Among Southern Nevada’s commercial real estate professionals is an elite group of well-educated, experienced, dedicated and charitable individuals called Certified Commercial Investment Members (CCIMs).
“Within CCIM there’s camaraderie and a community that I, in 30 years, have not seen in any other organization,” said Christopher McGarey, CCIM, of Berkshire Hathaway HS Nevada Properties. McGarey, who was awarded his CCIM pin in 2006, is the 2018 Southern Nevada CCIM Chapter president.
In the Southern Nevada region, about 75 individuals hold the designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member. Fewer than 6 percent of the world’s commercial real estate professionals have achieved CCIM status. CCIMs are individuals whose real estate work is commercial focused and transaction based, such as brokers, lenders, property managers and title agents.
“CCIMs are known as an expert in their field,” explained Chris Richardson, CCIM, a director at Logic Commercial Real Estate. “They are serious about advancing and staying on top of some of the best educational offerings [available].”
Since 1988, the Greater Las Vegas area’s CCIMs have organized as the Southern Nevada CCIM Chapter, a group that welcomes CCIMs, CCIM candidates (those working toward the designation) and non-CCIM industry affiliates as members. Anyone can join the chapter and at any time. Today, membership exceeds 250 individuals.
“Our chapter is one of the best in the nation. We add great value for our members,” said Jennifer Ott, CCIM, the executive vice president focused on retail at Las Vegas-based ROI Commercial Real Estate.
The local chapter is part of a national association, the CCIM Institute, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Comprised of 50 chapters spanning 30 countries, it provides designees with an immediate, worldwide network and opportunities to build relationships and work with other members, locally, nationally and globally.
Southern Nevada CCIM Chapter members enjoy their ongoing and growing philanthropic and community efforts.
“We want to give back to our community,” said Salina Ramirez, CCIM, chair of the chapter’s Community/Social Events Committee. “We love being a part of that. And I think it’s a huge benefit. We’re able to, so why not?” Ramirez, a CCIM since 2015, is an agent at Las Vegas’ Commercial Executives Real Estate Services.
Last year alone, the chapter raised and donated a total of $21,100 to several local entities, including:
- John S. Park Elementary School
- Las Vegas Victims Fund
- Three Square
- Spread the Word Nevada
- Salvation Army’s Las Vegas Adult Rehabilitation Center
At every year-end, the chapter invites representatives from and people served by these groups to its holiday luncheon, at which it presents to each entity a check. At the last such event, children from the elementary school who attended played violin for the audience, using instruments purchased with the CCIM chapter’s donation.
New in 2017, the Community/Social Events Committee turned one of the annual sponsorship events, the Putt-Putt mixer, into a fundraiser. Proceeds of $5,600 went to the fund for victims of the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
For three years now, the popular annual poker tournament—65 people played in the last one, the biggest turnout ever—has been a fundraiser for The Salvation Army’s Las Vegas Adult Rehabilitation Center in honor of the late Andy Hantges, a fellow CCIM.
Along with money, the chapter’s members give their time by assisting their non-profit organization partners in various ways. For example, in a recent collaboration, they helped interview young applicants for scholarships from Project 150, a group that offers support and services to homeless high school students. For the Three Square food bank, chapter members pack lunches or serve food a few times a year. For Spread the Word Nevada, which advances childhood literacy, they help however they can, primarily collecting and donating books, but even cleaning books.
Ramirez predicts the chapter becoming more involved with the community’s young adults in a mentoring capacity in the future.
“I just see us going in that direction, and I’m really excited for [us] to become part of that,” she said.
Other ways CCIM designees contribute is by serving on the chapter board, its various committees and/or volunteering at the national level.
Plethora of Events
The chapter’s major annual fundraiser event is the Wine Soirée and Silent Auction, held every fall. This year, the 22nd consecutive one, will have a Havana Nights theme. In 2017, with 195 guests in attendance, the chapter raised $30,000 through sponsorships, the auction and raffle ticket sales.
“I want to beat those numbers; I’m hoping to set a record this year,” said Ott, the chapter’s chair of the Wine Tasting Committee, co-chair of the Candidate Guidance Committee and president-elect.
Every month the chapter holds an educational networking luncheon, where a panel of experts presents on a timely, relevant topic. For example, one recent program was on Opportunity Zones established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Past discussions included business opportunities on Strip land, the effects of the marijuana business on Las Vegas and how investment sales should affect the city in the current year. Each luncheon draws about 150 people.
“[The panels] have helped us be on top of our game and be aware of the developing trends,” said Andy Crawford, a CCIM since April 2017, a chapter director and chair of the Programs Committee, which organizes and holds the monthly luncheons. Crawford is also a vice president at CommCap Advisors specializing in originating non-recourse loans, those secured by collateral but which the borrower does not personally guarantee.
Each year culminates with a special holiday luncheon for the chapter’s members, donation recipient groups and sponsors. Also for sponsors and designees is a fun, annual appreciation party, like the well-attended, catered Golden Knights game and mixer in 2017. The 2018 bash, held in June, was an ice skating mixer at City National Arena, featuring a D.J. and food from MacKenzie River Pizza.
Being a CCIM garners prestige and respect, which is well earned, as these select individuals have put in the considerable effort, time and resources required to attain a significant goal.
