CDPE: It May Not Mean What You Think it Means

Remember in The Princess Bride, when Vizzini kept saying this that and the other was “inconceivable” until Inigo Montoya tells him that he doesn’t think the word means what Vizzini think it means?

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch the movie and then come back. I’ll wait. Go on.)

I have the same feeling when it comes to some REALTOR designations, at least when I see them used in a manner that borders on false advertising.

For instance, a buyer on Trulia Voices recently was asking questions about purchasing a short sale and a CDPE-card-carrying agent said, in essence, to get hooked up with a CDPE-certified agent who has received the specialized training needed to complete a short sale.

CDPE, incidentally, is Certified Distressed Property Expert and for all intents and purposes is the brainchild of RE/MAX’s Dave Liniger. The idea was that Dave would push CDPE at RE/MAX while also promoting the certification to lenders as a way of making sure the agents submitting short sales knew what they were doing rather than taking the listing and hoping for the best.

Someone with a CDPE certification does receive extra training, the kind that otherwise only can be found in the proverbial School of Hard Knocks (which, combined with NAR’s Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource certification, is where I received my short sale training.)

The problem is the CDPE designation deals solely with the listing side of the equation since a buyer’s agent has roughly zero influence in the completion of a short sale. Don’t believe me? Check out the CDPE site:

Living through financial difficulties poses a challenge for any family, so why make the process of finding a qualified real estate professional difficult too? Select an agent with the CDPE Designation to ensure you have a trained professional to address your specific needs. For more information, contact a CDPE in your area.

CDPEs don’t merely assist in selling properties, they serve and help save their clients in need.

Nothing in that language, or any of the boilerplate on the site, links the CDPE to helping buyers but that doesn’t stop agents from taking advantage of the public’s naivety to pimp themselves. (In fact, one the bigger NAR-haters here locally continues to list proudly his alphabet soup of certifications, bringing to mind the old saying about biting the hand that feeds you.)

Certifications are nice – though I still continue to question those that require an annual fee to maintain, as I don’t think I forgot my training just because I don’t feel like paying blood money year after year. But in many cases, the certification and $5 will buy you an egg nog latte.

It’s not just real estate. The other day, my wife and I passed a car with a license plate that said “BAMAJD”.

In the words of Christian Bale, “good for you!”

Experience is what matters, is what I’m trying to say, not a designation that may or not mean what the person flaunting the letters says it does.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • J Philip Faranda 6 years ago

    I agree that just about all alphabet soup is dubious at best as a guarantee that the agent is a better choice, not just short sale designations. I know CRS and GRI people that would need  map to find their rear end.  That said, the CDPE course was the best CE course I ever took, and I blogged after completing it that I considered it a game changer. 

    Here is what I said last March about it: 
    “It doesn’t matter if you will never list a short sale- you’ll be a buyer agent on one at some point. And this is so beyond the mere nuts and bolts of a short sale it is humbling. If I were a buyer I’d want to work with a CDPE whether I bought distressed or not.”

    I still feel that way. All things being equal, a buyer should want an agent that can explain the process to them and help them understand what to expect. Now, if an agent has NEVER done a short sale and just has the CDPE, I suppose that is nothing to write home about, but an experienced CDPE is about as good as it gets in my mind. If the Trulia person found a CDPE and had the smarts to also ask about their experience they should expect good representation. 

  • Dean Ouellette 6 years ago

    Problem I have with CDPE… First the developer had never closed a short sale when he developed the course. Second he works closely with the bank in the growth of the program… Yea thats a great idea, work with the advisory, find out what they want and give it to them. Brilliant! 

  • Jonathan Dalton 6 years ago

    Except, in this case, giving it to them doesn’t necessarily mean the banks are going to be any more efficient. Hand them exactly what they say they need and they still find ways to either need more, lose paperwork or generally sit on the files. No designation can make that better.

    J – I hear what you’re saying but from what I’ve picked up second hand, looking at materials and such, there doesn’t seem to be enough there I’ve not already learned on my own to justify the cost or the two days out of my life. And, while I have been in Tiffany’s shoes and have had to guide agents through transactions (of the non-short sale variety), when the primary actors in a short sale are the lender, the listing agent and the seller, I don’t believe the buyers agent can have that much impact other than setting expectations for their own client, which doesn’t require a CDPE.

  • J Philip Faranda 6 years ago

    Ironically enough, I just got this review on Zillow today from a client I sold a short sale to in 2009:  Of course, that was 2 years prior to getting my CDPE. So, yes, experience is paramount. 

    The problem for a consumer is that they are starting from zero and  agents don’t have experience pasted on their forehead. You have to start somewhere. I think going to the CDPE or SFR directory to get names and numbers is an smart place to start, and from there you can investigate experience. 

    I could care less, by the way, about the intrigue suggested about the origin of the CDPE program. I found it to be incredibly valuable and I already had dozens of closed short sales under my belt, and if the material or value were oversold it wouldn’t enjoy the growth it has. 

  • Jonathan Dalton 6 years ago

    Not sure I agree with you on the last part (see: ePro, pre-2010) but I won’t argue with you if you found value there. Maybe I’ll change my mind in 2012 and do it, but not inclined as of the moment.

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