I am BiggerPockets Certified

17 Replies

  Okay, between the podcasts and the forums it's clear that it is not easy to find good help, particularly property managers and contractors.  We've all heard or read how instead of spending their time finding new deals or working on their businesses, many real estate investors are forced to deal with poor communications, unexpected expenses, no-shows, and worse.

  No doubt there are many good property managers and contractors out there, but the bad ones seem to get all the attention.  What we need is a system that recognizes the exceptional ones and also offers a pathway for improvement to the less-than-stellar ones.

So here's a thought: why not create a BiggerPockets certification program? Professional certifications already exist in hundreds of professions from finance to medicine to supply chain management, among others. Certifications assure an individual's qualification to perform a job or task and are typically issued by universities or agencies appointed to safeguard public interest. BP is neither, but occupies such a large swath of the REI space that to say, "I am BiggerPockets certified" would carry immense clout.

  It could work like this, a syllabus is created incorporating all the best practices of, say, a property manager so that when the course of study is completed the newly BP-certified property manager understands and employs all the best practices (mandating automatic rent payments and providing monthly e-mail updates, for example).  Certification could last  for a set period of time and there could be a social media aspect to it, including ratings and reviews.

  The benefit to the BP-certified individual is the clout certification brings and the ability to charge slightly higher fees, perhaps.  The real estate investor may endure these higher fees but will make up for it by spending less time and energy dealing with lower quality help.  In a sense, BP certification ensures everyone is on the same sheet of music.

  Naturally there are many details to work out but I see a real opportunity here.  Any thoughts?


P.S. A Certified Property Manager qualification already exists, conferred by the Institute of Real Estate Management.  My proposal is specific to BiggerPockets community of like-minded folks.

@?brieschmidt check it out

Hmm, this did not generate much interest--surprising since I wrote it before  episodes 100 and 101 which brought this issue up yet again.  Come on @Joshua Dorkin , whatd'ya think?

I actually love this idea, but it is a serious undertaking.  Given the lack of excitement in the thread, I'd certainly be a little hesitant to do more research.  If this thread had a more significant positive response - well, I too would be far more excited to explore it.

I'd love the idea. Or maybe a forum for recommended contractors

I think it's a great idea. More transparency in who is good or bad would be good for both investors and the good providers. Biggerpockets has enough name recognition among investors to make it at least plausable it could pull it

@Account Closed  to consider, if somebody marketing themselves as a BP certified property manager that was NOT a licensed real estate broker (or did not meet other legal requirements depending on their locale), what potential liability exists for BP.

I understand the concept behind the original post, but there are some potential pitfalls to consider as well.  Maybe the simple "twist" to incorporate would be to remove the "certified" part as it implies a level of professional training and could falsely be used as a credential.  The education might still be offered, just in a package described differently.

In my opinion, there are numerous ways to learn on BP.  HOWEVER, I think that anybody looking to become a professional investor in real estate really needs to look to multiple sources for their education, many much more local to where they live.  Laws and practices change from one town to the next, across state lines, and across international borders.  I've seen many forum posts where the correct answer to the question being asked is buried among many incorrect responses simply because it is so easy to "miss" the location of either the poster or the location of the property.  Bad advice is worse than no advice.

I like to participate on BP when I have time. But I also am active in my local REIA and continue my education to maintain a brokers license along with networking with other investors and government officials in my area to gain the most knowledge I can to manage properties to the highest of my ability. I will also say that I do all of this ONLY to manage my own properties as a professional. I broker only my own deals and manage only my own properties. This is my own personal choice, but so is my personal choice to seek as many different opportunities to continue to learn more about my profession as possible.

As Joshua said, this could turn into a huge project to try to set up and implement and as somewhat of an outsider, I would question whether it truly is on par with the mission of BP.  I will say that I think it was a cool suggestion to throw out there.  Maybe your original idea along with differing points of view will lead to something beneficial for all of us, even if it isn't exactly what either of us has in mind.

@Account Closed  

There are already several professional designations and organizations available for property managers as you alluded to:

National Association of Residential Property Managers

Residential Management Professional

Master Property Manager

Institute of Real Estate Management

- Certified Property Manager

These are well-recognized designations from reputable professional organizations, especially the CPM which has fairly extensive requirements. What additional benefit would a Bigger Pockets designation offer a property manager? I'm all about bettering the industry, I'm just not sure I see the value added in this case.

You know how you get Certified? Meeting with other BP investors at local REIA meetups. Network in person with people. Be a contributor that adds value to conversations and help people out.

Recently people have asked me in California why I am so comfortable investing out of state, and how I am building my network.  It's simple.  I BP-Stalk individuals, and then I pick up the phone and call them.  And then I call up people in the same area and I ask them about the person I'm BP-Stalking.  I'd be just as skeptical about a BP-Certification as I would be of anything else.

