Special Certifications I Hold:
CSE (Certified Sparkle Examiner)
ELC (Expert-Level Cartwheeler)
MIATM (Master In All Things Mothering)
That’s right, my full title is: Elizabeth Newlin, REALTOR, CSE, ELC, MIATM. It’s kind of long, though, so you can just call me Certified Expert Master. That’s the important part.
To be a real estate agent in Arizona, I had to take 90 hours of education and pass both a school and state test. This got me my license, but little knowledge about how to actually successfully navigate the world of real estate. I walked away from the Scottsdale School of Real Estate about a grand poorer with an official-looking paper with a pretty seal and without a clue about how to actually find a house on the Multiple Listing System or even how to open a lockbox if I did find a house to show. Sure, I knew the definition of the word ‘easement’ and how to calculate tax prorations (which is actually title’s job, not mine), but no idea whatsoever how to write a contract and protect my client.
I have to take 24 hours of continuing education classes every two years to keep my license, and I’ve found these classes to be roughly as useful. Yes, I glean knowledge of a new legal issue every now and then, but by and large, my understanding and expertise in the business of real estate has come from actually working the job and collaborating with my peers. The real estate market is a constantly evolving animal. What is important to know today is obsolete tomorrow. This makes it tough to develop useful curriculum to teach on a large scale. I’ve found it’s much more useful to keep my eyes open and my ear to the ground.
There are a bunch of classes a Realtor can take that will earn them a ‘designation’, which is basically a certificate and an acronym after their name. GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) and GREEN (the NAR official, “I’m a giant hippie long-haired tree hugging Realtor” designation) are just a few offered. The designations come down to varying amounts of hours of classes and fees. GRI is a pretty hefty commitment of classes, while GREEN is like a 3 hour class.
A newish designation that has become very popular lately is CDPE, or Certified Distressed Property Expert. This set of classes is supposed to teach a Realtor how to deal with short sales and foreclosures.
I’ve closed my fair share of short sales (as listing agent and buyer’s agent) and foreclosures and I tend to be wary of agents with a laundry list of acronyms after their names (in real estate, those who ‘talk big’ are usually over compensating for a lack of action, if you know what I mean) so I haven’t actually taken the class, but I have it on good authority that it’s a two day event costing anywhere from $400 to $1000.
I recently had a buyer I’ve been working with for quite awhile walk into an open house. She informed the agent who was holding the house open that she was already working with an agent, but that she’d like to see the house. This was acceptable to the agent, so they got a tour, and a basic rundown of the situation of the house from the agent. They called me later to write an offer on the property (which was a short sale) and told me all about how this was going to be a fast short sale because the agent is an expert in short sales and she says it will be smooth.
When I contacted the agent to work out the details of the offer, I was also immediately informed that she was a CDPE and that this would all go smoothly. She also asked me for a laundry list of things to get the offer submitted, including my client’s full earnest money to be deposited with title immediately (this is practically unheard of in a short sale, because the transaction is so up in the air until approval from the lender is received, earnest is almost always deposited after approval is obtained). As we continued to discuss things and I pried further, it quickly came out that this was the very first short sale she had EVER been a part of. She was an ‘expert’ with no experience whatsoever. The CDPE class had told her to have earnest money deposited immediately AND to have the buyer start inspections and appraisal as soon as possible as well, which is in direct contradiction with the Short Sale Addendum of the Arizona Approved Contract and utterly ludicrous (as you would know if you read my last post).
Here’s the sucky thing about all of this: Yes, I pretty much want to create a class and call it the “Designations Are As Important In RE As A Coach Purse To My 18 Year Old Cat” and label it the DAAIIREAACPTMEYOC designation in protest of all of this, BUT, I am quite aware that real estate is about 75% perception. A client to believe you know what you’re talking about is almost as important as actually knowing what you’re talking about. So I have a class on the schedule for March 12. It’s not an actual designation, and I’ve been warned by people who’ve taken it that I won’t learn a single thing, but then apparently if I’m ever sued over a short sale issue I can say, “What? I took a class! I’m totally an expert!”