In today’s low-inventory housing market, where buyers are vying for homes like never before, the guidance of an experienced real estate professional is a must.
But what does it take to be the agent buyers can rely on to help them navigate even the most challenging home-buying experience? According to this year’s REBAC Hall of Fame inductees, it begins with the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation.
Awarded each year by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), the coveted designation is presented to real estate professionals who meet specific criteria. It’s a signal to homebuyers that the agent has the commitment and special skills it takes to provide outstanding service.
Because there are no rigidly defined requirements for inclusion in the REBAC Hall of Fame, candidates must have demonstrated, in their own way, a dedication to buyer representation and practical use of the skills they’ve acquired through a combination of training, competency and experience.
“REBAC has 23,000 ABR® designees,” says Jennifer Rzeszewski, vice president and executive director at the Center for REALTOR® Development. “But as the industry and the market continue to flourish and change, there are always high-performing members who deserve special recognition.”
This year’s inductees are prime examples of agents and entities who are devoted to buyer advocacy. They will be honored in mid-November at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego at the ABR®, SRES®, and GREEN Networking and Awards Reception.
A Rewarding Real Estate Experience for All
For Hong Kong-born REALTOR® Denise Lo, who earned a degree in computer science at Queens College in New York, language and culture are central to her outlook on buyer commitment.
“I know from my days as a foreign student how difficult it can be to understand and navigate through American life and business,” says Lo, principal broker of Landmark Residential and Commercial Properties in Atlanta, Georgia. “One of my personal goals as a real estate professional is to provide guidance and simplify the transaction process for international homebuyers and investors.”
Overseeing a team of agents who collectively speak at least eight languages, Lo’s company serves clients from all over the world, combining technology, experience and personal commitment to ensure a rewarding real estate experience for all, including the non-English speaking clients who make up a third of the firm’s business.
Lo and her agents are well-versed in virtual showings, which enabled the firm to pivot quickly to a cyber environment last year as the global pandemic took hold.
“We were using Facebook, WeChat and other technologies to do virtual showings locally and globally long before COVID-19,” she says. “When many companies were still on a learning curve, we were seamlessly meeting the needs of our local and international clients without missing a beat.”
Advocating for Homebuyers
An ABR® designee for more than 23 years, Ohio REALTOR® Andrew Show recognized early on in his career the potential for conflict of interest when the role of the agent was not clearly defined.
“When I began selling property 30 years ago, there was often confusion over who represented whom,” he says. “Long before it was recognized as such, I saw dual agency as a distinct problem. I believed then, as now, that buyers who are about to make one of the major investments of their lives deserve an agent who is their best ally, who is looking out solely for their interests.”
Intent on advocating for homebuyers, and viewing specialization in buyer representation as a distinct competitive advantage, Show founded Buyer’s Resource Realty Services in 1992—and he’s never looked back.
Today, his team of exclusive buyer representatives draw on years of expertise in real estate, banking and contract negotiation to effectively serve the interests of homebuyers.
In addition to his commitment to being the buyer’s best ally, Show has served two three-year terms on the grievance committee for the Columbus REALTORS® association, as well as two decades on the organization’s professional standards committee—including a year as chairperson. He also teaches real estate law at Columbus State Community College, where he is an adjunct professor.
“One can never do enough to advance professionalism and integrity in our industry,” Show says.
Arming Agents With a Competitive Advantage This year’s third inductee into the REBAC Hall of Fame is Coldwell Banker, which is being recognized for their dedication to agent education and the advancement of buyer representation.
Between July 2020 and July 2021, more than 2,400 agents took REBAC elective courses, with 1,169 students completing the ABR® course since the start of the pandemic. The majority of these courses were taught by Kenneth Kemp, a real estate instructor and regional trainer.
“Coldwell Banker is committed to increasing the professionalism of its practitioners in ways that benefit the consumer,” says Jennifer Koller, real estate school manager for Coldwell Banker. “We saw the virtual environment as an opportunity, and pivoted quickly to the Zoom platform in order to maximize the number of agents we could bring into our virtual classrooms,” she says.
According to Koller, agents who are armed with the knowledge and education to represent buyers in the most strategic ways have a distinct and appreciated advantage.
The franchise has also started offering REBAC’s New-Home Construction elective course, with 70 agents onboard as of September, and the feedback from agents has been very positive, she adds.
Going Above and Beyond for Clients Short inventory and soaring demand over the past 18 months have led to fierce marketplace competition and buyer frustration. If there’s a common denominator for this year’s REBAC honorees, it’s their commitment to making the home-buying process as gratifying an experience as possible.
“Most homebuyers have very specific real estate objectives,” says Rzeszewski. “The ABR® designation is designed to give real estate practitioners the specific skills and knowledge they need to do the best job for every buyer, no matter their goals or the state of the market.”