If you are involved in Miami 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. Maybe it stands for “Can Communicate in Miami?” Perhaps “Counts Coins in Millions”? How about “Cash Calculation is Magical”?
The true answer is very simple, but also 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 1990s I was involved in the financial arena of real estate, owning and operating lending and insurance companies. When business slowed down in the mid-2000s, I closed or sold those companies and got involved in restaurants, eventually growing a well-known concept to 14 stores throughout South Florida. This led me into multiple restaurant sales with regional and national brands, and in some of those chains I would come across one or two units with “Real Estate owned” included in the deal. That encouraged me to get my real estate license, and I took a strong liking to structured deals. Having been completely out of real estate for almost a decade, I decided to pursue the CCIM designation to really bring my skills and knowledge up to speed. Two years later, in March 2015, I paid my $1,000-plus to take the exams in Chicago (on my own dime), and sweated out the results by continually “refreshing” the CCIM website hours later!
The rewards have gone beyond anything I could have imagined. In addition to all the aforementioned benefits offered by the CCIM Institute, I enjoy the support and camaraderie of a very high-quality group of seasoned professionals. Quantifiable benefits include my recent earning of a bank-owned REO listing, for which I was selected over a well-known national company. I also have two deals currently under contract, and on both the “other side” is a fellow CCIM, which provides an extraordinarily high level of comfort for me and my clients.
For something so valuable and rewarding, you might be surprised to learn how few commercial agents have the CCIM designation. Here in Miami, there are just over 2,000 licensed commercial agents, of which only 130 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 Miami sale or purchase.
Agustin Duarte, CCIM, is a commercial real estate agent with RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall. He can be reached at 305-450-5992 and firstname.lastname@example.org.