An Investor's Viewpoint: What Makes an Agent a "Certified Expert"?

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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.


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Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Interesting post and frankly because of the wide range of banks involved in short sale, foreclosure and REO properties as well as the constantly changing ways that each of these are handled make it impossible for anyone to be a complete "expert" Frankly, this mess is going to end one day and all of this so-called expertise will mean nothing!

Jul 20, 2010 02:34 AM #1
Mary Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Roswell, GA
Top Agents Atlanta Metro

Being an expert and being someone who can get the deal done, has the saavy to work with people and also the knowledge is not always reflected in a certification.  Like everyone else, the buyer or seller needs to do their due diligence.  If someone has a credible designation, at least we know they have put some time into their education.  Not all the designations are the same.

Jul 20, 2010 02:39 AM #2
Craig Hilbun
The Hilbun Team - Lake Elsinore, CA
Your Neighborhood Agent

This is funny you wrote about this expert subject.  Just 1 week ago we were at dinner with a family friend and they told us they put their house on the market as a short sale.  They did not even talk to us about it!  They listed with another agent, because they needed a 'short sale' expert'.  I asked them, 'what's makes them an expert?'  They couldn't answer and apologized.

To say the least, they promised to let us find them a home when they're ready to purchase down the road.


Jul 24, 2010 03:37 AM #3
Michael Collins
*ROCK REALTY|Broker|Realtor|Real Estate|WI Short Sale Agent* - Janesville, WI
CDPE, SFR , Wisconsin Short Sale Specialist Realto

I couldn't agree more Tara.  I was doing short sales before this meltdown occurred.  I recently decided to get 'Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource' certified just so the public didn't pass me by like Craig above.

Needless to say, although they provided a great deal of information, it was nothing I hadn't already learned through experience.

Jul 29, 2010 07:39 AM #4
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