Influencing Education

Experience is one of the most valuable assets in a commercial real estate professional's portfolio. For Barbara Crane, CCIM, who was hooked on real estate at just 12 years old, learning the fundamentals was also a family affair. “Back when I was growing up, there were no pre-license classes to attend,” she says. “So I helped my mother prepare for the Alabama real estate license exam by reading her multiple-choice questions from a practice exam. I believe I could have passed the exam if only I were old enough to sit for it,” jokes Crane, who is currently associate director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in San Antonio.

With a background in office leasing and Master of Public and Private Management degree, Crane earned the CCIM designation in 2000 and has since shared her passion for commercial real estate and education as a senior instructor for the Institute. Crane was recognized earlier this year for her industry achievements as one of Real Estate Forum magazine's 2013 Women of Influence. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked Crane to share what drives her passion for real estate and education.

CIRE: What inspired you to become an instructor for the CCIM Institute?

Crane: Teaching for CCIM is extremely rewarding in many ways. First, there is the involvement with the students, which is so exciting. Every time I teach a course, I learn something new from our students related to issues they have encountered in their markets and meet fascinating people from all walks of life who are drawn to our courses for myriad reasons. I also love seeing the light bulb appear over someone's head when they realize something I have just said will help them overcome a current struggle. In addition, I truly enjoy working with fellow instructors to continually develop, review, and update our curriculum content to ensure that CCIM is providing the most comprehensive professional commercial real estate training available in the world. Finally, the contacts I have made through CCIM have allowed me to broaden my real estate practice to include involvement with sales of investment properties and a move to San Antonio.

CIRE: You were instrumental in the development of CCIM's Advanced Negotiations course. What key elements of the course have the most applicability for commercial real estate professionals?

Crane: I served on a CCIM education task force that eventually evolved into the Robert L. Ward Center for Real Estate Studies. The task force commissioned a survey to determine what skills members wanted to learn more about in our existing courses. Overwhelmingly, members said they wanted negotiations training.

As a result, we developed the Advanced Negotiations course to focus exclusively on interest-based negotiations. The model is designed to ensure the best possible outcomes for each of the parties involved in the negotiation while preserving valuable relationships. It isn't at all about win-lose or zero-sum game tactics. In the class, we teach participants a very disciplined and thorough approach to negotiating that ensures interests of all parties have been considered. This also involves teaching creative problem-solving strategies and the value of making all possible alternatives available to the parties before beginning to negotiate so as not to be caught unaware during the process.

CIRE: What real-world business experiences do you share with students in the courses you teach and how does it benefit students?

Crane: The real benefit of having experienced commercial real estate practitioners as instructors is that in a multi-decade career we have pretty much seen and heard it all. We've weathered several economic cycles - good and bad - and have seen effective and ineffective ways of dealing with a multitude of situations. I encourage my students to stay in touch with me after their courses - I serve as a resource as they apply the tools we have given them.

CIRE: What are a few of the most critical concepts in CCIM's core courses that equip students to navigate today's commercial real estate market?

Crane: We teach our students to use a wealth of analytical tools that may be applied in their dealings with clients.

Real estate deals and clients are unique. While similarities exist from one deal to the next, each one of them is different. The CCIM education equips students with the knowledge to deal with a broad range of situations they may encounter in their career. The bonus is gaining access to a network of other designees across the country and across all disciplines.


Jennifer Norbut is senior editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate. If you have a story worth sharing in CCIM Q&A, send it to

Jennifer Norbut

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