By Paul Weideman

Many of Santa Fe’s top real-estate agents have earned the right to append professional designations to their names. These donate expertise in certain categories of the business. Examples are CCIM (certified commercial investment member), AHWD (at home with diversity), CIPS (certified international property specialist), and MRP (military relocation professional).

Now there’s a new one: SFeS or “Santa Fe specialist.” The designation and the 450-page curriculum manual that goes along with it were five years in the making.

To earn the designation, a Realtor has to take nine courses, amounting to about 30 hours of coursework, and must pass an exam,” said Donna Reynolds, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors’ government affairs director.

She thinks is may be the only community-specific designation in the country, certainly for a city the size of Santa Fe. “At a National Association of Realtors conference, I heard that Palo Alto had a similar program, but I’ve never seen it,” she said.

Funding sources for the project included the New Mexico Real Estate Commission (NMREC) and the Stanley Mathis Foundation. The course and designation was developed with, and approved by, the NMREC Education Committee.

“What we did was establish a committee of Realtors from around New Mexico, many of whom had been instructors and knew what we would have to do to offer continuing education credits. Realtors have significant education requirements. This is a very detail-oriented, information-rich business, and people need to know as much as they can.”

Reynolds said the designation, and the coursework behind it, will be most helpful to Santa Fe Association of Realtors members, but added that there are Albuquerque Realtors who would find value in the designation. “There are people who just think Santa Fe is this ‘City Different’ place and they’re just clueless about what’s happening here.”

SFAR also offers the coursework to nonmembers, but at a higher price.

Four of the nine courses have already been held. One still to come is attorney Kyle Harwood’s class about water rights, and it will be held at the Buckman Direct Diversion Project on the Rio Grande. “He has Santa Fe-specific information in his narrative, his content, and that includes local water regulations and information about the Aamodt litigation.

“There have been people living here for a long time, and we have land grants and a lot of public lands that abut private land, so there have been access issues and Santa Fe County has agreements with some of the Pueblos. It’s a unique place.”

If you’re buying a property, you need to know if there are issues, so a detailed disclosure is extremely important. “So is title insurance,” Reynolds said. “It’s a serious issue. If your title comes into question, how do you get a second mortgage to improve the property?”

She said all of the materials in the curriculum regarding land use were reviewed by Penny Ellis Green, director of the Growth Management/Land Use Department at Santa Fe County; and Greg Smith, director of the Current Planning Division at the City of Santa Fe.

The coursework also covers Santa Fe history, culture, architecture, arts, annexations, zoning, escarpment regulations, terrain, HOAs, affordable housing, green building, short-term rentals, heating and cooling, and national and state Realtor resources.

“This is the most relevant and important thing I’ve ever done in my 12 years at the association,” Reynolds said.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, is the deadline for people to sign up for the designation and get the curriculum manual free. After that, it will be $50.

You have to take the courses to get the content, and the manual is only available as a hard copy. It will be updated annually and there will be new pages and an annual renewal fee.

“We imagine that about one third of our 980 members [who cover not only the Santa Fe area but out to Los Alamos County and the Española area] will want to pursue this designation,” Reynolds said.

In the July issue of this magazine, Paco Arguello, SFAR chief executive officer, wrote that 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.”

For more information, see Education - Designations at sfar.com.

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