Let me introduce myself, my name is
Lisa Dunn, MA,CSA,GRI,RSA,SRES
Maybe you'd like to see the logos of my designations?
WHY do real estate agents put all of those letters behind their names? How do you know if someone is a senior real estate specialist?
I used to think it just didn't matter. It didn't matter how many letters I put behind my name. Most consumers don't know what all those letters mean anyways. But, I'm changing my tune a little. With the coming age wave and how trendy it is becoming to say you're a "senior specialist" I'm starting to think these letters ARE important. This trend is happening not just in real estate, but across the senior industry. New businesses are opening up and the entrepreneur is calling himself a "senior specialist". It's definitely time for the buyer to beware.
You see, there is not a recognized designation for real estate agents called "senior expert". It doesn't exist. Unless of course, the agent who put it on their business card decided to call themselves a "senior expert". But "senior expert" is not an earned designation, nor is it recognized by the associations Realtors belong to. So, beware the real estate agent who writes "senior specialist" or worse yet, "senior expert" on their business card.
When you're interviewing any professional for any job, you would want to understand:
- what kind of training they have,
- the years of experience they have,
- if they have any specialties, and
- the kind of results they receive.
The Alphabet soup of REALTOR designations can answer the questions about the kind of training and specialties your real estate agent has.
If you're looking for a REALTOR who specializes in working with seniors, here are the designations you'll want to look for:
RSA-Realtor Senior Advisor. This is a designation offered by the Minneapolis Association of Realtors. It consists of 12 hours of classroom and a bus tour to local senior housing communities in the Twin Cities. Real estate agents are also introduced to numerous professionals in the senior industry that can assist their clients in preparing for a move. This designation is the most intensive, most locally relevant designation for Twin Cities Realtors. I might be a little biased, I was a course designer and an instructor for this course. I happen to think it's a great training program for Minnesota real estate agents, and prepares them to work more effectively with seniors.
SRES-Senior Real Estate Specialist. This is a nationally recognized designation offered by the National Association of Realtors. I am also an instructor for this course through the Minneapolis Association of Realtors. This is currently the most common designation you'll see. It consists of 12 hours of classroom work, some of which may be completed online. The biggest reason I keep this designation is the networking I do across the nation with other real estate agents that work with seniors. It's a great way for me to make referrals to seniors moving out of the state, or into the state. I know the person with the SRES designation at least dedicated some time to learning about issues important to older clients. You can visit the Senior Real Estate Specialist Website here.
CSA-Certified Senior Advisor is a designation offered by the Society of Senior Advisors. There are only 4 real estate agents in the state of Minnesota with this designation. The important distinction between this certification and the others, is that this designation does not count toward the continuing education real estate agents are required to get each year. That means this designation required some extra Hutzpah from the agent. If you see a real estate agent with this designation, you know they have invested a lot of time and money into learning about important aging issues. This designation is available to any professional in any field that works with seniors, not just real estate agents. It is most prominent in the financial services industry. It is the most broad, most in-depth, and most expensive of the three designations. In addition, this designation requires additional education every year, which includes 3 hours of ethics. You can visit the Certified Senior Advisor website here.
Most importantly, these designations represent one thing. The real estate agent spent time and effort earning them.
Those designations tell you about training, and someone's intention to focus on a specialty. Those letters don't tell you anything about the experience someone has or the results they get.
You'll want to know what the alphabet soup stands for, but it's just the beginning of the list of things to ask the person you're hiring to represent you in the sale of your home. I suggest you start with a Realtor with the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation. Then you can continue your interview process to be sure that agent is a good fit for you.
All my best, Lisa Dunn Senior Real Estate Specialist