The Early Years 1967-72: A National Program

Vic Lyon and Jay Levine taught the first course of the national program in Chicago in February 1967. John Keepper, now Schaumberg, Ill., manager for Coldwell Banker, was there. He had fallen into real estate two years earlier after leaving the Navy.

It was the Investment Property Exchange and Taxation course, for 75 or so students in a hotel room downtown. Keepper was in commercial real estate because a senior associate had spotted him for a mathematics-oriented type who could handle “The new real estate,” all about taxations and investment.

Keepper was fascinated by what he heard, “things like multi-year projections” of an investment's worth and measurement of benefits from “leverage and tax shelter.” It was new to him as a newcomer to the business. It was new to a lot of people, including “some old-guard Chicago brokers” who weren't used to being back in the classroom after years of network-driven deal making.

These veterans had rendered yeoman service to clients, but clients were beginning to ask for more, which is where IPET came in. CCIM, its purveyor, was riding a wave, and it didn't take a house to fall on people like Keepper to know it.

Neither did it take the National Institute long to see they had a good thing. This program was something on which to build national growth, because of its revenue-enhancing aspects and the enthusiasm it inspired.

Seven other courses were offered nationwide that first year. Levine, Lyon, and the others were doing their best to export the California experience to Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., and other points east. Exchange and taxation dominated the curriculum, which also included straight commercial work. There was also a marketing session involving both clients and brokers. The Institute's newly minted Commercial Investment Division published “A Real Estate Trader's Handbook,” covered in dark red, which became known as the “red book.”

Meanwhile, the Institute was presenting a sort of road show, which sold the CCIM program in one-day stands. This “Operation Opportunity” made a five-day circuit through Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi in February 1969, featuring lectures by Fred Becker and Joseph P. Klock, of Philadelphia. They discussed tax and other aspects of investment real estate. In Miami, Tampa, Fla., Sarasota, Fla., Baton Rouge, La., and Jackson, Miss., the two delivered “no-nonsense” seven-hour days “packed full of ideas” the broker could use in “marketing commercial and investment real estate,” according to a brochure.

The day cost $30. Klock was a member of the National Institute's Board of Governors and author of a recently published booklet on investing in real estate. Becker was billed as a charter CPE, former vice chairman of the California Association's exchange division and present member of the Council of the National Institute's commercial and investment division. Beck's double identification shows that the California connection still mattered, but that national identity was being established.

In 1970, courses were added to the CCIM curriculum which more fully reflected the spectrum of commercial activity, namely “user” courses as opposed to investment, and courses on syndication and taxes. By 1971, seven courses were offered in all: the introduction and CID (for commercial investment division) 1-6. The National Institute was in it by now with both feet, designing and sequencing courses to meet the demands of students.

The new user courses were the work of Fred Becker and Harold Trimble, another Californian. They covered leasing and development with emphasis on market and feasibility study rather than analysis with tax relief in mind.

In addition to the week-long courses, there were one-day clinics and two-day marketing sessions. One of the marketing sessions brought 100 CCIMs together from four Midwestern states.

Tony Perry went there from Kankakee, Ill. And he did his biggest deal ever, with a man from Michigan whom he had never met. A year later, at another four-state session, Perry topped that deal.

Jack Peckham went to a Chicago session from his native Boston and brokered sale of a post office building in Connecticut that he had never seen to a man from Michigan he had never met. These were networks to beat all. There was more to CCIM than tax tables and calculators.

The numbers showed it. More than 2,500 took the six courses in 1971. Of these 20 percent became candidates for the CCIM designation. Another 1,400 attended clinics and marketing sessions. In 1972 more than 3,800 took the courses, and 939 attended clinics and marketing sessions.

This was success of a sort, but Levine, Lyon, and the rest were not satisfied. They had the feeling something was missing. Instructors were going the Abe Lincoln route, writing course outlines on backs of envelopes or napkins.

The outlines were memory joggers for practitioners who knew what they wanted to say and needed little else. But doubts arose. Were they academically respectable, or weren't they?

Instructors were writing their courses, as Ruth Ellis, the CI Division's administrative secretary at the time and now its staff vice president, put it, “in splendid isolation.” They wanted a more professional look and feel to what they were doing. Confident of what they knew, they were not confident of themselves as educators. They had called on academia in the past, for help in writing courses. It was time do go back to the well.

So, five years into their national existence in 1972, the instructors, having begun in California and operated as far west as Hawaii in their earliest days, looked east to Connecticut, where they found the professionalism they were looking for.

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Chapter 4: Professionalizing the Teaching >