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Ryan Servatius, an associate broker with Shore Sotheby’s Realty in New Buffalo, Mich., got his start in the real estate industry back in 2002, when getting leads required a steadfast commitment to working the phone book and telephone.

“It just wasn’t working for me, so I decided I better go out and get as much education as I could,” says Servatius, who took it upon himself to learn as much as he could through acquiring numerous designations, in addition to networking with other real estate professionals.

Through the years, Servatius has earned six designations and certifications, including the National Association of REALTORS®’ Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification, laying the foundation for a successful career.

“Approximately 90 percent of my sales involve second-homeowners, whether they’re purchasing a home to use as a rental property or buying to escape city life,” says Servatius, who goes on to explain that the RSPS certification helps him stand out.

Working in Southwest Michigan, Servatius handles a number of shoreline communities, all of which are small resort towns. “Some are focused on sailing, some boating and some on art galleries,” says Servatius. “The biggest thing I can do is stand out from other agents by learning more about these markets, and the RSPS certification gives me the means to better help a second-homeowner decide if they can afford or want a property in a particular area.”

In fact, Servatius has access to a plethora of data, including information about waterfront rights, new developments and trends that are likely to affect his market.

“The biggest benefit for my clients is that it keeps me involved in what’s happening nationally,” says Servatius. “Our market seems to lag others by a good six months, so if something is happening elsewhere, it’s going to hit us soon.”

Today, one of the biggest issues affecting the resort and second-home market is the issue of short-term rental ordinances.

“This recently became an area of issue with people using Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO to rent out their homes, and it’s been expanding up our shoreline,” says Servatius, who adds that thanks to the RSPS certification, he was aware of a recent update to the 2012 Robinson & Cole study that upholds strict guidelines and community directions concerning rental properties.

“A lot of times there’s not an issue, but someone may bring it up because there’s a community next door doing it, or maybe they read an article in the paper, so they bring it up, and three to six months later, they have a rental ordinance whether they need one or not,” says Servatius. “I can provide the information people need to keep them up-to-date in regard to what’s really happening,” he adds.

It’s just one of the benefits of earning the RSPS certification, and what has kept Servatius a leader in the marketplace for the past decade.

For more information, visit realtor.org/resort.