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2010 Rising Stars

CCIM Feature
2010 Rising Stars
The investment in their CCIM education is paying off for these young professionals.
by Jennifer Norbut

Return on investment is one of the most important principles in commercial real estate. But when it comes to earning the designation, the ROI on a CCIM education is something you “simply can’t calculate in a T-bar because you can’t factor in the invaluable knowledge, technology, and contacts you gain as a CCIM,” says Christopher Norwood, CCIM, one of eight designees selected as 2010 CCIM Rising Stars. Although they have held the designation for five years or less, these rising stars attribute many of their professional achievements to the unparalleled education, members-only technology tools, and networking opportunities they’ve acquired through the CCIM program. By combining the designation with their drive to succeed, these CCIMs will reap the rewards of their investment throughout their careers.

Christopher Norwood, CCIM
Executive Vice President, NAI Norwood Group
Bedford, N.H.

As a young college graduate eager to dive into commercial real estate, “I could do more with Excel spreadsheets than you can imagine,” Norwood says. “But I didn’t have any idea how to apply them in the real world.” That’s why joining the New England CCIM Chapter back in 2004 “was a huge door opener for me,” he says.

While the education he was gaining in the CCIM program was important, the networking with seasoned professionals was the linchpin in Norwood’s quick rise through the industry ranks. Local chapter events provided invaluable opportunities, he says. “Where else could a 23-year-old get the chance to talk to some of the most senior-level brokers in the Boston market?” These opportunities also translated into closed transactions: Norwood attributes more than 60,000 square feet of leased office space “directly to the [CCIM] pin.”

He also has taken the time to give back to the local chapter, serving as treasurer, vice president, and two terms as president. “There was a time when I was sitting in classes and meetings and I was very young and intimidated by CCIMs. But everyone who has the pin wants you to earn the designation and be part of the organization,” Norwood says. “Reach out to someone who has the pin, because they’ll help you to earn it too.”

Joseph Edge, CCIM
Broker/President, Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Co.
Augusta, Ga.

At 27, Edge has accomplished more in commercial real estate than many do throughout their entire careers. “I have started my own company, acquired one of my largest competitors, and now own and run one of the largest commercial real estate companies in Georgia,” he says. But as a young broker, there was one thing Edge lacked: “I needed to establish credibility,” he says. “I could find no better way to do that than to obtain the CCIM designation.”

He credits the designation with tripling the size of his company’s leasing portfolio, bringing in numerous referrals, and helping to recruit and retain the market’s top talent. In addition, “clients are impressed with the qualifications and networking abilities CCIMs have,” Edge says. Citing CCIM’s MailBridge as his “one-stop place to network and get answers to questions,” Edge has used the members-only online e-mail platform to secure financing, find property buyers, and locate an auction company. “A young broker can draw from brokers with up to 40 years of experience. That puts me ahead of the competition,” he says.

Edge feels that the investment in CCIM will pay dividends for years to come. “The monetary cost and time that I put into getting the designation has already paid for itself 10 times over,” he says. “I am sure that 10 to 15 years from now when I look back, earning the designation will be the step that took my career to the next level.”

Jill Duemeland, CCIM
Partner, Duemelands Commercial
Bismarck, N.D.

Though many designees are exposed to the CCIM program early in their careers, few can say it literally shaped their career path from childhood. But that’s exactly when Duemeland first encountered the CCIM designation: “I remember being a young girl, traveling to different places where my dad was taking the [CCIM] courses, and watching him study for the exams.” While her father, Skip Duemeland, CCIM, may have been influential, Duemeland’s drive and passion for commercial real estate are all her own.

“I use CCIM principles and relationships in every transaction,” she says. For example, national brokerage firm CresaPartners represents a large client who needed a go-to expert in the local market to analyze suitable exit strategies for a Minot, N.D., call center. The California-based property owner had a loan obligation and wanted the vacating tenant to pay $800,000 to exit the lease. “We conducted lease buyout analyses and calculated a net present value that saved our client $675,000,” Duemeland says. “My Cresa contact was really impressed that I brought points to the transaction that he didn’t expect and added a lot of value for the client.”

Duemeland credits her father, who currently serves on the national CCIM Board of Directors, with “absorbing the culture of CCIM leadership and bringing it back to our company,” where all agents are required to earn the CCIM designation. “We infuse CCIM’s professionalism and technology into everything we do. It really aids in all aspects of our business,” she says.

Christopher Q. Jackson, CCIM
Commercial Broker/Adviser, Woodward Commercial Realty
Newburgh, Ind.

In today’s tenuous commercial real estate market, creativity can seal deals. But combine creativity with the skills taught in the Ward Center’s Advanced Negotiation Workshop, and brokers such as Jackson are equipped to piece together even the most puzzling transactions.

Jackson’s $2.6 million sale of a multitenant retail property in Evansville, Ind., is a case in point. The deal included two properties — a single-tenant stand-alone building next to a three-tenant property. “The deal got underway just as the credit markets froze in fall 2008. Three of the four tenants were on very short-term leases and I needed to negotiate longer terms to close the deal.”

A major contingency was the leases’ five-year option periods, Jackson says. The buyer needed early renewal options, but the tenants wanted lower rental rates due to the faltering economy and stability because of the property’s great location. Jackson negotiated a deal that allowed the tenants to sign early five-year renewal options, yet kept the rents at the same lease rate for two years into the option period for two of the leases. The third tenant didn’t want to sign a renewal option because he had equity in the property. So Jackson “negotiated with the seller to escrow three years’ worth of rent and common area maintenance costs upon closing.”

