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Virtual Opportunities to Expand Your Buyer Network

Earn elective credits toward the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation while exploring new buyer specialties, such as military clients and sustainable homes.

October 27, 2021

Your buyers likely have many questions about the red-hot market: Is this a housing bubble? Will contingencies make their offer less appealing? Why aren’t there more homes on the market? Homebuyers need a buyer’s agent now more than ever to guide them through the transaction, but the market is saturated with real estate professionals. More people are choosing a career in real estate, as the National Association of REALTORS®’ membership rose to a record 1.5 million this year. Now’s the time to elevate your career by earning the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation and focusing on a specialized market.

Choosing a real estate niche isn’t a simple decision, though. You’ll want to get a better understanding of the many different specialties before identifying the ones that match your business best. The Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) aims to help you with live virtual courses in November and December that will explore two fast-growing market segments: military clients and sustainable-home buyers. (The ABR® designation is one of the top credentials offered by CRD.) You can learn new lead generation strategies for target markets while building your credentials as a leading real estate expert in your community.

Working With Military Buyers

You don’t have to live near an Army base to assist military families with their real estate needs. “There are veterans everywhere,” says Maurice Taylor, ABR®, MRP, a subject matter expert who contributed to the recently updated Military Relocation Professional (MRP) course. “There are millions of vets, and this course can help you take advantage of the opportunity to help better serve them and meet their unique needs.”

Service members are looking for real estate professionals who are familiar with the intricacies of a military relocation and can point to resources like VA financing, says Taylor, executive broker at Coldwell Banker RPM Group in North Little Rock, Ark. Taylor also is a retired master sergeant with more than 24 years of service in the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserves.

More people in the military are becoming homeowners: The Department of Veterans Affairs backed a record 1.2 million mortgages in the 2020 fiscal year. What’s more, 58% of military members say they plan to buy a home in the next five years, according to a Veterans United Home Loans survey. But many veterans are unaware of the homeownership programs available to them. Most can access the zero-down VA home loan, yet only 3% of survey respondents knew it was possible to get a mortgage with no down payment requirement.

Real estate professionals who take the MRP course can learn how to explain the basics of VA financing and determine the types of properties and transactions that are eligible. You’ll also get a better understanding of how to help veterans navigate current market headwinds, such as with the steep competition from all-cash and conventional buyers, Taylor says.

There’s a reason targeting a military clientele is beneficial to your business. “When you target a certain market or certain specialty, that only lends to your credibility,” Taylor says. “Certain buyers and sellers will immediately be attracted to you. If you become an expert in the military, others will recognize that and start sending clients to you. You’ll become known in your market as the person to go to.”

Be the Sustainable Agent

More buyers are showing interest in green home features, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-two percent of the nation’s 1.5 million REALTORS® say they were involved in the sale of a property with eco-friendly features in the last year, according to the 2021 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report. More than half of REALTORS® say their clients are interested in sustainability.

Christopher Matos-Rogers, GREEN, associate broker at PalmerHouse Properties & Associates in Atlanta, recognizes the need for more agents to be trained in sustainability. “COVID has only exacerbated interest in healthy air and air quality,” he says. When Matos-Rogers, a 2021 recipient of the Green REsource Council’s EverGreen Award, was shopping for his own home in 2015, he wanted an electrical charging station for his car and solar panels for his roof. “I couldn’t find agents who understood that, even though there’s a large EEV [enhanced environmentally friendly vehicle] population in Atlanta,” he says. “I knew I wasn’t alone, and I know there are homes and buildings here for this segment of buyers.”

Since launching his real estate career, Matos-Rogers has been implementing sustainability measures in his own life and educating other agents. He has committed to going paperless and using sustainable methods of transportation—electric cars only—showing that sustainability is not just a part of his business but a way of life. Matos-Rogers served as a subject matter expert who contributed to this year’s update of NAR’s Green Designation Course.

The course now addresses the latest topics around sustainability, including:

  • The growth of passive and net-zero housing
  • The most desirable features and their effects on cost savings, health, and lifestyle
  • How to help buyers see the value in retrofitting existing homes
  • Mortgage financing and other incentives for energy-efficient renovation projects
  • How to market your expertise in energy efficiency

Using the knowledge he gained from NAR’s Green Designation Course, Matos-Rogers created GreenHomesATL.com, which is a hub for information about sustainable living in Atlanta and green home resources. “You can provide next-level service if you get educated about green homes,” Matos-Rogers says. “Implement [the strategies you learn] in your own life, and be able to talk about it at a deeper level. This is the best time to do it, too. There are 1.5 million REALTORS®—more than there ever have been—and how are you going to stand out from the crowd and be relevant? A niche can be one way.”

GREEN and MRP are only two of the many credentials that are approved electives for the ABR® designation. Learn more about REBAC, and the ABR® designation.

Melissa Tracey
Content sponsor

Melissa Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine who also writes advertorial copy for content sponsors. She can be reached at mtracey@nar.realtor.