A Missoula-based real estate broker specializing in industrial properties became the first woman in Montana this month to receive a designation from the Society of Industrial and Officer Realtors – a rare class reserved for roughly 1% of all agents.

Claire Matten with Sterling Commercial Real Estate of Missoula isn't only the first woman to receive the designation, but is now just one of six such designees in the state.

“If I can do something to distinguish women among commercial real estate, which has been predominantly male oriented, I think that's an exciting opportunity for me,” Matten said. “Why not use all the skills you've learned over the years and continue to learn and grow? It's so important in this industry where there's so many people getting into the business.”

Globally, fewer than 3,500 agents are endorsed as SIOR experts. Those who receive the endorsement must have demonstrated a history of sales success and specialization in a certain real estate class.

They also must complete advanced coursework, which Matten did this month. SIOR designees are also held to higher standards of trust and ethics, which in turn brings more business to the community in which they represent.

“Montana is sitting on the forefront of so much change and development, and it's now being perceived differently in other markets,” Matten said. “Being able to step up and represent Montana in terms of education and production levels will help us as we see more economic growth.”

Matten grew up in Southern California before landing in Missoula on a volleyball scholarship at the University of Montana. After graduating in 2004, she took a job at a large commercial real estate firm in Phoenix.

Her knowledge of the local market, aided by her various industry endorsements helps clients minimize risk and make informed decisions, removing speculation with hard data.

For Missoula and several other Montana cities, that could be good for economic growth, including the industrial “last mile,” she said.

“Having someone to specialize in that asset class is important,” she said. “It's hard for these companies to relocate here and bring jobs to these communities. Having this designation as a specialist to accommodate those requirements will help the state put people in the right places and bring job growth to the community.”

Sterling CRE in Missoula now has two SIOR designees, including Matt Mellott who specializes in commercial office properties.