Choices of a New Generation
Recently designated CCIMs share career-building tips.
Cabezut, CCIM, qualifying broker with Eylim in Albuquerque, N.M., began working
in commercial real estate full time in June 2008. It was inauspicious timing,
to say the least.
many established industry professionals could rely on the client network they’d
cultivated during the boom years, Cabezut had to find new ways to generate
business in an increasingly inhospitable market climate. “I was facing a
downhill slide that was only getting steeper,” she explains. “I had to hunt
smarter, learn quicker, and think creatively.”
Cabezut wasn’t alone. Every CCIM who earned the designation in the last five
years has been forced to adapt to succeed in the “new normal.” The key lessons
they’ve learned provide insight to all commercialreal estate professionals who arefine-tuning their careerstrategies in today’s still-challenging
Find the Right Firm
Messina, CCIM, vice president of commercial brokerage with Brenner Real Estate
in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., values collaboration within a company. “We have a
very open and trusting environment in which business opportunities can be
discussed freely without the concern of another agent stealing your customer,”
he says. The brokers regularly team up on deals to maximize their
effectiveness, he adds.
collaborative environment also fosters training opportunities that might not
otherwise be available. “Join a firm that provides the best mentoring, both
from the firm and, if possible, from teaming up with a very experienced
broker,” says Bob Rein, CCIM, associate vice president with NAI REOC in Austin,
Texas. “You can attend all the classes in the world, but having a mentor and
other brokers willing to help is key.”
was Cabezut’s top priority when she began looking for a company after her
career change. “I wasn’t fresh out of college with years ahead of me,” she
says. “I wanted someone who would take me under wing, forego their ego to teach
me the ropes, and let me hit the ground running.”
she met Richard L. Diller, CCIM, who at the time was the qualifying broker at
one of the largest firms in Albuquerque.He was looking for a partner, and
Cabezut got the job. “Because of his reputation and my association with him,
many doors were opened for me,” she explains. “By his example, I learned that
it was very important to consider everything you are communicating, whether
oral, written, or in action; that relationships with both clients and
colleagues are to be treated with great respect; and that even the most dire
crises can be handled with honor.”
the best mentors can’t provide all of the education necessary to excel in
commercial real estate. Appraiser Christopher J. Phelps, CCIM, MAI, vice
president with G. Herbert Pritchett & Associates in Madisonville, Ky.,
pursued the CCIM designation a few years ago at the urging of his boss, Herb
Pritchett, CCIM, MAI. “He spoke highly of the education obtained through the
Institute,” Phelps says. “After looking into it myself and talking with other
CCIM professionals, I realized that it was a great networking opportunity and a
way to broaden my industry knowledge.”
are drawn to the designation’s prestige. Early in his commercial real estate
career, Micah J. McCullough, CCIM, vice president with UCR Properties in
Jackson, Miss., noticed a trend at local industry events: “The CCIMs were the
most successful and respected practitioners in our market,” he says. “I decided
then that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a young person or ‘up and comer’
in the business, then attaining the designation would set me apart.”
Z. Matysek, CCIM, president of Matysek Investment Group in Torrance, Calif.,
also noticed that many of the top investment professionals held the designation
when he began working in commercial real estate in 2007. “Plus,” he adds, “I
thought those letters after my name would look cool.”
during years when sales are scarce, it pays to have connections, Phelps says.
He recently turned to a fellow designee for data on a shopping center property
in Evansville, Ind. “I had some questions about the sale in regards to leases,
occupancy, and future expectations for the property’s performance,” Phelps
explains. “I introduced myself as a fellow CCIM and he told me everything he
could about the sale — staying within the ethical guidelines of course. I ended
up with some valuable information that led me to a concrete conclusion on my
Expand the Network
the CCIM network, making the right connections at business functions can be a
counterintuitive process. “Show up and listen, whatever the event,” McCullough
says. The leader of a workshop he recently attended explained it this way:
Listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time.
is a big reason I’ve been successful,” McCullough explains. “I have a genuine
interest in what other people have to say and am always trying to learn from
what other people have experienced.”
listening also allows networkers to find out how they can be of service to
other professionals. “I look for a way to help the other person,” Cabezut says.
