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A certification that’s not the last resort

02/14/2012

by Michele Gillis, Staff Writer

The Resort and Second Home Specialist Certification has been offered by the National Association of Realtors since 2006, but is becoming more popular with local Realtors in Jacksonville.

The RSPS is a nationally recognized certification awarded by the National Association of Realtors to real estate professionals who wish to demonstrate and promote their expertise in the resort and second home specialty.

“The Resort and Second Home Property Specialist Certification is the flagship educational program for Realtors who either focus on the second home, vacation home, or income property market or would like to become an expert in these fields,” said Brett Brown of Naples, the 2011 chair of the NAR Resort and Second Home Committee and a RSPS. “The certification consists of a one-day core course, the Resort and Second Home Markets Course, plus two electives and three required online web seminars.“

According to Brown, currently 1,421 Realtors are RSPS certificate holders, or which 230 are based in Florida. No numbers are available for the Northeast Florida area.

Linda Taylor Morgan of Re/Max Unlimited in Ponte Vedra Beach recently earned the certification and said it has helped her business immensely.

Though Morgan has only been a Realtor for seven years, she recognized the value of getting the RSPS to help her business.

“I really believe Realtors need to be educated in a certain area in order to serve the customers that they have the best,” said Morgan. “Getting a second home or a resort home is totally different than getting your homesteaded property. I needed to know what resort and second home buyers were looking for.

“People think they know, but they don’t 100 percent understand. You have to know how to get them financed and the products they are looking for.”

Morgan has worked with buyers from Brazil, Columbia and other countries recently and said our area is being discovered as a resort and second home market.

“I realize more and more people are starting to come to our area to find their second or resort home,” said Morgan. “Orlando was really huge, but we have such a much lower cost of living that we are attracting this type of buyer. Our market is starting to get discovered by a lot of people and we have been discovered by other countries.”

Morgan is a member of the St. Augustine Women’s Council of Realtors and they recently offered the class.

“It was wonderful,” said Morgan. “About 30 Realtors came from all over Florida to take the class. It covered a lot of information and was pretty intense.”

Resort and second homes can include single-family homes, condominiums, condotel, resort home in a hotel, active adult communities, ranches, islands, homes in gated communities and fractional-ownership.

“I think fractional ownership is going to be the wave of the future in North Florida,” said Morgan. “Fractional ownership is when two people buy a home and each owns a percentage and would have the opportunity to be there a certain amount of time. It’s real big in Hilton Head and Charleston and is coming here.”

Brown said electives include courses from various other NAR and affiliate designations and certifications, such as the Certified International Property Specialist designation, the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation, the Accredited Land Consultant designation, and others.

“If a student already holds one of these designations, it may be possible for him or her to forego other electives,” said Brown. “Attendance at NAR’s Resort and Second Home Symposium is also an elective option. The Symposium, a mini-convention for second home practitioners, is held in a new location every 18 months. This year’s Symposium will be held March 18-20 in Kiawah Island, S.C. A full list of elective options can be found at www.realtor.org/resorts.”">www.realtor.org/resorts.”

Realtors can take the coursework either online or in regularly scheduled brick-and-mortar settings around the country. A full schedule of courses, plus access to the online education platform, can be found at www.training4re.com. Those interested in the certification should also visit www.realtor.org/resorts for full details.

As the chair of the Resort and Second Home Real Estate Committee, Brown sets the tone for the year and is instrumental in setting the agenda and goals for the committee.

“Our committee supports NAR’s benefits and programs for second home practitioners, but our primary purpose is to help Realtors understand government policies that could impact their business, as well as to make recommendations to NAR’s legislative staff on which policies to support,” said Brown. “These include issues such as continued funding for the National Flood Insurance Program, condominium financing rules, and other key topics. The chair of the committee, under the advisement of the vice chair and others, sets the committee’s priority issues for the year and ensures that the committee’s nearly 50 members are well versed in those issues and ready to discuss them at our two annual meetings. “

The certification was first discussed by NAR in 2002 when NAR’s then-president, Martin Edwards, commissioned an advisory group whose responsibility was to learn more about NAR’s members specializing in second home markets.

“By 2006, NAR had learned that around 250,000 Realtors, roughly one-fourth, of its membership were self-identified as resort and second home practitioners,” said Brown. “Further survey research revealed overwhelming support and desire for an educational program tailored to members looking to build a specialized knowledge set in the nuances of doing business with second home buyers. As a result, in January 2006, RSPS was officially launched.”

Getting the RSPS is good for business because it allows Realtors to tap into many resources to help them in their resort and second home business.

“The certification provides Realtors with access to expert information and a specialized skill set that they would not be able to obtain elsewhere,” said Brown. “Just as importantly, earning the RSPS Certification allows them to join a network of the nation’s leading resort and second home real estate professionals. Referrals and strong networks are vital to a Realtor’s ability to build and maintain his or her business. RSPS provides both the skills and the relationships to help ambitious second home practitioners become the elite, in other words, the industry standard bearers.”

What can it do for their business?

“The network of top professionals to which RSPS certificate holders belong expands referral opportunities for Realtors to a truly nationwide scale,” said Brown. “The skills that agents build through the course of study lend a measure of credibility that automatically raises certificate holders to an elite level among second home real estate practitioners. Consumers andw colleagues alike recognize the RSPS initials as a symbol of quality. RSPS certificate holders are often the first Realtors that out-of-area agents call when referring their clients. These two elements of the program, the skill set and network, create a tremendous business advantage for RSPS certificate holders.”



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