Ultimately, Jackson negotiated a win-win-win scenario. “It was good for the seller because it didn’t reduce the purchase price, and if the tenant stayed an extra year-and-a-half, the seller got the escrowed money back. It was beneficial for the buyers because they were guaranteed three years of rental income and common area maintenance expenses. And, the bank was satisfied because it was the fairest deal for both parties.”

Justin Cazana, CCIM
Director of Leasing/Marketing, Commercial & Investment Properties
Knoxville, Tenn.

Just a few years ago, CCIMs may have questioned how the terms viral and marketing could work together in their favor. But today, viral marketing has become one of Cazana’s most strategic methods for getting the word out about his company’s properties. “I recently read that business-related tweets have increased more than 600 percent in the past two years,” Cazana says, referring to the Twitter social media plaftorm. “It makes sense. The efforts you put into Facebook, Twitter, and other social media eventually drive traffic directly back to your company.”

Cazana incorporates CCIM’s MailBridge platform into his comprehensive property marketing strategy as well. For example, “Today I can send an e-mail on MailBridge for a listing, tomorrow I can post the listing on our Facebook page and through Twitter, and later in the week, I can send an e-mail blast to more than 700 regional brokers.” There’s value in simply having the company’s name appear so frequently and in a variety of formats, Cazana says. As a result of this repeat exposure, “Owners automatically know we are active in the market and say, ‘We want them to represent our building.’”

Cazana has successfully blended social media with traditional marketing strategies to lease more than 150,000 sf in Century Park, an 80-acre four-building office development in Knoxville. He also uses STDBonline demographic reports to show prospective tenants — including seven Fortune 500 companies — the value of being in one of the fastest-growing locations in the market. “Every CCIM should use these tools to their advantage. You can really grab clients and illustrate the data that’s critical to them.”

T. Sean Lance, CCIM
Managing Director/President of Troubled Asset Optimization, NAI Tampa Bay
Tampa, Fla.

While the stormy commercial real estate market has caused many industry professionals to set sail on new career courses, Lance has used his CCIM skill set to define a market-driven niche for his company. “As a multifamily sales and investment expert, I already had solid relationships with local lenders and property managers,” Lance says, making him the logical choice to head up his company’s new Troubled Asset Optimization division last year.

“My CCIM investment, financial, and market analysis skills were instrumental in helping me design and implement this program from the ground up,” he says. In his role as president of the TAO division, Lance primarily works with lenders and special servicers to facilitate distressed asset transactions. And, while the education has been important in working with distressed properties, “the relationships and networking tools available through CCIM have been critical to the TAO program’s success.” The proof is in the numbers: Lance closed two distressed asset transactions in 1Q10, has eight distressed properties currently under contract, and has obtained six exclusive assignments in recent months. “I firmly believe that my CCIM education and the professional network have helped me achieve success in one of the worst markets in real estate history,” he says.

Amber Teresa Lenz, CCIM
President, First Texan Realty Group
San Antonio

Though a third-generation real estate professional already may have the resources and client base necessary to succeed, Lenz says the CCIM education taught her how to “really analyze and present investments to clients in a way that gives them more confidence to move forward with deals.”

Resources exclusive to members, such as the RERC/CCIM Investment Trends Quarterly reports, are what give Lenz that extra edge. In a recently closed multifamily investment transaction, she used an ITQ market report to illustrate that the capitalization rate she had calculated for the investment was much more favorable than the local market cap rate average. “It helped the client realize that they were getting a really great deal,” Lenz says.

Because of her successful track record in the market, Lenz was recruited by the South Texas CCIM Chapter to provide a local multifamily overview at its Fall 2009 symposium and serve on the chapter’s board of directors. She also recently took the Ward Center’s Advanced Negotiation Workshop, which “gave me a whole new perspective on how to negotiate deals,” she says. And, in this challenging market, “if I can use the negotiation techniques I learned in just one deal, the class will more than pay for itself.”

Garrett Hallenbeck, CCIM
Vice President, Hallmark Investment & Management
Reno, Nev.

Being an independent local brokerage “used to eliminate us from gaining tenant representation opportunities with national companies,” Hallenbeck says. But the power of the CCIM designation changed that: “My designation has opened the door for our company. Now I am regularly contacted through the CCIM online directory by national companies that otherwise never would have known we existed.”

Though Hallenbeck started his career as a property manager for a large national brokerage firm, after a few years he decided to join a smaller, independent company to gain experience with all aspects of investment real estate and brokerage. Already a Certified Property Manager, he understood the value of earning a highly respected designation. “The CCIM after my name shows clients that commercial real estate is not just a job to me. It shows them that I’m serious and that I’m committed to my career.”

CCIM.com’s Find a Professional online directory of designees has helped Hallenbeck connect with national corporations, such as Wal-Mart, Allstate, State Farm, HP, and Centex, looking to lease or buy space in the Reno market. “Since we are an independent company, the CCIM network has become our national network, and because I am a CCIM these companies know that I’m credible. The designation gives me some of the same opportunities as the big national players.”
 

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Jennifer Norbut is senior director of communications for CCIM Institute.

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