are:
SFR Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource: http://www.realtorsfr.org/ Agents who obtain this certification are better equipped to handle the procedural and qualifying requirements for both short sales and foreclosure sales. Some of the courses overlap with course requirements for other residential designations as well.
BPOR Broker Price Opinion Resource: http://www.bpor.org/ Agents earning the BPOR certification receive specialized training in rendering accurate broker price opinions, and qualify to begin receiving BPO orders upon certification
Real estate designations can help you do your job better, plus give you a competitive edge in client acquisition. Not all programs are worthy of your time; due diligence is important. But if you do your research and pick a solid designation, you could open up a whole new market for yourself.
Check back later for Part II of this article, in which we’ll discuss how real estate designations and certifications can help you attract clients.
Remember, Rockwell Institute is always happy to answer your questions about real estate education.