Harber, Flint, and Cooper among CCIMs in Brevard County
by: Ken Datzman
Commercial real estate transactions often present complex problems that need to be addressed by an industry professional.
And experts say it’s a smart investment to seek out someone who holds the Certified Commercial Investment Member designation, an industry standard, when considering buying, selling, or leasing commercial real estate.
The commercial real estate profession is a specialized field, covering everything from identifying properties to analyzing properties, and much more.
Commercial real estate is any property that is used for business-related purposes.
The categories include office space, strip malls, restaurants, retail, health-care facilities, hotels and resorts, industrial structures, and multifamily properties.
James Flint, founding principal of Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates - Flint Brokers & Associates in Melbourne, is an expert in commercial real estate. He became interested in the field as an individual investor and decided to help others considering such investments. Flint owns and manages several investment properties in the multifamily residential, industrial, and commercial sectors.
Sperry Commercial is a national brokerage company with 8 offices in Florida. Each franchised office in the system is independently owned and operated.
Flint holds the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation, which is awarded to commercial real estate professionals upon successful completion of a graduate-level education curriculum and presentation of a portfolio of qualifying experience. The course work includes 160 hours.
CCIMs are recognized experts in commercial real estate brokerage, leasing, asset management, valuation, and investment analysis. Less than 10 percent of commercial real estate professionals are CCIMs, according to the National Association of Realtors. CCIM is a division of the NAR.
CCIMs complete a series of courses, provide evidence of their experience in the industry, and bring it all together in a final and comprehensive examination. The curriculum addresses financial analysis, market analysis, user–decision analysis, and investment analysis—the cornerstones of the commercial real estate industry.
Flint is the education chair for the Central District Board of Directors for CCIM Florida. "I enjoy being the education chair and look forward to bringing more opportunities to Brevard CCIMs."
The CCIM credential is widely recognized throughout the industry, he said. "The CCIM Institute is an educational association created to advance people in the field of commercial real estate."
"Early on in my career, I learned about the CCIM program and started pursuing the designation immediately."
"The CCIM designation is not only for brokers, the program also caters to attorneys, bankers, and appraisers, among other professionals tied to the commercial real estate industry. But the majority of members are professionals who are active in the commercial real estate business," added Flint.
He added, "Now we’re trying to better educate clients about what CCIM means as it pertains to commercial real estate. Basically, it’s a way to set yourself off in the commercial real estate market, clearly showing that the CCIM holder has expertise in the field."
"We put together pro forma profit and expense sheets and so much more for the client," said Flint. "It goes beyond just the top layer of analysis. For instance, we look at the tax ramifications of the deal. We check all the boxes to make sure it’s a viable investment. Many times, it may be a viable investment for one person, but not for the other party. We do a full evaluation."
Flint said he became interested in commercial real estate as an individual investor. He’s originally from the Minneapolis–St. Paul area.
"I started investing in commercial real estate when I lived in the Minneapolis area, and then moved to Florida in 2014. I realized I was good at sizing up commercial investment opportunities and wanted to help others who were considering such investments. Commercial real estate is a very interesting and dynamic field."
Flint owns and manages several investment properties, in the multifamily residential, industrial, and commercial sectors.
"James is one of the bright new stars in the CCIM Institute," said Kent Cooper, president, intermediary, and broker at Capstone Commercial of Brevard Inc. Cooper, a longtime entrepreneur and businessperson in a range of industries, has worked in the commercial real estate industry since 2001. "I earned my CCIM in 2006. This is a fascinating field, and having the CCIM credential behind you supports the knowledge base that you obtain."
The CCIM courses, taught by instructors who are themselves industry leaders, deliver commercial real estate investment methodologies and tools that speed the pathway between opportunity, a go/no–go decision, and success for an asset.
The credential represents proven expertise in financial, market, user, and investment analysis, as well as negotiations. CCIMs help clients: Minimize their risk Maximize the return on their investment Optimize the value of their real estate Make better-informed decisions. Develop a comprehensive commercial real estate strategy.
"Each class is designed to enhance the success of commercial real estate professionals, regardless of specialty," said Cooper.
