She recently branched out to open her own real estate business.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Cass Chies recently earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification.

Chies, broker/owner with Diamond 1st Realty, 236 Delaware Ave., Palmerton, earned NAR Short Sales and Foreclosure Certification Buyers and Sellers Benefit from REALTOR Expertise in Distressed Sales.

The National Association of REALTORS offers the SFR certification to realtors who want to help both buyers and sellers navigate these complicated transactions, as demand for professional expertise with distressed sales grows.

Chies said sellers look at short sales more favorably than they will a foreclosure.

"Because it is such a trend nationally and is something we're going to continue to see for another few years because of a lot of homes that are upside down, people losing jobs, losing their homes," Chies said. "These are unique situations and are something that have to be handled with care and confidentiality, and the agent has to have an understanding of what the sellers needs are and the process."

Chies said she's now better suited to meet the needs of buyers and sellers.

"There was such a need for it, and to see what other information was out there for both parties," she said. "There's so much more information that you need to know for the seller, and you really want to work for the seller."

According to a recent NAR survey, nearly one-third of all existing homes sold recently were either short sales or foreclosures. For many real estate professionals, short sales and foreclosures are the new "traditional" transaction.

REALTORS® who have earned the SFR certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities.

"As leading advocates for homeownership, REALTORS® believe that any family that loses its home to foreclosure is one family too many, but unfortunately, there are situations in which people just cannot afford to keep their homes, and a foreclosure or a short sale results," said 2009 NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. "Foreclosures and short sales can offer opportunities for home buyers and benefit the larger community, as well, but it's extremely important to have the help of a real estate professional like a REALTOR® who has earned the SFR certification for these kinds of purchases."

The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk, and provides resources to help REALTORS® stay current on national and state-specific information as the market for these distressed properties evolves.

In order to earn the SFR certification, REALTORS are required to take one core course and three Webinars.

For more information about the SFR certification, visit www.REALTORSFR.org or call 1-877-510-7855.