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NAR’s PSA certification enhances the skills of real estate professionals across the board 

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification was designed to enhance people’s skills in creating CMAs, pricing properties correctly, and better guiding clients through the misperceptions they often have about a home’s true worth.

The PSA certification combines a newly revised course, Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA, with webinars on Making Adjustments and Counseling Clients Using Market Stats for a well-rounded approach to pricing strategy.

Maurice Taylor, principal broker with iRealty Arkansas and owner of Vivid Real Estate Learning Center, is a professional development committee member. A self-described “education junkie,” Taylor tries to get at least one or two designations a year.

“I had heard that the PSA was a good course that would broaden my knowledge of comparables and help me become more self-aware on analyses and how to get that data,” he says. “I took the class last November and it taught me how to better challenge an appraisal, to hit the right value and properly compare properties, and that I’m pulling the right comparables.”

Additionally, the course taught him what to do if there’s no comparable in a particular area, and how to use a comparable area to find the right price.

“I’d been doing this for 18 years before I took the course, and I was pretty comfortable with CMAs already, but this class gave me more comfort and broadened the knowledge I already had,” says Taylor. “It made me look at comps from a different perspective and gave me a better understanding of why you take certain things out and why you add certain things in.”

For that reason, Taylor believes it should be a required course for all real estate professionals.

“In 2016, I was attending our Montana State REALTOR® Conference, and the PSA certification course was offered, so I immediately signed up,” says Susan E. Smith, a broker with RE/MAX of Whitefish in Whitefish, Mont., who previously sat on (and was chair) of her local Northwest Montana Association of REALTORS® Professional Development Committee. “Just this past month, my local association offered the PSA course to a sold-out crowd.”

The course gave her the tools and guidelines to help analyze properties with similar characteristics and narrow down a price range, which has led to her being more confident in pricing listings and making adjustments.

“My career prior to real estate was in accounting and finance. I’m good with numbers; however, I find CMAs one of the more difficult aspects of our job,” says Smith, “particularly in Northwest Montana where there aren’t a lot of large subdivisions with similar model homes. Our inventory varies from modest homes in town to large estates on acreage, ski resort properties, waterfront, vacant land, etc. Comps can be difficult to find.”

She makes sure to explain to all clients what the PSA certification means, and how it is beneficial for them.

“When I’m working with buyers or sellers, I have an opportunity to explain the PSA certification and how it benefits them in pricing their listing right or negotiating on behalf of a buyer,” she says.

Katie Eddy, manager/course developer for the Center for Specialized REALTOR® Education, recently worked with NAR’s subject matter experts to update the course based on feedback from students.

“We have a very hands-on approach to revising content. There’s a whole revision team that we assemble to provide the most informed, updated information to our REALTORS® and other course participants,” she says. “Before revising the course, we took the course as a student, both online and in the classroom. We read through all of the student reviews from the last two years, since the last revision of the course in 2016. We spoke directly to students to explore more effective ways we could deliver the course content.”

Students would say they walked away with a lot of information but wanted more practical experience working through a CMA in the course. Other students said they wanted to know more about working with appraisers. Both were expanded based on that feedback.

Eddy and her team also worked with subject matter experts that regularly teach the course—and consistently receive high praise from their student reviewers—for input.

“It was an exercise in research, collaboration, data and instructional design,” says Eddy. “Based on that approach, rooted in the story the data told us, we’ve reorganized sections of the manual, revised and added exercises and activities, in addition to including more resources that REALTORS® can practically apply to their business when they leave the classroom.”

An entire section filled with resources that students can apply directly into their business practices was also added in the appendix.

“Students asked for more scenarios, so we added that,” says Eddy. “The students that I spoke to directly after completing the course revision were ecstatic to hear that we made changes to the course directly based on their feedback. That’s what we do, and that’s why we’re here: we listen.”

Eddy believes Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA speaks directly to different scenarios and solutions in preparing the most informed and effective CMA.

“The course also reaches beyond that and helps students think through how they’ll present the CMA to a client, how they work with appraisers, and how they can stay up-to-date with changes in their market,” she says.

Students who work beyond the course to complete the Pricing Strategy Advisor certification will gain a deeper understanding of how to make precise calculations and adjustments, choose accurate comparables, and deliver a confident presentation of a CMA they can now more skillfully craft.

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Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia. 

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