EDUCATION AND THE PROFESSIONAL REALTOR.
It is a funny thing, education. For instance, I own five Guitars. I can no longer play a note without breaking a string, but I own them and I suppose, legally, I am allowed to play them, but would you pay me to do so? If you did, you certainly wouldn't be getting your money's worth. I can promise you that is a stone cold fact.
Just like those guitars, hanging on the wall or sitting in my sons room, they have become decoration and are seldom touched, sure I wipe the dust off them and occasionally one will be picked up and strummed to humor someone, but they are useless in the wrong hands.
Recently I have had the displeasure of meeting a Real Estate agent who treats his State Real Estate License as if it was one of those guitars, except, he believes he is a Real Estate Virtuoso. He has a license and LEGALLY SPEAKING, he is allowed to sell real estate anywhere in the State of Florida, but is he competent? After speaking to him on the phone several times and reading a few things that he has written, I would plead an impassioned.....NO! In fact, he demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of a bank Short Sale Authorization in one of his own advertisements.....This fact truly concerns me.
He has not participated, as far as one can tell, in any additional education, but markets himself as a short sale expert. The issue is that he is likely damaging clients irreparably and I dare say....leaping full force in front of the liability bus which steers itself dangerously down the road often without care or concern of those flattened in its wake.
And again, like those guitars, which I can legally play, I own them and I suppose I have "license" to play them, but does that make me a capable musician....not any more than having a Real Estate license makes one a professional REALTOR or owning a rifle makes one a Sniper*. It is training, dedication, and expertise that make those titles relevant.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO THE CONSUMER?
Everyone knows an Attorney, but is he or she the attorney that you would call if you were suddenly in need of a Certain Attorney? Would you call a Divorce Attorney if you needed a Criminal Defense Attorney, or a Patent Attorney if your car was destroyed in a hit and run? I HOPE your immediate answer is NO! Likewise, if you were to call the family practitioner, he/she would in all likelihood, tell you right away that he wants you to call a good attorney that he knows in the field that you need. You see, Attorneys know their limitations and specialties and tend to stay within those lines.
REALTORS may or may not immediately realize that same limitation. Having not played a round of golf in over ten years, (Army injury stopped my already suffering game) I would not be the guy to suddenly become the expert on Golf Course Real Estate. Absolutely I can find you the perfect house that fits your needs and if it just so happens to be on a golf course, well so be it. But if you are looking for a house, any house, but go into an elaborate description of courses, pars, grass types, window liability issues, greens fees and club memberships......I have the name of a Daily Golfing Realtor that would be the perfect guy for you, and my professional responsibility is to provide that name! (I'll meet you at the clubhouse for a Makers Mark, but that is where my course credibility ends)
Understanding the limitations or your Real Estate agent is paramount to your successful transaction, and while your cousin's, adopted brother's ex-girlfriend, may be the only one you know, she needs to be interviewed to ensure that she is able to complete the transaction in the agreeable fashion. If you feel that she is not capable of handling the transaction, don't be afraid to move on to one who is...it is your home and in the case of a pre-foreclosure, your future.
WHAT MAKES ONE A PROFESSIONAL?
This should be a separate blog, but first and foremost, it is dedication to ones profession and the clients whom they serve. EDUCATION is the key to maintaining that professionalism. As Real Estate professionals we are mandated, in Florida (varies from state to state) to seek continuing education at a minimum of 14 hours every two years. The problem is that the rules and law are changing much more rapidly than that and in some cases every few months.
Start with experience and education, designations such as GRI or CRS are indicative of a REALTOR who has gone the extra mile with their real estate career. But in today's marketplace, when some areas boast ratios of one in three homes on the market as a distressed homeowner, the two certifications to look for are SFR and CHS.
The newest CHS Certification which is the HAMP/HAFA professional certification. The Federal Government has stepped into the entire Foreclosure mess and attempted to streamline and add processes to the short sale process, but the system itself is somewhat counter intuitive and unless one gets the specialized training and certification, they may not be protecting their clients. That is not to say that there are GREAT REALTORS out there performing flawlessly for their clients without the training, there are naturals in every industry, but I have found that those folks are often the first to sign up for the classes, so the untrained-experts are few and far between and they achieved expert status by trial and error. When we are talking about pre-foreclosure homeowners, I would hate to meet the errors.
Another certification is the Nationally recognized SFR certification, or Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource. This National Association of Realtors Certification ensures that those in the Real Estate Profession who are representing distressed Homeowners are doing so with the utmost in experience and assistance from their fellow Realtors. Many of the SFR designees are at the forefront of the Short Sale and Foreclosure fight, and like myself, are actively contributing to our legislators to increase the governmental oversight, ensuring that the banks and lending institutions are not unfairly taking advantage of distresses homeowners.
In short, figure out what it is you need to accomplish and then find the expert for that endeavor. Don't sail the treacherous seas without an able captain, fly the skies with a bad pilot or navigate this process with your cousin's adopted brother's ex-girlfriend....after all, there's a reason that she's single.
I certainly hope this helps and if you have any questions, as always, feel free to drop a line at Gary@BayVistaRealty.com
*Sniper is a referenece to the Army and Marine Corp professionals who dedicate years honing their skills and use them in protection of this great nation. HOOAH and Semper Fi my brothers!