In response to requests from its members, and the regularity of short sales and foreclosure-related transactions, the National Association of Realtors has launched a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification program.

"Someone that comes out of the program will have enough education to be a resource," said Kristen Short, managing director of education for the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council of NAR.

In response to requests from its members, and the regularity of short sales and foreclosure-related transactions, the National Association of Realtors has launched a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification program.

"Someone that comes out of the program will have enough education to be a resource," said Kristen Short, managing director of education for the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council of NAR.

"It will familiarize them with the terminology … and give them a road map to manage these transactions."

To earn SFR certification, Realtors must complete a one-day REBAC education program or the Council of Residential Specialists’ (CRS) Short Sales and Foreclosures single-day course. A Realtor must also complete three one-hour webinars.

Since 2007 REBAC has offered a foreclosure program to NAR members, though as part of the certification program the course has recently been revamped with an increased focus on Realtor-to-lender communications and negotiations.

According to Lori Cox, co-author of the program and instructor for REBAC, the one-day program will also focus on: questions to ask listing agents; checklists agents should use to confirm the seller is a short-sale candidate or the buyer is prepared for a short-sale transaction; questions to ask lenders; and how to proceed once a contract has been signed.

"There’s really no fluff in this class at all," she said. "We hit the ground running … it’s eight hours of meat."

Similarly, CRS’ short sales and foreclosure course is a practical one-day program focused on practices, rather than theories, related to topics including how to protect your client’s interests.

By taking the CRS course, Realtors are on their way to SFR certification while also earning credits toward becoming a certified residential specialist, said Mary Beth Ciukaj, director of education for CRS.

While both one-day courses are likely to be intensive, Cox cautioned that a Realtor who achieves SFR certification is by no means an instant expert in foreclosures and short sales. …CONTINUED

"It’s important that real estate professionals accurately represent their experience and knowledge," Short concurred, adding NAR will not be officially awarding certification to members until October.

The REBAC program is offered through a network of 150 providers that include state/local associations, proprietary schools and franchises throughout the nation.

Short said nearly 100 instructors have been approved to teach REBAC and the various providers determine class sizes.

Aside from NAR’s SFR certification, there are other short-sale and foreclosure programs, including the Certified Distressed Property Expert designation, http://www.cdpe.com.

Offered by the Boca Raton, Fla.-based Distressed Property Institute LLC, this designation has been endorsed by RE/MAX International — Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX, is a member of the CDPE Board of Advisors.

Liniger recently announced that more than 7,500 RE/MAX agents would receive the CDPE training in 2009.

The designation focuses on how to handle short sales and involves a two-day training course either online or in person. The course includes the 170-page Distressed Property Field Manual and electronic short-sale forms.

The advisory board for the CDPE designation also includes: Howard Brinton, founder of Star Power Systems; Bob Corcoran, founder of Corcoran Coaching and Consulting; Brian Buffini, founder of Buffini and Company; and David Knox, founder of Knox Productions.

As of Aug. 11 of this year, more than 10,000 real estate professionals had achieved this designation, according to a CDPE release.

Offered by Agent University through Foreclosure.com, the Certified Foreclosure Agent program focuses on all aspects of distressed real estate sales. …CONTINUED

Also based in Boca Raton, the Certified Foreclosure Agent Program is accredited by the American Society of REO Specialists and the American Real Estate University.

To become a certified foreclosure "specialist," an agent needs to complete at least three program courses, which each run about 2.5 hours long. Courses include: "REO/Post Foreclosure 201," "Preforeclosure 202," "Short Sales 210," "Short Sales 212," "Foreclosure Marketing 215," "Jump Start a Booming REO Business 230," "Working with REO Buyers 235," "Effective REO Property Listing Management 240," and "Financing Your REO Property 245."

An agent must also take a certification exam to earn the "specialist" designation.

Some state and local Realtor groups also offer specialized training to handle sales of distressed properties.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors offers a one-day Loss Mitigation Certification course, for example, that is aimed at equipping Realtors to work on transactions associated with foreclosures, REOs, short sales and auctions.

REBAC will be offering its SFR program at this year’s Realtor Conference & Expo, which runs from Nov. 13-16 in San Diego, Calif.

Short said all application fees for SFR certification will be waived through the end of this year for Realtors who have previously completed REBAC or CRS training courses related to distressed properties.

Erik Pisor is a freelance writer in California.

Editor’s note: Inman News has released the results and analysis of a survey focused on the state of the market for distressed properties. This Inman News Case Study, "A Changed Market: Short Sales and REOs: An In-Depth Look at Distressed-Property Trends," is available for purchase at Inman.com. Click here for details.

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