In 2015, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors (SFAR) agreed to research, fund, and develop a local designation, similar to those developed, marketed, and provided by the National Association of Realtors as well as other real-estate specialties, as in the CCIM (certified commercial investment member). It will be the first in New Mexico and likely one of only a handful in the nation.

It has taken four years of work gathering Santa Fe-centric information for the curriculum with the keen oversight and guidance of a task force for a “Santa Fe specialist” (SFeS) designation. Many of these Realtor volunteers will now serve on an association education subcommittee crafting final program policies and marketing steps as well as directing the program as it evolves. Area experts were recruited to write topic narratives, creating a curriculum that can be used by designees as a strategic resource in their real-estate practices.

The concept of developing a local area designation has been explored and created in other areas of the country. It is our understanding that at one time a local designation was available to Realtors and licensees in the Palo Alto area of California.

An area designation has value when land-use laws are complex; where historic, commercial, highway, or development-specific overlay areas and zoning districts can impact property rights; where “errors and omissions” claims are increasing or higher than average in the area, region, or state; where there is strong Realtor and licensee interest; and where multi-faceted or historical land-use concerns are present (for instance, water and mineral rights, land grants, or a mesh of federal, state, and sovereign lands).

The association is grateful to the New Mexico Real Estate Commission and the Stanley Mathis Foundation for their key funding support given towards the development of the new curriculum and designation. As part of the funding, SFAR is finalizing a “how to” guide for use by other local associations across New Mexico and the country.

The Santa Fe Association of Realtors believes an SFeS designation will further demonstrate the value of Realtors in the local community, in the real-estate transaction, and as leaders in real-estate education. These goals can be achieved by Realtor members and licensees when they deepen their knowledge of the diversity, uniqueness, history, public policies, and regulations of the region and its governance structures; strengthen SFAR’s relationship with local government by clearly demonstrating how Realtors with an SFeS designation enhance the community and real-estate industry; and help grow the value of Realtors as knowledgeable, skilled community assets and as essentially key players in the real-estate transaction.

Area Realtors and licensees will be encouraged to earn the Santa Fe specialist designation by taking more than 30 hours of continuing education courses approved by the New Mexico Real Estate Commission. Course participants will access a 24-section curriculum manual with Santa Fe-specific information on a wide variety of real estate, land use, construction, history, architecture, and culture topics.

Designees will be asked to complete the SFeS designation within a three-year period and complete an open-book exam to earn the new designation. The curriculum will be reviewed and updated for accuracy annually.

The Santa Fe Association of Realtors leadership and staff are proud and excited to offer this novel, premier education program to the real-estate community. The designation courses will begin in August 2019.

Rubel “Paco” Arguello is chief executive of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. Contact him at