In late August, the National Association of Realtors® announced the introduction of their Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification Program (SFR). According to the NAR’s press release, “The program includes training on how to manage short-sale, foreclosure, and real-estate owned transactions, and provides resources to help Realtors® stay current on national and state-specific information as the market for these distressed properties evolves.”
But, while this program is a step in the right direction for the NAR–who finally seem to have realized (about a year late) that knowing how to process short sales and foreclosures successfully is essential for Realtors® seeking to flourish in today’s distressed market–it seems to fall a bit short of being the complete answer for a few key reasons.
First of all, while the program promises that the two core courses (members must complete one of the two to be certified) will be available in online versions in October and “at the end of 2009,” respectively, at this point, they are only offered in a one-day classroom format in minimal locations in 26 states (for example, the only course being offered in California is on November 12 at the NAR Conference and Expo in San Diego.) Since time is of the essence for Realtors® to get the skills and information they need to process short sales and foreclosures successfully, this lack of convenient locations is a real detriment to the program.
Secondly, as I alluded to in my introduction, the program seems relatively late in arriving, especially considering that all the coursework required for certification still isn’t available. In addition to the core courses not being available online until later this year, the online “webinars” Realtors® need for certification (they must complete three) won’t be available until early October. All of this makes the NAR’s announcement a little less inspiring.
Finally, while the program does seem to offer a fair amount of education for Realtors® looking for short sale and foreclosure processing expertise (or should I say will provide–once the courses and webinars are readily available), what it fails to deliver is much in the way of continuous updates on a short sale and foreclosure laws and regulations, access to each lender’s specific requirements and paperwork, and tools to market themselves to potential clients successfully. At the same time, the program’s website claims that it offers Realtors® opportunities to “Network with [they’re] peers, reach consumers and stay up-to-date on the latest news and events related to short sales and foreclosure transactions,” this is accomplished by joining the program’s Facebook page–hardly the severe and professional support you’d expect from a NAR certification program.
Ultimately, while the program has its merits, it’s clear that Realtors® who want to succeed in the short sale and foreclosure market will still require the help of third-party sources who specialize in providing the knowledge and support they need. This includes regular updates on applicable laws and regulations, specific lender packages and current submission requirements, and marketing and presentation tools to help sell themselves to clients. So, while adding “SFR Certified” to their resume will undoubtedly help Realtors® seeking to profit from the wealth of short sale and foreclosure opportunities currently available, utilizing an effective third-party source will still be necessary.