The smartest decision of my career was when I struck an agreement in 2013 to lead a small but hungry group of mortgage bankers throughout Florida for Berkadia, a relatively young commercial real estate finance firm, and certainly the underdog among the well-established heavyweights. The market was just beginning to claw its way back from the depths of the Great Financial Crisis, so the challenge of putting Berkadia on the map as the top provider of capital to commercial real estate investors in the Florida region couldn’t have been more exciting to me.
It was clear to me then that Berkadia’s value proposition – a focus on multifamily before it was in vogue, and deep relationships with GSE lenders – was compelling. In addition, the corporate culture and strong commitment to excellence in client service (influenced by its unique ownership, as a joint venture of Berkshire Hathaway and Jefferies Financial Group) resonated with me on a personal level.
Fast forward to today, and I am both humbled and gratified to be a part of Berkadia’s growth. Our South Florida mortgage bankers went from closing $200 million in loan originations when I joined in 2013 to more than $11 billion over the last two years, putting us at number one on the ranking of top commercial mortgage brokers in South Florida for the second time in three years.
How did we get here, I was recently asked. First, we were fortunate to start our team with Brad Williamson and Matt Robbins, who have since grown into senior roles. Also, we were strategic in adding more industry-leading capital markets professionals, including Scott Wadler, Michael Weinberg, and Charles Foschini, to serve clients in key markets like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando.
The launch of our investment sales division also helped us expand. We hired Jaret Turkell and Roberto Pesant in South Florida, Matt Mitchell in Tampa, and Brett Moss in Orlando – seasoned investment sales players who have collectively advised on some of the most high-profile land and multifamily transactions in the state over the past several years. Our ability to collaborate internally and synthesize best practices has been instrumental in exceeding client expectations and catapulting us to the forefront of the Florida commercial real estate industry.
We’ve been fortunate to have the wind at our backs, of course. The multifamily sector has enjoyed a remarkable run. While the investment landscape will be different moving forward due to the higher cost of capital, multifamily fundamentals in Florida are among the strongest in the nation, and Berkadia is uniquely positioned, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s chief partner, to be the predominant source of capital to investors. Our seasoned experts also understand how to provide value to clients, especially in down cycles.
As we celebrate a decade in business in Florida, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for our clients, lender partners, colleagues and leadership at Berkadia, and for our good fortune to be doing business in this state. Despite the current market challenges and economic climate, I am as confident as ever in our ability to deliver exceptional results for our clients – and continue to expand our market share throughout Florida and beyond.