CCIM Spotlight: Perfect Timing
The Education Foundation lends a helping hand at the right moment.
Receiving the scholarship was a blessing,” says Joan M. Harris, CCIM, CRB, GRI, broker/owner of Joan Harris Realty in Prairieville, La., and one of the first recipients of the Education Foundation of the CCIM Institute’s Gulf Coast scholarships. Harris was in the process of earning the designation when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
“The office I managed at the time took in six feet of water destroying everything,” she says. But with the scholarship assistance, Harris was able to finish her CCIM education, earn the designation, and most importantly, continue working through the devastation.
Immediately after the storm, Harris took on the role of supervising broker to assist Shell Oil Co. in locating 28 single-family residences in Prairieville, a suburb of Baton Rouge, La. Shell was looking for homes to lease to its displaced employees in that particular location. “My assignment was to identify these properties over a two- to three-week timeline,” she says. To accomplish this, Harris assembled a five-agent team, scoured the local market for suitable listings, and contacted potential sellers, she explains. Once completed, Harris’ team delivered a list of eligible properties to Shell Oil for its review.
While a challenging task, the team found residences that were in excellent condition with good curb appeal, priced from $160,000 to $285,000. “We also partnered with a property management company to help prepare the leases,” Harris says. Since many of the displaced Shell employees were not familiar with Prairieville, the team also provided information on local resources such as store locations, city/parish contacts, and recreational opportunities.
Before her career in real estate, Harris worked for an oil company. Making the switch to real estate in 1995, she worked for Latter & Blum/C.J. Brown Realtors for many years specializing in residential real estate. Harris recently left the company to explore opportunities in the commercial real estate sector including retail and multifamily. “I have always wanted to know more about commercial sales, and now because of having a CCIM education, I can,” she says. Harris plans to use some of the key concepts she learned in the CCIM courses in her future endeavors.
Aside from personally benefiting from the Gulf Coast scholarship, Harris says it was important to educate her colleagues about the institute and explain why her experience was so rewarding. As a result, three co-workers enrolled in CCIM courses and applied for scholarships as well. Though Harris admits she would have found a way to finance the rest of her CCIM education, she says that the “scholarship funding came at the perfect time.”