Broker teaches real estate basics from Mexico City to Moscow

Knowledge is power and Walt Clements is helping students in both developed and emerging countries become better equipped to handle the complexities of real estate development. A vice president and principal in Colliers Turley Martin Tucker’s Kansas City office, Clements travels the world to teach courses on real estate decision-making.

In addition to his "day job" where he helps corporations analyze their real estate needs and options, Clements is a senior instructor for the Commercial Investment Real Estate (CCIM) Institute. The institute is the real estate industry’s equivalent to the CPA designation awarded to accountants. CCIM offers an extensive curriculum and requires hands-on experience before awarding its designation to commercial real estate practitioners. Only 7,000 of the nation’s approximately 125,000 commercial real estate practitioners currently hold the prestigious designation.

Clements is one of those 7,000. A 31-year veteran in the commercial real estate business, he also is one of only 15 instructors qualified to teach advanced courses.

His ability to transfer knowledge recently earned him an award at the CCIM Instructor Workshop held in Montebello, Canada. Based on student ratings, Clements was honored for his work in teaching "Advanced User Decision Analysis for Real Estate." The five-day advanced course provides the tools necessary to analyze and determine the best options for businesses, including leasing vs. owning, and building vs. buying.

Clements has reached real estate professionals and students throughout the United States and the world, including Beijing, Moscow and Mexico City. He’ll head to Warsaw in September to better prepare real estate professionals in Poland as well.

In Beijing, Clements taught the advanced course to 85 students, most of them developers, at the International School of Business and Economics. He also reached 25 students who took an introductory course. In Moscow, his courses are helping 20 Russian real estate professionals prepare for the CCIM designation.

"We provide the best practices, knowledge, ethics and professionalism necessary to understand and build strong real estate markets," Clements said. "This is especially important in emerging countries such as China and Russia where free markets are just beginning to play a role in real estate development and investment."

China just joined the World Trade Organization so the country must meet more rigid standards, he noted. The country has enormous real estate needs since it has several cities such as Beijing that are much bigger than New York City.

"While there isn’t a lot of money for development, outside investors are pouring capital into real estate, especially apartment developments to house China’s immense population. One of my students had a letter of commitment from an Arab sheik for $6.1 billion," he said.

Despite advances in Russia’s free market economy, there’s still a level of mistrust, Clements said. For example, the country still hasn’t established title insurance to ensure property is rightly owned and developed. As an example, Clements noted that the Mormon Church tried to buy land in St. Petersburg but later found out that the land could not be used for their intended purposes.

"The CCIM advances a code of conduct to ensure that real estate practitioners protect the interest of their clients," he noted.

Language barriers are an added challenge in teaching foreign students, Clements said. He works with interpreters. "But that challenge is more than offset by the willingness of the students to learn. They are eager and attentive. They understand the importance of becoming more knowledgeable so they can help their clients and their countries."

Clements practices what he preaches and teaches. He will complete his masters degree in Real Estate and Construction Management in mid-August.

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