Numbers are More Important Than Letters

J Philip Faranda February 14, 2009

My BA is in English. I am far more of a man of letters than of numbers.  I’ve always sort of disliked math, unless it was related to money or baseball stats.  But there are times when numbers are clearly more imprtant than letters. Take for example a recent conversation I had with an agent on one of my listings:

Me: This is a short sale. It is contingent on price approval from the seller’s lender.

Her: Has the short sale been approved yet?

Me: No, we haven’t had an offer yet. But when we do, I can assure you that we’ll get it done as smoothly as possible. I have done dozens of short sales.

Her: Oh, I am a short sale expert too. I’m a certified pre-foreclosure(or whatever) property expert.

Me: (scratching head, going through metal rolo-dex because I never heard of the person): Oh? How many short sales have you closed?

Her: Well, none yet.

So here we have a person who has paid her money, gone to a class, and gets to put some initials after her name. And the first time she’s on hold for 40 minutes with a loss mitigation department she may well decide she’ll never do a short sale again. And she’ll be cutting her teeth on the file of some poor slob who thinks he’s in good (expert) hands.

I don’t see how it can possibly be anything other than MISLEADING to bill oneself as an “expert” or “certified”  at something one has never done. I think classes are just fine, but many professions require an apprenticeship before giving someone their wings. This is so for appraisers,  electricians, plumbers, physicians and many other fields.

Everyone has to start somewhere, but there are right and wrong ways of getting into short sales. And, believe me, the WRONG way is to fly solo on the back of an unsuspecting public. If you want to earn commission in short sales, there are two good ways of doing so if you are a neophyte:

  • Work for a broker who does a high volume of short sales
  • Find short sales and refer them to someone who does lots of them in exchange for a referral fee.

I wouldn’t want a neophyte performing open heart surgery on me, defending my life in court, or caring for my autistic son. I want the BEST, no matter what the initials after their name are. It should be the same with real estate transactions that must close to avoid a foreclosure. Sadly, the direction our profession is going is to obfuscate who is truly qualified for short sales, to the detriment of our clientele. It also does a disservice to the GRIs, ABRs and CRSs of the world, whose initials DO mean something of value.

To the consumer: Don’t count the letters after their name, count the number of successful short sales they’ve closed.

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