Since 2011, REFM's Certification Program In Excel For Real Estate has measured proficiency in operating skillfully and efficiently in Microsoft Excel for the specific purpose of real estate transaction and partnership modeling analysis. Holding each subsequent Level of REFM Certification further validates one's skills and demonstrates their seriousness about being an expert-level modeler.
The rigorous Certification Program teaches and then tests one's ability to complete the following tasks using Excel:
Don’t think these skills matter? Click to the next section to see what top industry professionals say.
You can complete all three levels in a single weekend if you wanted. Each level requires around 3 to 4 hours of study/exercises, and each exam takes around an hour.
All Tests are free.
Upon passing each Level, you will receive a listing on the Certification Holders page and a badge for your email signature.
* Cost of Level 1 Self-Study product; Levels 2 and 3 can be bundled for a total cost of $449. Academic pricing is lower. See individual product pricing for details.
Regardless of the size or scope of the investment, the world's most astute real estate professionals model their transactions in Microsoft Excel. As long as real estate transactions require speed, transparency and precision, Excel modeling will remain at the center of the real estate business.
"In order to financially model a highly structured complex joint venture for real estate transactions it takes extraordinary care and effort. Building an accurate spreadsheet to reflect such a unique deal is tantamount to the future of a relationship and one's business success. Therefore, it’s imperative that the analyst has very strong Excel modeling skills."
- Clifford Mendelson
Managing Partner/CEO, Metropolis Capital Finance
"Top-notch real estate-based Excel knowledge is critical in executing for our clients so we naturally give strong consideration to employment candidates with those skills."
- John W. Gibb
Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc.
"Advanced Excel skills are essential in our work. If you don't have them, you cannot make the transaction-related decisions that will make a positive impact."
- Michael Blum
Principal, Insight Property Group LLC
"As a second generation commercial real estate developer, my father has always told me, "At the end of the day, return to the numbers." Today in my business, there is not a single acquisition, development or investment move that we make without building a financial model to inform the decision."
- Chad Hagle
CEO, Aventine Development Corporation
President, Stanford Professionals In Real Estate (SPIRE)
"Private equity investment revolves around identifying and mitigating risks within complicated investment opportunities. One of the ways we do so is with highly detailed Excel modeling, so the better your Excel skills, the more value you can potentially add."
- Loren Balsam
Managing Director, PRP LLC
"We analyze every development opportunity in detail in Excel. The sharper your Excel skills, the more valuable you can be to a team like ours."
- Robert W. Ward
Executive Vice President – Regional Manager, Skanska USA Commercial Development Inc.
"A demonstrated high level of proficiency in Excel-based real estate analysis is one of the most important qualifications I seek in my acquisition and development team hires."
- Jair K. Lynch
Owner, Jair Lynch Development Partners, Washington, DC
"When working at the interface of construction and finance, Excel-based knowledge and skills are critical. The better yours are, the higher you can rise professionally."
- Bob Elliott
Vice President - Director of Development, Clark Enterprises Inc., Bethesda, MD
REFM's Certification Program In Excel For Real Estate empowers real estate professionals and students with a way to demonstrate their level of expertise in solving analytical real estate problems with Microsoft Excel. The three Levels of Certification establish a uniform performance standard by testing for knowledge and for a thorough understanding of the principles, procedures and techniques requisite in performing real estate transaction and partnership analysis.
Each Level of Certification:
"Employers know that the REFM Certification isn’t a cakewalk, so having it on my resume allows me to show them my seriousness about real estate analysis."
W. Brett Flanders
"As a graduate of a liberal arts program, REFM Certification helped me demonstrate a firm grasp of the financial concepts that my degree didn't cover."
REFM Certification can be administered on-site for corporate human resources programs. Email sales@GetREFM.com to inquire.
Eligibility: Anyone who wishes to pursue REFM Certification is an eligible Candidate.
How Long It Takes: You could learn all three Levels and take all three tests in a single weekend if you dedicated the weekend to becoming Certified for all three Levels.
Cost: All Tests are free. Tests can be retaken an unlimited number of times. Cost of Level 1 Self-Study product is $149; Levels 2 and 3 can be bundled for a total cost of $449. Academic pricing is lower. See individual product pricing for details.
Body Of Knowledge Tested: Click on the sub-navigation at left to show each Level's contents
Requirements: You may take any Level Test you wish in any order you wish. In other words, you do not have to take the Level 1 Test to take the Level 2 Test, etc.
Format: Each Test must be completed in 60 minutes, and each is a combination of multiple choice, formula/function interpretation, and formula/function construction. Use of a blank Excel workbook and the Excel Help function is allowed, with the natural penalty for doing so being the loss of time to complete the Test in its entirety.
Testing Schedule: The Tests are available online, 24/7/365 (click on the links at left to try sample questions, and to take the Tests). Tests can also be specially administered on-site at corporate and educational facilities. Email testing@GetREFM.com to inquire.
Testing Conditions: The Tests are timed, and the timer may not be stopped, so each Test must be completed in a single sitting. Candidates must not receive any outside assistance during the Test, and must not consult any resources other than the Excel Help function within a blank Excel workbook.
Test Preparation: The content tested at each Level is highly specific, and preparation is strongly encouraged for best results. REFM offers Self-Study Preparatory Materials to prepare Candidates for the Tests.
Passing Requirements: The Tests are designed to be challenging to match the rigor required in the workplace to perform analyses in a timely and efficient manner. The passing score is 70% and Passing With Distinction is 85%+.
Credentials: Upon passing each Level, Candidates will receive a Certificate of Completion and they may elect to have their name listed in the REFM Certification Database for verification by employers, and a badge for your email signature.
Level 1 Certification tests to ensure that the proper foundations are in place. The following knowledge and skills areas are tested:
Level 2 Certification tests more sophisticated analysis and use of functions. Functions that are additive to those tested in Level 1 are shown in parentheses.
Level 3 Certification tests the ability to model complex partnerships and waterfall distributions.