There has been a lot of discussion on BiggerPockets about whether it’s worth getting your broker’s license, but the question of whether to get your CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) has been left mostly unanswered. I touched on what such a designation offers here, but it certainly isn’t for everyone.
What Type of Investor Should Consider a CCIM?
CCIM designees deal primarily with commercial real estate. This includes apartments, offices, retail, hospitality, and industrial. Very few of them do much in the residential and small multifamily space. CCIMs also include a variety of different professions involving real estate such as commercial brokers, lenders, and investors. If you focus predominately on smaller properties, a CCIM is probably not worth your time. The one exception is if, like us, you buy small properties in bulk, particularly by purchasing portfolios. On the other hand, if you are either in or aiming to get into the commercial space, a CCIM should certainly merit your interest.
This is especially true for brokers and lenders. A CCIM denotes a substantial amount of credibility in those industries, and given that brokers and lenders are looking to build such credibility with potential clients, a CCIM can be very beneficial.
Advantages to a CCIM
In my judgement, the biggest advantage to having your CCIM is the credibility that comes along with it. As mentioned above, it is probably the most beneficial to commercial brokers and lenders, but it can also be an advantage to investors as well. This is especially true if you are looking to do syndications where you raise private money for the down payment and then split the equity amongst your various investors. When doing such deals, you are usually raising funds from accredited investors. These investors are generally more sophisticated and thereby often more skeptical. Having a CCIM can help you establish your credibility as a seasoned, experienced, and trustworthy syndicator with such investors.
Of course, the education that you get from taking the CCIM courses can also be very valuable. The real estate calculator they provide is quite powerful and allows you to quickly and efficiently calculate the net present value and internal rate of return (IRR) of a potential investment, which are helpful metrics for larger and more complicated deals. No, you don’t need to calculate the IRR on a single family house (not that it would do much good). The after repair value (ARV) and estimated cash flow should be sufficient. But when it comes to larger apartment or other commercial deals, I would highly recommend looking past simply calculating the cap rate. (A brief rundown of the internal rate of return and net present value can be found here if you’re interested.)
And of course, the series of classes required to acquire your CCIM offer a lot of other helpful education as well.
Furthermore, having a CCIM puts you in a sort of club. You can attend your local CCIM meetings without the designation, but having one makes you more of a “go-to” figure in your community. I’ve heard other CCIM designees note that when they enter a new market, they will often look up the CCIM holders to contact first about it. This can be a great networking tool and help you get new clients or deal opportunities.
Finally, having your CCIM offers a variety of membership benefits such as access to their Site to Do Business for Real Estate Investors, which has tools such as ArcGIS Online and other programs as well as tuition discounts for additional classes and the like.
Disadvantages to a CCIM
The disadvantages of getting your CCIM boil down to two simple things: time and money.
To get your CCIM, you must complete four classes, each of which is four days long and costs $1,650 as of this writing ($1,145 for members). You can also take these classes online as I did. You must then also complete a short ethics course and negotiation course and finally take the comprehensive exam. All of this, of course, cost additional money. All in all, the classes and application fees add up to to either $8,960 (non-members) or $7,495 (members) as of this writing.
Finally, there is an annual fee of around $600 to maintain your membership.
In addition, you must also provide a portfolio of experience, which can be one of the following:
- “Three (3) or more qualifying activities totaling $30 million or more; or
- Exactly ten (10) qualifying activities totaling $10 million or more; or
- Twenty (20) qualifying activities with no dollar volume requirement.”
This portfolio can take some time to put together. I remember it being quite the pain. When that time is added to either the online or classroom courses, you will have to make a substantial time commitment in order to get your CCIM.
Should You Get Your CCIM?
That question is unfortunately one I can’t answer for you. A CCIM does require a substantial amount of money and time, but for many investors, that cost is worth it in the education, networking opportunities and credibility you will gain. Hopefully, this article will help clarify that choice.
Are you considering getting your CCIM? Why or why not?
Let us know below!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.