Capstone Commercial, of which Cooper is the sole proprietor, provides various core services to his clients, such as high-end business brokerage, including mergers and acquisitions in the lower middle market, and commercial real estate brokerage. Cooper is also a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser in Florida and a Certified Valuation Analyst. He holds other credentials too.
Early in his career, in 1987, Cooper worked for Lehman Brothers in San Antonio, Texas, where he was an associate vice president and financial analyst. Not long after he came aboard there, "Black Monday," pummeled Wall Street.
On Monday, Oct. 17, 1987, stock markets around the world crashed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by slightly more than 22 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index suffered a similar decline of 20.4 percent.
"That was a really interesting time in my career. Actually, I was written up in ‘Money’ magazine in the October 1987 issue as one of the ‘Top 200 Brokers in America.’ I left the public markets in 1988, and became a chief financial officer for a publicly traded company at Kennedy Space Center," said Cooper, a Vietnam veteran who served with the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The company needed someone with a securities background and hired me," he said. "That’s when I fell in love with Brevard. I didn’t want to leave Central Florida." Cooper went on to start a number of businesses, including the Environmental Asset Recovery Group in Cocoa. The contractor firm did hazardous waste remediation engineering.
He was also the CEO and owner of Alpha Analytics Laboratories in Orlando. The full–service environmental laboratory did air, soil, and water analysis, as well as mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and high-pressure liquid chromatography. "I ran that business from 1993 to 2001 and then sold it," he said.
Additionally, Cooper served as the chief financial officer for Orlando Laboratories, an environmental lab. He turned that business around, repackaged it, and sold the venture to a growing concern.
"Through the years, I have met a lot of interesting people who owned businesses and ran businesses," said Cooper. "Today, commercial real estate is a perfect career fit for me. And I have sold many commercial properties over the last two decades in Brevard. It’s been exciting. I see myself doing this for years to come. Each deal is different."
Cooper is past president of the Central District CCIM Florida. He is also a past president of the Central Florida Commercial Association of Realtors. Cooper is currently a broker–at–large and a board member of the latter organization.
BBN photo — Adrienne B. Roth
"Commercial real estate is purely about numbers, purely about business," said Tim Harber, broker and president of Harber Real Estate—Commercial Investment Advisors in Rockledge.
Harber is one of about a dozen professionals in his industry in Brevard who hold the CCIM credential. He’s been a Brevard resident since 1977 and has held a Florida real estate license since 1987.
"My grandmother was a broker. She was with Evans Butler Realty in Melbourne many years ago. She is the one who got me interested in the commercial real estate business. She owned a sizable portfolio of rental properties," said Harber.
Commercial real estate is a great way to diversify an investment portfolio, giving an investor the potential to generate income and see the asset grow in value.
Harber started his career on the residential side of the industry. He introduced the Weichert Realtors brand in Brevard County some 20 years ago. He grew the operation to roughly 90 agents.
"Weichert also had a commercial arm, and that brought me into the side of the industry I greatly enjoy today. I am fully dedicated to the commercial market at Harber Real Estate—Commercial Investment Advisors."
Harber is the newest CCIM holder in Brevard. He said earning that credential was one of his career goals. Harber, who oversees his own portfolio of commercial properties, was awarded his CCIM in 2021.
"I could have tested in 2020, but the CCIM Institute halted testing during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Harber, adding, "Achieving my CCIM designation was a lifetime goal."
Harber was recently appointed to serve as a member-at-large for the CCIM Global Leadership Team. He will be serving on the Chapter Activities Subcommittee and the Marketing Committee for the 2023–2024 calendar year.
"I have a passion for getting involved and volunteering," he said. "Through these appointments, I hope to help other CCIMs, as well, and encourage others to take the course work and hopefully achieve their designations."
Since 1969, the Chicago-based CCIM Institute has conferred the CCIM designation to commercial real estate and allied professionals through an extensive curriculum. Currently, there are more than 9,000 CCIMs throughout the United States, Canada, and 30 additional countries.
An additional 7,000 practitioners are pursuing the designation, making the CCIM Institute one of the largest commercial real estate networks in the world.
"With Brevard County growing, we are looking to bring more real estate agents under the CCIM umbrella and have them pursue the credential," said Flint. "This designation is one of the most recognizable indicators of professional achievement in commercial real estate."