Are Real Estate Agent Designations Worth the Money?

by |

At a recent speaking engagement on my favorite topic (short sales), one of the agents in the audience asked about all of the different designations and certifications available for those who want to specialize in distressed properties.

One designation that I am aware of is the SFR Designation, which you can obtain through the National Association of Realtors®. I’m also familiar with the Certified Distressed Property Expert designation (CDPE).

Many Realtors® across the nation have recently received invitations to short sale certification programs of all sorts (which is probably why I got the question at the workshop). Some of those designations are offered by various companies throughout the United States and cost upwards of $300. I was asked whether these designations are valid, why they are important, and what they can do to impact the real estate agent.

Those are great questions. When I receive an invitation to participate in a class or consider a certification or a designation, I always want to know what I am going to get out of it. For example, if I want to learn about short sales and how to work the distressed property market, it is not necessarily important to me whether I will receive the designation. The most important thing for me is to learn about how to work in the distressed market in order to maximize my profit and to help my clients to resolve their real estate-related problems. So do I have to pay $300 to do that?

Sometimes I may, sometimes I may not.

However, there are some certification and designation programs that might have other benefits to me. For example, I know that in the REO market a few years back, there were many, many certification programs that were available to agents that stated that participation in the certification program would get the agent on special lists so that they could receive the benefit of REO transactions. If something like this was legitimate and I wanted REO listings, then maybe I would spend the money.

In general, it seems important to consider what you read on the Internet and to investigate all programs before shelling out a dime. So, with regard to all of the certifications and designations currently available, I would say that we get so many invitations to participate in designation programs that cost quite a bit of money, but the most important thing to do is to consider is how each will work with our business plan, and how well the program will help to improve our business in the future. It doesn’t matter whether the program comes from Harvard University or somewhere else. It’s important to consider who endorses the program, the certification, or the designation.

Does the invitation come from an Internet quack or a legitimate purveyor of information?

If you receive an invitation to buy a short sale certification in the near future (or any other certification program), I would certainly look into how it’s going to benefit your business and your clients before you drop three Franklins into the hat.

Photo: Mararie

About Author

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®. Before landing real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Many folks say that Melissa is genetically pre-disposed to success with short sales. In fact, last year she and her staff obtained over 500 short sale approval letters! When she isn’t speaking with lien holders, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.


  1. What I have found is that the best way to get good at short sales is by doing them. We are both CDPE and HAFA certifed. The certifications do provide some credibility to your marketing and what I most appreciate about the CDPE designation is that they are on top of changes that come about through new law and with recent bank protocol. So for my money I would say that at least the CDPE is worth it.

  2. A designation alone does not necessarily translate into more sales in any industry. The content and delivery method of the course, as well as the experience and knowledge base of the instructor(s) is paramount in turning a “designation” into profit. Does it matter how much the course costs (designation or not) if the information is truly relevant, useful, AND valuable? Beware of fluff!

  3. Great article! Something I have been recently interested in as well.
    There are a few designations I am personally interested in but I believe they will ultimately help my business as well as educate myself a little more in certain areas of my interest.

  4. Hey Melissa, great article…I came across it as I’m in the process of developing a Lease Option Certification for Realtors.

    I’ve become an expert in this niche and have developed systems that have made it possible for buyers and sellers to come together that otherwise would not have had the opportunity.

    Unfortunately, Real Estate Agents have very little if any understanding or experience with alternative financing solutions…leaving a flood of potential prospects with no other options but to rent a home, or for sellers…short-sell or foreclose.

    I generate more gross commissions now than I ever have in my 13 years of real estate (and I’ve had some very successful years) which proves that if you help people get what they want, you will get what you want.

    Thanks again for the article.


Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here