Journey to Commercial Real Estate & My CCIM Designation
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
If you are involved in Acadiana real estate in any capacity — as an investor, broker, or even as a renter — you may have seen or met a commercial real estate agent with the CCIM designation and wondered what that meant.
The answer is quite significant for anyone involved in leasing, appraisals, investments, property management, lending, banking and/or development. CCIM stands for Certified Commercial Investment Member; an elite designation earned by only 6 percent of commercial real estate practitioners around the world. The CCIM Institute is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, and some of the world’s leading companies, organizations and universities count CCIM members among their ranks.
To earn the CCIM designation, a candidate must complete six rigorous courses in financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, investment analysis, ethics and negotiating (totaling 160 hours of case-driven study); submit a portfolio of qualifying industry experience; and then demonstrate practical expertise by passing six challenging and comprehensive exams. Those who pass the exams and earn their CCIM pin enjoy the support of local chapters that provide networking, mentoring and education opportunities; designation promotion in business publications; market data and site analysis; reports on core income-producing properties; and member transaction data and trends. Numerous continuing education opportunities are always available as well.
My personal CCIM journey was lengthy and a bit unusual.
In the mid-1980’s I was involved in the oil field like many others in South Louisiana. When the oil field slowed down, or should I say collapsed, I found myself unemployed with no formal education or skills outside the offshore marine industry. This initially led me to my childhood passion, aviation. Armed with my life savings and a contribution from my parents, I loaded my bicycle in a rental car and headed to an accelerated flight training academy in Panama City, FL. Already a private pilot, in 9 intense weeks I earned my commercial license along with an instrument and multi-engine rating. Upon returning home, a close friend helped me obtain my certified flight instructor license.
Listening to my father’s wisdom I took a slight detour and enrolled in USL perusing a degree in Finance. While most of my classmates were bagging groceries and waiting tables, I was a flight instructor at Paul Fournet Air Service in Lafayette. Along comes Denice and I’m married before finishing college in 1989. After graduation, entry level pilot jobs were simply not paying well enough for a college graduate, so there went my career in aviation.
Back to my CCIM CRE career. Armed with a finance degree and the oil field job market still waning, I went to work for Hibernia National Bank in Baton Rouge and later transferred back to Lafayette. Hands down, commercial banking is one of the best perquisites for a career in commercial real estate. Over the years I underwrote and made multi-million loans, many of which were real estate transactions.
Having enough of the big bank drama, I set out on my own in 1999, our daughter, Elizabeth was born, and I bought my first commercial property, it was an eventful year for me. Getting a taste of investment real estate encouraged me to get my real estate license in 2011 and soon after I began pursuing my CCIM designation to bring my CRE skills and knowledge up to speed. After two years of hard work, taking classes in Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans and online, I passed the CCIM final exam in Nashville, TN in 2014. The CCIM program was challenging, with MBA level course work and rigorous five-day classes and final exams. It felt like I was drinking from a fire hose, wide open I might add.
For something so valuable and rewarding, you might be surprised to learn how few commercial agents have the CCIM designation. Here in Acadiana, there are approximately 1,500 licensed agents, of which only about 15 are CCIMs.
I would encourage any commercial real estate agent to challenge themselves by taking a few CCIM classes, even if they don’t plan to seek the designation right away. These courses will dramatically improve their understanding of our industry and make them a better professional across the board.
Now that you understand what the CCIM designation means, you can put your knowledge to good use. Just as you would only consider a board-certified surgeon for your operation, or a CPA to do your taxes, look for those four letters when choosing a commercial real estate professional to handle your CRE sale or purchase.
Tim Skinner, CCIM, is a commercial real estate agent with Scout Real Estate in Lafayette, LA and can be reached at (337) 443-0880.