Q&A: How I Built a Real Estate Credit Bussiness

I am in my late twenties and founded a commercial real estate mortgage brokerage when I was just 19, starting out in my dorm room. It's been almost a decade since then, during which I've successfully closed capital placements in the hundreds of millions. I'm proud to have real estate private equity (REPE) firms among my clients with hundreds of millions more in the pipeline. Furthermore, I've recently ventured into direct investing, closing my first distressed debt deal on the principal side with an institutional partner just last week. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have!


Really cool story.  Congratulations to you and all your success!  

1) How did you find your first few deals?  I'd imagine mostly cold calling/emailing, but curious if you had any other strategies that you found particularly useful.

2) What attracted you to the credit side of the business?  Feel like most people aim for REPE/development.  I know your path was non-linear with you starting so young, but is there something specific about it that you prefer?

3) What do your fees usually look like (if you feel comfortable answering, obviously)?

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1)My very first successful deal happened during college. At the time, I was interning for a commercial real estate sales brokerage. A classmate and their family were acquiring a property that lacked immediate cash flow, less than $5 million.  I received a marketing email from a new fund that advertised that they could provide a bridge loan for this situation. They offered the most competitive quote, and I managed to outcompete other brokers to close the deal. I must admit, I was pretty fortunate for that deal, nothing is that easy. Even today, I use cold emails as an initial approach, typically offering value other than advisory services. Afterward, we get on a call and usually have mutual relationships, which helps turn these contacts into clients.

2)Credit has been an exciting journey for me, inspired by my first successful deal. I started with relatively small transactions and progressively moved up to handling upper-middle market transactions within my first three years in the industry. My primary focus is working with opportunistic credit groups, aiming for returns in the high teens to mid-twenties, net to their B-piece. These groups offer equity-like returns and will significantly reduce day-to-day management responsibilities which allows them to scale really quickly. The core of our business revolves around executing transactions efficiently and  now as a sponsor I hope to do the same and scale.

2.1) A prominent head of a credit fund once shared with me: For a developer to turn a profit, everything must go perfectly, whereas, for us, it takes everything going wrong not to achieve our expected returns. I think this perfectly characterized what has attracted me to the debt side.

3) I'm sorry, but I'm not comfortable sharing that.


No, it’s mostly an advisory business. The deal we just closed was friends and family with an institutional fund partner that came in with the majority of the capital. While many bridge construction and NPL deals are done through funds there are a lot of firms who syndicate their loans like us.  Likewise many of our clients some with as close to $1 billion AUM syndicate their loans 


How did you get the capital to start your first deal? Not in RE but always been interested in starting some sort of lending business to companies. Also, how much capital did you use for that deal if you don't mind me asking? Appreciate posts like this on WSO, cheers


Most of the money came from an institutional partner. They have control rights and then I raised the rest from friends and family with some of my own capital in there as well. Even though I could have written the whole  non institution check myself it makes the most sense to put as little in as possible. I eventually want to raise a fund and want as many potential partners and investors as possible. I had some one who didn’t end up investing because of  timing looking to write a $10k check. Now they have some of their extend family looking to invest millions spread across a few deals. 


Thanks for the very interesting ama. A few questions: 

1) I work in lending in a separate industry targeting similar returns, what I see is that most “one man shop” debt advisors have 20+ years of relevant experience (BB, developers). While I see more junior people, these usually cover junior positions within a 10-15 people advisory shop. Is this dynamic similar in the CRE industry with you being an exception? 
2) Tied to the above, what would you say are your main selling points (competitive advantages) against other advisors? Eg. Do you have a strong specialisation in a particular asset class/geography, is it mostly driven by contacts made and street cred. Etc.

3) Curious about how your typical work week looks like. Do you spend much time out visiting sites or wining and dining contacts? How much time do you spend reading legal docs and building models?



1)I began as a one-person operation and expanded the team to ten members before scaling it back to five as part of a cost optimization strategy. I realized that having too many people onboard often led to inefficiencies and reduced my ability to focus on deals. My goal is to manage billions with fewer than ten full-time employees. Everyone's journey in real estate  is unique. Closing a $2 million deal for a local investor is vastly different from winning a billion-dollar assignment from a firm like Eastdil.You dont need much experince for the former but you  need decades of experince and alot of strong relationships for the latter. There are numerous approaches to building a profitable real estate  business.


What advice would you give to other 19-year-olds after learning what you've learned?

After reading your post, I feel interpersonal skills are a big part of your job where you have to build and manage relationships. What advice would you give for building relationships with clients? I feel when building business relationships with other people, there is a balance between being friendly and being professional; how do you tackle this? Has it ever been an issue where a boundary/ has been crossed and how did you/would you deal with it?

If you don't mind sharing, what is your strategy in a cold email and how has it changed over the years - I believe your strategy must have changed over the years as when you were 19, your experience in the industry was very limited and now you have a lot of experience to back yourself up



Very interesting. I’ve always wondered how people build real estate credit platforms. Props to you on your entrepreneurial journey so far.

Maybe it’s been asked already but I was wondering, how does one get started with this type of business, even if starting small, wouldn’t it require a lot of capital to make loans to RE projects? How’d you go about putting together the initial capital? Then after you lend it out, isn’t the loan with the borrower for a number of years paying a relatively low yield compared to equity deals?

Additionally how did you compete and stand out from local banks, fintechs and other lending platforms?


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