She created a list of people whom she hoped to connect with in her market,
including developers, contractors, lenders, government officials, and brokers.
Then she re-examined the list, asking herself, “How can I help this person?”
When she implemented this plan, it helped her create relationships with market
leaders, and, in turn, generate new business.
networks with fellow brokers at real estate events hosted by his CCIM chapter
and other organizations to stay current on industry trends, local transactions,
and any off-market opportunities that might benefit his clients. But he also
belongs to groups such as BNI International and the local Rotary Club, which
allow him to connect with end users of commercial real estate. “Another great
way to network is to set up three to four lunches every week with local real
estate attorneys, CPAs, lenders, and others who are in the business and are
great sources of referrals,” Messina adds.
the sheer number of potential networking opportunities can be overwhelming,
says Ken Wimberly, CCIM, managing director of Noble Crest Property Group/KW
Commercial in Arlington, Texas. He focuses on industry groups such as the
Greater Fort Worth Society of Commercial Realtors and his local commercial
information exchange, for which he served as president. “It is imperative to
know the deal makers in the business and to get known as the expert,” he says.
CCIMs are also finding fellow deal makers online. Rein uses LinkedIn to expand
his networking reach and build trust among potential colleagues and clients.
His posts on Austin market trends, for example, have generated interest from
investors based in his home state of Arizona.
while technology such as social media has been a boon to many industry
professionals, simply inviting a colleague to lunch can foster the strongest
connections and yield timeless bits of wisdom. For example, when Cabezut
changed careers, she had lunch with a well-respected professional who had 40
years of experience. “I asked him, if he had only one piece of advice he could
give me about commercial real estate, what would it be?” she says. “He paused
for a moment, then looked me in the eye and said, ‘It doesn’t matter what the
market is doing: There is always someone out there who has a need.’”
they’ve held the designation for one year or 40 years, CCIMs who are ready to
adapt can meet that need.
Rich Rosfelder is
associate editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.
More Advice From the New Generation
Know your limits.
be afraid to spread your property type, but know your limits,” says Davide F.
Pio, CCIM, CRS, LEED-AP, a broker associate with BCRE in Pinole, Calif. “If you
think you like office and retail but have an opportunity to work an apartment
deal, co-broker it with a knowledgeable associate in that field to get the
experience. I’ve seen investment brokers switch to tenant reps and apartment
brokers become heavy on the office/industrial end of things.”
“I’m willing to adapt and use new techniques and
practices,” says G. Anthony Baldwin, CCIM, broker/owner with Baldwin Realty
Group in Carver, Mass. “Oftentimes, an experienced practitioner will be set in
their ways, unable to allow themselves to break their habits, even when those
new techniques can prove to be an asset.”
Obtain the CCIM
“When I explain my
CCIM courses to people, I tell them that I learned more practical real-world
tools and knowledge in my CCIM coursework than I did from my college and
graduate school business professors,” says John L. Hummer, CCIM, president of
Steinborn TCN Commercial Real Estate in Las Cruces, N.M. “The instructors and
courses are outstanding.”
Keep your head
“Persevere!” says Michael T.
Giuliano, CCIM, senior vice president with Lee & Associates in Ontario,
Calif. “It’s easy to get discouraged when starting off in this business, which
can feel ruthless, overwhelming, and unfulfilling at first.”
Use the tools.
“I utilize almost all of the tools available to me
through CCIM — STDB, REI Wise, CCIMREDEX, CCIM MailBridge,” says Bob Rein,
CCIM, associate vice president with NAI REOC in Austin, Texas. “I also stay
educated by taking CCIM’s Ward Center for Real Estate Studies courses and
incorporating methodologies like [CCIM Instructor] Mark Polon’s Creating
Reliable Valuations in determining property values.”
“I’m big on database
organization,” says Paul Z. Matysek, CCIM, of Matysek Investment Group in Torrance,
Calif. “It’s the Google concept. The better organized you are with your
information … and the more quickly you can bring it forth when needed, the more
impressive and valuable you become to clients.Brokers are connectors and
leaders of transactions. The art of it is knowing when to push, pull, or drop
and move on to increase the percentages.”