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Equator now offers short sale certification program



Are You Willing to Pay to Be Short Sale Certified?

This is a follow up to my recent post about Equator and Bank of America short sales. In that post, I describe the Equator system, how it is used, and how to get started if you have not yet taken the plunge into short sales and the Equator software platform.

Equator and REO Trans have now upped the ante a little bit. Effective May 17, 2010, Equator now offers a certification program to assist real estate agents meet the increasing market demands for short sales.

According to the Equator website, the benefits of certification include:

  • Top Ranking in Search Results
  • Enhanced Profile
  • Ability to Market Experience Using the Equator Certification Logo

There are three levels of certification–silver, gold, and platinum. The platinum certification costs $499 and includes a comprehensive Equator training program as well as your choice of either a short sale certification or an REO certification. If you are interested in both certifications (REO and short sale), there is an additional charge of $199. The training programs are all online modules, and you must pass a test at the end of the last module in order to receive certification. You can sign up for the certification program on the Equator website.

The Equator certification program is one of the many certification programs currently available for short sale agents. There are also a great number of HAFA certification programs that train agents in the comprehensive details of the government’s HAFA program. Additionally, there are several designations currently offered that focus on the distressed property market.

I have participated in and taught several short sale courses.

As you approach your business and consider short sales, I urge you to carefully consider all of the certification programs available and decide which best suits your needs. Many of them cost several hundred dollars. So, before you type in your credit card information for each and every program offered, spend time studying the programs and decided which will be best for you and your business.

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

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  1. Jim Gatos

    May 25, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I did a short sale with another one of those online “middle meddler” companies. If anything, all they did was just be in the way. After the short sale was closed and sold, they were spamming me to death. I called them and told them to take me off their email list and they said they didn’t have to if the email is for business purposes! They finally did stop.

    I only had Two Short Sales NOT go through since 1993 and I think that’s a pretty darned good rate. To pay some company for what? Short Sales to me are personal referrals anyway, they’ll pick a known person, especially in this stressful situation, over a “certified” person anytime. I took the Short Sales Class and became a “CSSS” (Certified Short Sales Specialist” courtesy of Floyd Wickman and Will Weaver. Equator for me is just another excuse for an agent to spend some money and put their face on a mickey mouse site.

    There’s better ways to get business. If I’m wrong I WILL change my mind.

  2. Dean Ouellette

    May 25, 2010 at 9:18 am

    This makes me sick to my stomach. I am so sick and tired of these “certifications” give me a break? What is this, really what is it? This is a way for them to line their pockets with more money, period the end!!

    Anyone who has used equator a few times knows how to use it, there are no hidden secrets. I personally have become a fan of the system of late, but no way am I paying to be considered an equator expert. There is no value there except to the person you are sending the check into.

    This is ridiculous and I hope agents start standing up and saying enough is enough.

    • Ehren

      April 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      I think your right. I just got off the phone with the Charfen Institute. They want $617.00 to become a Certified Distress Property Expert CDPE. What a joke. I could have sent a letter or knowed on the property owners door. Belive me they have know idea what these certifications mean.

  3. Lani Rosales

    May 25, 2010 at 10:56 am

    When this article posted on the Agent Genius Facebook Page (, three comments were made in response:

    Rick Cordisco, “Equator Sucks!”

    Brenda Horsman Busch, “BOA has been a nightmare to deal with whether it has been a short sale, bank foreclosure or even a straight deal. I certainly wouldn’t pay for this certification. I think BOA should think about improving and streamlining their short sale process especially their response time to consumers before they try to get paid for certifying people to work a system that doesn’t repsond to consumer need.”

    Vicki Woody, “Go Brenda!!!!!”

  4. Artur | inPhoenix

    May 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    “Equator for me is just another excuse for an agent to spend some money and put their face on a mickey mouse site.” (JG)
    “What is this, really what is it? This is a way for them to line their pockets with more money, period the end!!” (DO)

    Those were my thoughts as well.

    There really is no magic in getting a short sale done and certainly certifications, like most designations are money scrapers, taking advantage of gullible Realtors.

    As Dean notes: enough is enough.

  5. Justin Boland

    May 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    This was their plan all along at Equator, huh? Monopolize the BOA relationship and then monetize that?

  6. Melissa Zavala

    May 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    As of the date of this post, the Equator platform is being used primarily by two servicing companies: Bank of America and GMAC. I have read articles that state that Equator/REO Trans has contracts with 12 different servicers who will eventually be using the platform.

    As far as Equator certification goes, it is truly vital that sellers work with agents who know how to negotiate a short sale and how to strategize when the chips are down. It also helps if the agents already have contacts at lending institutions. Now, whether the Equator certification will provide that kind of instruction remains to be seen. It is entirely possible that the best certification for short sale negotiation comes from the most famous school of all, “The School of Hard Knocks.”

    Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and commented on my post.

    • Mohammad Haque

      July 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      So, what is your opinion about EQUATOR course? Is that worth spending that money for this course?
      It is really help any honest opinion.


  7. Ariana Loucas

    July 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Equator is a rip off. I joined in Jan. I paid the expensive fee for Platinum ranking, and I have been paying around $40 per month for BPO opportunities in the zip codes where I work. For 2 months I received email notices that new BPOs are available. All of a sudden I stopped receiving email notices and I hadn’t changed a thing in my settings.

    Now granted, anyone working with Equator knows that BPOs are posted the 2nd of each month, around 10:02am eastern time. So of course since it’s first come first serve, everyone and their mother is logged in and refreshing the screen to snag the 3 bpos that may become available out of 40 zip codes I pay to get bpo business. Now sometimes a BPO will be posted mid month, and not everyone is logged in for the rat race like they are the 2nd of the month, so if I got the email from equator as I should, stating a new bpo has become available, maybe I’d have a shot at getting that mid month post, but I’m not receiving the email notices.

    I called customer service for the 3rd time to complain about this. The rep, after basically calling me a liar and telling me he has no other calls noted for me, proceeds to blame my email provider, as did the other 2 reps on my prior complaints to their customer service. When I said I get emails from everyplace else, and used to get them from equator, how is it as the problem. I even tried changing my email address I use a few months ago and still nothing received from equator month over month.

    The customer service rep suggested I add an alternate email address. I asked him “Ok so if I try that, and it still doesn’t work, since that’s your only suggestion, come Aug. 2nd for the next BPO post, or if you happen to add another one this month, and if I still don’t get the email notice of availalbe BPOs, will you credit back the money I’m paying you monthly to get those notices of BPOs in my selected zip codes?”. He said “NO.” I warned him that I would be sharing this info in the Bank of America short sale seminar, with Activerain for fellow agents, and any place else I can. He still offered no remedy.

    So do yourself a favor, save yourself the time and money. Don’t pay the expensive fee for Platinum or any membership fees. If you get a short sale to post on Equator, you can do that for free, so don’t pay with the expectatin that you’ll get REO or BPO opportunities because you will not make a return on your investment. I’ve only gotten 4 bpos, that never resulted in me getting a REO listing, and at a sad pay of $50 per bpo, and with me paying over $400 for the membership and $40 monthly for my selected bpo zip codes, I have no roi (return on my investment.)

    Hourly, I’m worth far more than $50 for the time it takes to even complete a BPO. With such poor customer service, and lack of intent on Equator’s side to right the wrong of their inferior technology system, other than blaming your email provider, I hope this post will save some fellow Agents money, and wasted time.

  8. Gabe Davidson

    August 9, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I have been successfully negotiating and closing Short Sales for several years now. Lately ive been considering the Equator certification, that is until i came accross this thread. Has anyone signed up for this $500 cert and had a positive experience? Has it increased your calls from servicers looking for Short Sale listing agents? Feel free to email me gabe at

  9. Elizabeth Meyer

    September 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Is the Equator REO certification worth it?

    Had a very interesting call wtih Equator and they refused to give any statistics regarding how many REO listings agents who purchase the $499 “certification” actually get. All they say is “results may vary” blah, blah, blah. If results for agents were good, then Equator would proudly tell the world those statistics. If it actually helped realtors get listings, Equator would say, “85% of platinum certified REO agents get a listing in the first month” or something like that. Do the research. DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!

  10. Allen Deaver

    October 30, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I am currently working on a Short Sale with Bank of un-America. In the pasted I have been sucessful with other short sales but Bank of un-America takes the cake. The Equator System is aweful & short sale dept isn’t any better. If you have been sucessful with a short sale with Bank of un-America that’s great… I refuse to have anything to do with Bank of un-America in the future.

  11. Wayne

    December 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    It’s been a few months since this was posted. I decided to pass on the certification. Any body been certified since May with a good result on short sale completion?

  12. JOyce Stember

    October 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    My recent short sale experience with Bank of America was exasperating…am going to never buy BofA stock again, will cancel my credit card with them and am planning to write everyone I can to tell them of my experience. Here it is: I had a buyer, BofA had a house to sell…we offered $285,000. Today (we submitted our offer in June) the house was sold at auction today (10/6/11) for $225,000. This is crazy.

    I am working with another buyer who wanted to purchase short sale with BofA…the short sale ignored and house was auctioned. We are now purchasing it for $30,000 less as an REO.

    YAY Bank of America…..I would never trust my money with you.

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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