What’s the meaning of extra specializations and letters after a sales rep’s name? Are they important? What should I look out for?

With summer just around the corner, the temperature is on the rise. Also on the rise? Houses for sale. The buying season is upon us.

You’re also likely to see a lot of ads from brokers and salespeople in newspapers, on billboards, online and elsewhere.

Often, those ads describe the individual with letters or designations that refer to things such as a specializing in relocation, in condominiums, in buyer representation or other type of specialization.

As you try to find the best real estate professional for your needs, understanding their education, skills and experience is essential.

If you see things like “relocation specialist,” or “condo specialist,” what benefit do you gain from that? It’s important for you to educate yourself and understand if your real estate representative has any additional knowledge, education or experience to justify such a title.

If they claim to specialize in condos, how many condos do they buy or sell in a given month or year? Alternatively, if they specialize in relocation, what type of relocation expertise does the individual have over the typical salesperson? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking.

Aside from the specialties that an individual might have, all real estate professionals must complete a thorough education program before they can begin trading in real estate. The program covers technical knowledge about trading in real estate, the process of a real estate transaction, the forms involved and how to evaluate market conditions.

Salespeople can take additional education to become brokers. This designation allows them to manage and operate a real estate brokerage.

In advertising, you should always see a description that clarifies whether they are a “salesperson,” a “broker,” or if they are in charge of the brokerage, a “broker of record.”

It’s also important to note that it’s against the law for any salesperson or broker to make false or misleading statements in any advertisement they publish, or about the services they provide. Along similar lines, if they advertise themselves as “#1” or “award winning,” the ad should include the source of this information, the geographic area it covers, and the period of time it applies, along with any other conditions related to the claim.

And any representative you choose should have knowledge about the area and the type of property you are looking to buy or sell. Signs and advertising can be a good start, but I also recommend asking your friends, family and neighbours for referrals. And it’s especially important to interview a few representatives, and contact their references, before you agree to work with one of them.

You can also use the real estate professional search feature on RECO’s website to make sure the representatives you are considering are registered in Ontario and in good standing.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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