Young commercial real estate professionals always look for ways to boost their credibility and practical knowledge to succeed in this competitive and primarily commission-based industry. For many, acquiring the CCIM designation, becoming leaders in their local CCIM chapters, and serving the national CCIM Institute have been the panacea to spur their careers as either independent owners or key players at influential firms.
By the age of 26, Peter Barnett, CCIM, had already been at his father's firm, J.A. Barnett Realty Group, for eight years specializing in multifamily and class B offices, and earned his CCIM designation. A few years later, he wanted to move into corporate commercial real estate, negotiating lease transactions and interacting in a broader marketplace with asset managers and corporate executives.
“When I first got my CCIM designation, I knew it was applicable to being a broker,” says Barnett, director of real estate at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Tampa, Fla. “But I was concerned the CCIM designation was not going to be as applicable in the corporate world. But I quickly discovered that I needed it at PwC, too. The CCIM designation has been extremely helpful at my firm, particularly because credentialing is important to everyone. At PwC, credentialing is the new way to both guarantee and advertise that you have the knowledge that continues to be beneficial and applicable for your clients.”
James Milner, CCIM, was not born into the industry but discovered it by coincidence when working as a paralegal. His firm wrote a commission check to a broker for $75,000. “I thought that I could do this work,” says Milner, president of Appalachian Commercial Real Estate, in Boone, N.C.
After getting his broker's license in 2007, he looked at various professional designations and made the commitment to earn the CCIM designation. “CCIM is a community that helps each other and works together for the common good of the client,” Milner says. “My clients have come to know that those four letters behind my name mean that I am not only an expert, but someone they can rely on for sound common sense advice regarding the complexities of commercial real estate.”
Heading up NAI Norwood Group in Bedford, N.H., Christopher Norwood, CCIM, believes that earning the CCIM designation helps him provide a better level of service to his clients. In addition, it has opened doors for him. “I can call vice presidents and presidents of banks and know they will return my call because of my CCIM designation,” he says.
In his mid-20s, Norwood became chapter president of the New England CCIM Chapter, giving back to the profession and learning how to be a leader. “I took away even more than I gave to CCIM,” he says. “I got visibility and even national exposure by meeting CCIM leaders such as former CCIM presidents Karl Landreneau, CCIM, and Wayne D'Amico, CCIM, which allowed me to learn to work in different parts of the country.”
Already a broker with 11 years of experience, David Ellermann, CCIM, discovered CCIM Institute training through a client, Gerard Keating, CCIM, SIOR, who encouraged him to join the CCIM network and earn the designation. “Getting the CCIM designation complemented where I wanted to take my brand, which was to expand my network far beyond my market area,” says Ellermann, managing partner and founder of Ellermann Commercial Brokerage in Chicago.
While he closes plenty of transactions with buyers and sellers in Chicago, Ellermann has reached out to the CCIM network to find buyers nationwide. Through a contact found in CCIM's DealShare, the members-only online property database, he sold a Chicago area medical office building in a triple net lease transaction to a client of Rosemarie Fair, CCIM, owner of One Source Commercial, in Memphis, Tenn.
“Rosemarie has qualified buyers, and I knew that I could trust in her diligence with the transaction,” he says.
In New Orleans, Mi Mi Montagnet Bankston, CCIM, credits CCIM training and networking with making her more successful. “The CCIM education has enhanced my career by adding a level of sophistication to analyzing opportunities and being able to streamline the process,” says Montagnet Bankston, owner of M2 Brokerage. “The CCIM networking makes doing deals easier because you work with professionals you know. They evaluate properties and understand disposition and acquisition in a similar fashion to how you are trained.”
While these CCIMs are under 40 years old, they appreciate the lifelong learning CCIM Institute provides. “The education component to CCIM is a differentiator,” says Landon Williams, CCIM, vice president of Cushman & Wakefield in Memphis, Tenn. “We are strategic brokers considering the long-term welfare of our clients. We are continuing our education each and every day.”
Barnett describes the value of the CCIM designation and network in generational terms. “Millennials want to be utility players with a wide base of knowledge,” says Barnett, who also serves as a CCIM instructor. “The CCIM designation offers a broad base of knowledge that continues to be beneficial and applicable to both young and experienced professionals.”