CCIM designation for commercial real estate professionals

(Note: WinnipegREALTORS® has been a long-standing centre of excellence in Canada for CCIM education, as it has the benefit of having two locally-based instructors in Bruce Harvey and Sandy Shindleman. Both have literally travelled the world to teach different CCIM courses to keen commercial real estate practitioners. This past September, an American based-instructor came to Winnipeg to teach the CCIM 103 User Decision Analysis course with its strong focus on leasing. The article below, by Neil Sharma, discusses CCIM and how it is growing in stature in Canada.)

Investing in commercial real estate can be a tricky undertaking, made all the more arduous by insufficient education. But an American-conceived designation, Certified Commercial Investment Member, or CCIM, which has established a foothold in Canada, promises to endow members with the wherewithal — and connections — to provide investment returns in some of the world’s hottest commercial real estate markets.

Toronto’s and Vancouver’s real estate booms make CCIM designation a particularly attractive option for Canadian real estate professionals. Perhaps because of its promising returns, designation is a rigorous endeavour. Offered both in classrooms and online, as well as in hybrid format, accreditation can take up to two years.

The 2016 president of CCIM’s Central Canada chapter, which is more than 20-years-old, said the benefits reaped, especially for real estate brokers, are vast because CCIM members draw upon each other internationally.

 “If you look at the stats for the breakdown of membership for CCIM worldwide, you’re sub-50 per cent brokers, but in Canada the breakdown is higher because most are brokers,” said Adam Powadiuk, who is also the business development manager at First National Financial in Toronto.

“It appeals mostly to brokers and it’s very concentrated. People within this industry recognize the designation,” he said. “The other big benefit for brokers is CCIM likes to do business with each other within the chapter and it extends provincially. When U.S. players come here with larger mandates, they’re calling CCIM here to do it, so you’re ending up with larger deals.”

Eight to 10 courses of online and classroom work plus real-world experience, which in total translates to roughly 250 hours, comprise the CCIM designation.

CCIM encompasses over 15,000 members, 300 of which are Canadian. The crux of CCIM designation allows members to navigate and profit from commercial real estate’s fast-moving markets. It also offers webinars, workshops and online courses in specialized topics through the Ward Center for Real Estate Studies.

Powadiuk said Toronto’s market in particular yields abundant intra-CCIM business, and while Canada’s largest city isn’t as remunerative as American markets, it is quickly growing.

Under his tutelage, Powadiuk has updated CCIM’s Canadian website, ensuring that it is mobile-ready and otherwise as practically efficient as it modern, and firmed the hybrid coursework since most registrants are busy professionals.

As important, Toronto will be hosting one of CCIM’s bi-annual conferences in October 2017. Its current VP of Central Canada and incoming 2017 president, Sunny Sharma, intends to double the chapter’s membership during his tenure, as well as develop additional educational material for members and prospective members. CCIM designation is also career enhancing for government employees, engineers and lawyers.

“We’re planning on showcasing Toronto and how it’s a great place to invest globally,” said Sharma. “To all of the people that are international who will visit in October 2017, the emphasis will be to showcase our city and areas around our city for investment purposes.”

Real estate partnerships are crucial to Central Canada’s growth strategy. Sharma hopes Canadian real estate professionals and service providers, especially on the commercial side, will attend the Toronto conference so that international partnerships can be forged.

Locally, though, Sharma said Markham’s tech sector can be an especially lucrative investment milieu, because — due in part to its favourable tax rate — commercial real estate opportunities are aplenty.

Sharma, broker at Century 21 Leading Edge Realty, will be flying to Shanghai later this year to embrace about 80 CCIM graduates. It is another example of how this designation bequeaths international investment prospects, as well as its emerging global prominence, he added.

Domestically, CCIM courses are now being touted by the Toronto Real Estate Board, which is a fairly recent development. Sharma believes such courses will likely attract professionals from other provinces.

“Being able to spread the word now more effectively, people that truly are serious about being able to look at real estate globally and evaluate it would probably opt to do this CCIM designation,” he said.

In order to maintain its gilt-edge, lofty requirements must be satisfied before application to the designation can even be considered.

“It is not as easy as taking a course — there are other requirements like tenure and (sales) volume,” said Sharma.

Courses include CCIM’s strict code of ethical business practice, as well as financial and market analysis.

Sharma said the designation is tried, tested and true for opening international gateways. It has helped him acquire international property for clients because he had fellow designees to rely upon. He calls the networking capabilities unparalleled.

Still, CCIM is about more than merely acquiring desirable parcels of real estate in hot spots.

“There’s a lot of sophisticated players within the market here and they’re in urban centres,” said Powadiuk. “Some people bought real estate because they thought it was great and the yield has been generous, but the way CCIM looks at real estate, it’s about optimizing.”