Reaching out to the commercial marketEric C. Peckcommercial mortgage brokering, lending, Commercial Real Estate Task Force, NAMB With the current downturn in the residential mortgage marketplace, many brokers across the country are turning to other previously untapped sources of business for income. One of these sources for the residential mortgage sector of the industry is the field of commercial mortgage brokering and lending. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) is smoothing this transition for many with the formation of its Commercial Real Estate Task Force, led by Charles Eck, CMC. Mr. Eck, an NAMB Past President (1994-1995), has an extensive background in commercial real estate as well as prior experience in the Savings and Loan markets. The primary purpose of the Commercial Real Estate Task Force is to bring commercial lenders and brokers together, in addition to facilitating the education and training of new and residential brokers in commercial real estate lending. "There are many residential Mortgage Brokers who want to become involved in commercial real estate, and there are many commercial real estate brokers who want to learn more about sources of funds," explains Mr. Eck. "There are also other types of referral sources that develop the networking that works well for brokers." "The commercial mortgage market is cyclical, and there are many residential Mortgage Brokers who have previous commercial experience," notes Mr. Eck. "When the commercial cycle bottomed out in the mid to late 1980's, many commercial real estate professionals looked to residential real estate as a means to support their livelihood. These brokers are going to take great interest in our commercial programs, particularly because they have the opportunity to re- acquaint themselves with the technology and protocols of today, as opposed to 10 years ago." In bridging this commercial-residential gap, NAMB is both creating new educational opportunities as well as enhancing programs already in existence. The Commercial Task Force has already developed a two-pronged educational program designed to educate residential Mortgage Brokers and introduce them to the commercial process. "We've developed what we call Course One, which is the transition from residential Mortgage Broker to commercial Mortgage Broker," describes Mr. Eck. "At our October Commercial Mortgage Symposium, we received a $50,000 sponsorship to our Educational Foundation (NAMBEF) from Alliance Funding for the development of Course Two." NAMBEF plans to unveil Course Two, in addition to offering a repeat of Course One, at the NAMB Annual Convention to be held in New Orleans on Saturday-Wednesday, June 24-28. "Course One basically serves as a primer to the commercial real estate field, and Course Two is for those who have already taken Course One and want some specific information and analysis of property types," says Mr. Eck. "Course One has been extremely well-received, and we have had some people come back and take the course a second time because there is so much information provided and they need another course to absorb it all." In addition to Course One and Course Two, NAMBEF will soon announce a series of Breakout Sessions at the Annual Convention geared toward more experienced commercial real estate individuals. Over the past three years, NAMB has developed its Annual Commercial Symposium and the popularity of the event is quickly rising. On the extremely successful heels of the 1998 Commercial Symposium in Atlanta and the 1999 Commercial Symposium in Philadelphia, NAMB has planned two Commercial Symposiums for 2000. The first will take place Tuesday- Friday, April 25-28 on the West Coast in San Diego, and the second is set for Tuesday-Friday, October 17-20 in Nashville. "We like to have an East Coast/West Coast balance on this," notes Mr. Eck. "We want it so lenders and brokers can get there as easily and inexpensively as possible, which also allows us to give brokers exposure to as many lenders as they want." As the demand for commercial sessions grows, there is also a serious need for volunteers to assist in the implementation of these educational sessions. The current NAMB Commercial Real Estate Education Sub-Committee includes Chair Anthony M. Gramza, Bud Abbott as Conference Convention Chair, Terry Morrow, CMC, serving on the Finance Committee of Review, Jay Cox on the Membership and Services Committee, Kevin Clark as Liaison for the Convention Committee, and Kirk Amerson as Committee Coordinator. "The Committee is comprised of highly respected people who have great experience in the commercial real estate industry," states Mr. Eck. "However, we would actually like to have more people participate on a regular basis in a Commercial Real Estate Sub-Committee." Anyone interested in volunteering their time to the Commercial Real Estate Task Force can contact Charlie Eck by phone at (847) 517-8444, by fax at (847) 517-8450, or contact NAMB's Fax-on-Demand at (703) 610-9009.