As a short sale investor, our company is often approached by agents and brokers who wish to work with us, claiming to be "certified experts" in short sales, foreclosures, or distressed properties. The term "expert" means many different things to different people. It has often been my experience that being "certified" or making the claim of "expert" has little to do with having an in depth understanding of the nuances, complexities, or patience it requires to work with short sales or REOs. This is especially true with agents who struggle to understand these deals from an investor's point of view.
At last count, with a simple Google search, anyone can find hundreds of different programs to become "certified" in distressed property sales. I won't attempt to debate here which programs are better than others or even which of these is recognized as valid in the Realtor community. I can only share that many agent friends of mine readily admit that simply attending a course for a few hours or a couple of days and then receiving a certificate or credentials that allow the use of initials or acronyms after their title, doesn't prepare them for the realistic trials, obstacles, or sophistication of these transactions. A few even admit that the information being provided at these events is dated or outright wrong.
From my (and my investor colleagues') perspective, certifications have little to do with whether we elect to work with an agent. What matters is whether they can collaborate with us in the following ways:
1.) Can they understand our business model? And, can they work with it?
2.) Do they have an in-depth understanding of their local market?
3.) Based on our criteria can they locate potential properties for us to purchase?
4.) Can they maintain their patience and perseverance throughout the entire transaction?
I understand that the present real estate market has changed and support the idea that agents should have a basic education and nomenclature in distressed properties transactions. But labeling education as "certified" (in some cases) is a misleading marketing ploy and not appropriate. Maybe "certification" should be a matter of the numbers of deals completed, commissions earned, or the degree to which an agent can collaborate with their team. Bottom line, our view of the criteria that makes an agent an "expert" or "certified" is whether they have the experience, business acumen, and network savvy to put together and close deals! These are always the people we look to work with.