It opens the door to referrals from within the CCIM network, locally, nationally and internationally. CCIMs like to do business with other CCIMs as they “speak the same language” and inherently trust one another, said Ott.
It means having at their fingertips the tools and resources needed to carry out their day-to-day work in the industry. Resources include, among others, an individual profile on CCIM.com, an e-mail-based network called DealShare, various business forms, a property-marketing platform and the often-used Site To Do Business, an integrated online service for comprehensive site analysis, mapping, demographic data, photos and more.
All of these are available through the umbrella organization, the CCIM Institute, and because CCIMs must be an institute member, they have access to them. Other institute perks for CCIMs include access to certain publications, tuition discounts and affinity programs for travel, printing and commercial real estate technology.
CCIMs have opportunities to stay current in their field, between the monthly panel discussions at the luncheons and additional continuing education courses.
Particularly today, having the CCIM designation is beneficial and valuable.
“We’re working in interesting times,” Ott said. “Things are shifting and changing in the industry, and in the marketplace. We’re better able to provide quality market analysis and to advise and facilitate our clients.”
Two recent major changes in Southern Nevada’s commercial real estate landscape are the Golden Knights, the 2018 NHL Western Conference champions, having made the area their home and the Oakland Raiders slated do so as well. The former team has its practice rink in Downtown Summerlin, and the latter has a practice field in West Henderson, a region that is growing as a result.
“They have attracted other, related businesses—marketing, development, construction. The ripple effect is phenomenal. And they bring a lot of energy. I predict that sometime we’ll get an NBA team as well as an MLB team,” said McGarey
A major advantage to being a chapter member is the chance to belong to and interact with an industrious and enjoyable group of peers, at monthly meetings, social events, community outreach activities and more, and participate in what all is going on, to the extent desired.
McGarey added, “There’s no backbiting. The competitiveness stops at the door. It’s more of a spirit of, ‘let’s work together.’”
Many people join Southern Nevada CCIM for the opportunities to network and make connections, to possibly do business with the area’s deal makers and potential clients. Two parties might strike a deal at a lunch.
“[The chapter] offered me the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the professionals doing what I wanted to do. I was looking for an outlet to further my career,” said Richardson, who joined Southern Nevada CCIM before getting pinned. A CCIM since 2011, today he’s a chapter board member and chair of the Marketing/Communications Committee.
The local group presents opportunities for developing, not just new business relationships, but lasting friendships as well.
Being involved can help individuals grow personally in areas of public speaking, leadership, mingling, socializing and more.
Additionally, the chapter has alliances with other industry groups, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Commercial Alliance Las Vegas (CALV), Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), allowing for inter-connections as well.
Finally, joining the chapter makes sense economically, as it’s more affordable to join than pay for each individual luncheon.
What it Takes
To earn the CCIM designation, candidates must fulfill an extensive curriculum that includes classes in financial, market, user and investment analyses, ethics and negotiations. They must submit a portfolio of qualifying experience—transactions or consultations that meet certain monetary and time standards—and pass a comprehensive examination, which is offered twice a year, in April and October. This set of requirements ensures that designees are proficient in both theory and practice.
Once all requirements are met successfully, candidates “get pinned.” Pinning is the process of getting sworn in as an official CCIM and being awarded the exclusive, red “CCIM” lapel pin that denotes their achievement and new status. This is done by the new designees’ chapter president at one of the CCIM Institute’s twice-yearly governance meetings following the big exam.
“I joke that it’s the most expensive piece of jewelry that I own, between the time and the money for the education and the experience that are behind it,” Ott said.
All course materials are provided by the CCIM Institute, which regularly develops new offerings, both individual and series, and a mix of online and in person and local and national. The evolving catalog of courses includes, for instance, Commercial Loan Underwriting, Splitting Profits and Advanced Market Analysis. The institute recently created a Real Estate Development Specialty Track curriculum, which requires 10 courses plus 40 hours of elective credits to earn the distinction.
CCIM candidates can rest assured they’re not alone in the process, as the Southern Nevada CCIM Chapter has a committee whose responsibility is guiding and mentoring potential designees along the way.
“We are always available to answer questions for candidates and individuals looking to become candidates for the designation,” said Robin Civish, CCIM as of 2009, chair of the chapter’s Candidate Guidance and Education Committees, a past president, current director and regional representative. She also is the executive vice president of retail at ROI Commercial Real Estate.
Other assistance for candidates comes in the form of scholarships. Some can be applied toward core classes, some towards other education, including the Comprehensive Course Review for the CCIM exam or the two-day Foundations for Success class. Since 2000, the chapter has awarded $78,000 in scholarships.
For anyone interested in pursuing the CCIM designation, whether new to the business or veterans, Civish recommends they take Foundations for Success.
“This will give them a taste of the rest of the education and gets them excited about everything they will learn,” she added.
For those who’ve achieved the CCIM designation, it signifies they have worked hard and long and have elevated their careers. It shows they have a commitment to and a deep understanding of the commercial real estate industry and investment-based principles. It means that they’re just as knowledgeable about the field as their clients and can represent them well.
“It’s really something of a milestone,” Crawford added.
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