@Joshua Dorkin  

I understood that - I should have said that I don't see the value proposition for property managers or for investors.

To clarify, my question is what need would a BP property management certification fulfill for investors that isn't already met by finding a property manager who is NARPM or IREM certified?

I just don't see the point in complaining repeatedly about something without making an effort to do something about it.  And there seems to be quite a bit of complaining about property managers.  So either most of them are not certified by NARPM, IREM, or whatever--or else those certifying bodies are failing their duties.

BP is sufficiently well established that it could create its own endorsement process which, in my opinion, would actually fit its mission statement perfectly.  Best practices, no upselling.

I see no reason why this would create legal concerns--being 'BP certified' (or, perhaps, 'BP endorsed' if folks are too squeamish about 'certification') could simply carry the clout we all decide to give it.  As I understand it, the American Kennel Club does something quite similar when they decide which dogs are AKC and which are not.

No question this would be a significant undertaking; I alluded to that in my original post.  But since it is my idea, I would be happy to begin compiling inputs and ideas from the masses and put forth the effort to see where we could take this...


Vincent - Here's the issue for me -- 7 people other than you and I even participated on this discussion.  Before we considered something like this seriously (there is a major time/money component here), we'd want to see FAR more interest in the idea....

I wouldn't jump into researching anything until we see this take off . . .

I had a similar thread in the past, a certification process for investors, it's a huge undertaking.

Liability; specific or implied endorsements carry a liability issue for the endorser, not only legally, but in a social aspect. Certify some crook and see what happens.

Next, who gets a certification? Is the a test to assure competency? Is there some "deals done" "projects completed" aspect? Where do you draw that line? Can a newbie be certified?

Then, what about someone not being certified? Do they have recourse if they believe they were unfairly rejected, that carries implications of liable by omission. Again, where do you set the requirements and how do you process applicants, will these aspects be uniform and fair?

IMO, a certification from a social network isn't going to carry much water in reality, is it a professional association (?) no, it may be nothing more than a popularity contest based more on social interaction.

Then, you also have issues of keeping certifications current, professional designations require on going education. Things change, if you gave a certification two years ago and that person carries that certification today, they may well be doing financed lease purchases, or continue some other activity that is not compliant. So your certification becomes meaningless over time if there is no requirement to maintain current in a certain field.

Any professional certification requires a code of ethics, some expected conduct by members, really, have you read the forums?

I really doubt @Joshua Dorkin  want's to get into the professional certification business, not only was there a lack of interest last time, but most on BP won't even buy a $25 text book to learn RE, I doubt they would be willing to buy into some educational process or certification process and you certainly can't do it for nothing.

Certification implies qualification, the accepted method to ratify any qualification is by testing.  If it's too hard, people won't obtain it, if it's too easy, it won't mean anything. If it's a popularity endorsement, I doubt that would carry any water at all.

I think that BP members pretty well police what can be policed, if you see those that seem to put out fluff, puffing, asking how to get around laws, asking how to avoid accepted practices, that should set off red flags as to how they think. I don't see contractors being "certified" beyond licensing, locally you may have Angie's List, try that.

Good thought, certifications that meant something would be a good thing, but implementing a good program, administration of it and having it accepted is a whole different world. :) 

I think a ratings type section of the BP website might be more useful than some kind of official certification and much less time consuming and expensive to implement.  There is the Local Real Estate Networking & Recommendations forum which can be searched but it relies on someone being watchful and answering questions about a specific person or area.  Ratings sites have some liability I am sure and are only as good as the people filling them out and can be manipulated by using false accounts to fluff up ratings similar to how every time someone posts something bad about a guru we get several new "people" coming in posting defenses of the guru as their first post.  Still I like the general idea but I think in the end you still fall back on asking your local network who is reliable in your area.  For those doing out of area investing it might hold more use at least as a place to start getting names to check out more.

I tend to agree with a few of the others in this thread that BP getting involved as another means of certifying property managers and/or contractors may be a little bit of un-necessary overkill. As a licensed PM myself I know there are a ton of letters I can add after my name and title and I really don't think being certified by BP is going to make any difference.

I do however agree that you, the property owner should include in your PM screening process, what education credentials do they have, what organization and/or group affiliations do they have and most importantly what their references have to say about them!

All that said I think there may be some merit in BP putting together some sort of referral page or rating system for referrals. Frankly I don't have a bunch of letters after my name (not that I won't some day) but I believe every one of my property owner clients would be willing to give me a good reference or rating if there were one... and that's what matters most!

@Account Closed  I understand what your trying to accomplish here, I just don't believe another certification system is the answer.

Okay, fair enough.  Thanks for the banter, guys--that was very informative.

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