CCIM Education

A New Intro

CCIM education reaches for a broader audience.

The more some things change, the more others remain the same.

“IRR is IRR is IRR,” says Mark J. Polon, CCIM, founder of Polon Consulting, a CCIM senior instructor, and director of CCIM Institute’s Ward Center for Real Estate Studies. “The concept of the internal rate of return is the same as it was 20 years ago: It’s a concept that doesn’t change despite the changing market, and it’s still an integral part of the CCIM designation curriculum.”

While such concepts remain the bedrock of the commercial real estate industry, other aspects of the business of buying, selling, and financing investment real estate have undergone massive changes: a wave of mergers and acquisitions among national and regional brands has consolidated the industry; a recession has emphasized the need for diversification of skills and services; and the now-growing market is rife with skittish investors with a very low risk tolerance.

To serve this evolving industry, the CCIM education program is adding new ways to stay current. The result is a continuing commitment to upholding the standards of the designation curriculum while at the same time expanding the Ward Center courses to provide commercial real estate education at many levels, in many different formats, for many different professionals.

The success of the Ward Center has shown that a broad range of business professionals are interested in commercial real estate education, but they want shorter, more-targeted education available in different formats. “Education needs to be timely and relevant,” Polon says, “not only in terms of the material presented but also the way it’s presented.”

That interest has led to a revitalizing of the CCIM Institute’s two-day live course Introduction to Commercial Real Estate Analysis. An elective course, the two-day overview still serves as an introduction to the financial analysis tools used in commercial real estate.

The redesigned CI Intro course is now reaching for a wider audience: residential as well as commercial brokers; allied professionals who work in real estate, such as lawyers, lenders, and CPAs; analysts working for REITs and equity firms; and graduates of university real estate programs.

This reinvention meets the needs of a more-focused generation of career professionals. Given the current economy and job market, people want to know as much as they can before making a career decision, particularly in a field as potentially risky as commercial real estate. “Especially those interested in brokerage,” Polon says. “For brokers, it can be a long time before you see your first commission check. Deals are more complicated today; even the simplest deals take a long time. First-time brokers need to be prepared for the wait.”

The material emphasizes the skills and knowledge required for a successful career, along with a look at the tools used in the process of “doing” commercial real estate, Polon says. “It’s designed to help professionals understand how the business works and to answer a few questions for them. Am I cut out for this business? Do I have the requisite skills to be in this business? What knowledge do I need? And once acquired, how do I go about inserting myself in the business? How do I find my place?”

The course curriculum includes creating a marketing strategy both for the individual as well as for the asset they choose to represent. In addition, the course introduces participants to demographic analysis using STDB and other technology tools that are integral to success in today’s market.

Starting in June, CCIM chapters and other sponsors will begin offering the new CI Intro course as a two-day live presentation. “Chapters can invite a broad range of participants, hold a networking event on the first evening of the course, and expose them to the profession, the designation, chapter members, and the CCIM education process,” Polon says.

After the initial training and roll-out, other formats will be developed as well: online, self-paced, and shorter live presentations, depending on the needs of the audience. The course will be available to university real estate programs, along with brokerage franchises, corporations, and related real estate organizations. “The course will showcase the designation and promote it to a wider range of professionals,” Polon says.

Ward Courses Expand With the Changing Market

The first wave of the Ward Center for Real Estate Studies courses focus on financial analysis skills and include one-day classroom courses in Financial Analysis Tools for Commercial Real Estate and Residential Real Estate Financial Analysis. The online Ward courses cover more specific topics, including time value of money concepts, Excel-based financial analysis, and a number of other analysis methods.

Expanding on the success of these courses, the Ward Center is launching new offerings that include a number of business-related courses. “We want to reach a wider audience with basic business skills — communication, business writing, how to write a proposal,” explains Mark J. Polon, CCIM, director of the Ward Center.

For example, Polon developed a 90-minute instructor-led demonstration on Communications Skills for Business Professionals. “It has has to do with talking, listening, and presenting — skills that are essential in commercial real estate but also in other businesses,” he says. In addition, more-focused, industry-specific courses are available such as Understanding Argus, which demonstrates how to replicate Argus calculations in Excel among other techniques.

Visit the Ward Center online to see the range of course offerings and register at:


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