More than 300 people jammed the event center to enjoy breakfast and listen to a full slate of internationally recognized Certified Commercial Investment Members hold forth on a variety of topics, ranging from interest-rate forecasts to income-producing commercial real estate opportunities in Southwest Florida.
In the commercial real estate world, a commercial investment designation is considered a badge of honor. Designees must endure a lengthy and rigorous vetting process to ensure professional efficiency in both theory and practice before they gain admittance to the elite club and earn the lapel pin that comes along with it.
More than 15,000 commercial real estate professionals have earned the prestigious distinction so far, while another 5,500 are currently pursuing it.
“CCIMs are the experts in the commercial and investment real estate industry,” explained Bev Larson (pictured above), a 37-year real estate veteran, CCIM Southwest District President and conference organizer. “They’re considered the Ph. Ds of commercial real estate.”
This year’s conference was highlighted by a speech from Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors. Along with Yun, Larson said the entire group of speakers represented a golden opportunity for those employed in the commercial real estate business to learn from the best minds in the industry.
“Very few other conferences address commercial real estate, so this is a wonderful event for both networking and education,” she said. “Not only that, but this year we have a wonderful group of speakers from both the public and private sectors who do a wonderful job of providing that education.”
As it would turn out, a good deal of Thursday’s education came from Enn Luthringer of CRE Consultants. A regular conference presenter and past president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of CCIM, Luthringer said a glut of opportunities in larger markets have positively affected Southwest Florida’s commercial real estate fortunes.
“What’s happened is that institutional buyers who normally wouldn’t look at a secondary market like Southwest Florida are looking for investment deals here because of the saturation in larger markets such as Miami, Orlando, New York, Boston and Atlanta,” Luthringer said. “We’re not used to seeing these numbers, the big money paid for properties, but these are people who can identify a deal because they’ve seen it happen in other places.”
On a smaller scale, Bob White of Lee & Associates said a recent series of eye-popping residential sales locally, most notably in Naples, has also benefited Southwest Florida’s commercial real estate market.
“We’re seeing the benefits of the stabilization of the residential market, which leads to a resurgence in the commercial market,” White said, adding that fewer foreclosures locally also represent a positive sign for the commercial real estate market. “We’re all cautious, but also hopeful,” he said.
Nicole Gray, also of CRE Consultants, said she relished the chance to learn from the likes of Yun, Luthringer and White, and that’s what brought her back to the conference for the second year in a row.
“For me, it’s great to get an overall picture of what’s to come,” she said. “I have a good idea of what’s happening now, but to get a look at the future and where we’re heading is invaluable to me,” she said.
That sort of endorsement was music to Larson’s ears.
“Education is what we’re all about,” she said with a smile.
Source: Naples Daily News