Q: How has your outlook of the private lending industry changed in light of the new normal?
A: This looks a lot like 4-5 years ago, before aggregators got into the hard money space and dropped the rates. Now, private lenders are doing what private lenders do and have offered reasonable guidelines for savvy investors. I think it is very healthy for the market and for the industry. 90% LTV loans were not really good for us.
Q: What are you doing differently today to move your company forward than you were 6 months ago?
A: Narrowed down our geographical area. We are only concentrating on primary markets in California; sometimes secondary, if near Los Angeles or Orange Counties.
Dropped LTV’s, especially for Cash Out transactions.
Increased borrowers’ and referral brokers’ qualifications. We are now looking for the absolutely highest quality of referral sources and borrowers. We started dropping brokers that send us deals – guys that waste time, don’t really understand the industry, and have been misrepresenting values.
It’s all about location, location, location, and quality, quality, quality.
Q: How has your company evolved since its inception? (ie: new products, new divisions, grown, merged, etc?)
A: We have stayed about the same but started thinking about opening a new higher-risk, higher- yield fund. We are testing the water now with this product.
What will be its focus? Stay tuned. Mostly 2nd TD’s and equity participation.
Q: What has been the highlight so far in your career?
A: The highlight would be when I started this business with Alex and Vladimir in 2003. The first year was brutal. I was 25-years-old coming from a very lucrative, mostly 9-5 job, at a Real Estate Development company.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: For business: Start with the CRM and contact management system. Create as much structure from day 1.
Overall: My younger self would not understand or trust my older self so it would be useless!
Q: What piece of advice did you personally receive early in your career that has helped shaped decisions you’ve made?
A: First, I was taught about the 80/20 Rule. Secondly, I learned that loyalty is not a given when borrower becomes your client. You constantly have to earn it.
Q: Tell us about a person or organization you admire. How have they made an important impact on you, the industry, or the world?
A: The California Mortgage Association (CMA) has made a lasting impact on me, my business, and the industry as a whole. They really propelled my entire team’s education. They are a very tightknit group of people who have made a tremendous impact on me personally – interactions, friendships, training, and an excuse to leave home for 3 days and go to Vegas! They represent the industry in California, and everyone knows that members of CMA are held to higher standards.
Q: How have you turned a career mistake or failure into success in your career?
A: Anyone that’s been in the Hard Money industry for longer than few years knows that you learn every day. Mistakes happen, lessons are learned, and we move forward. Mistakes are part of success. Today, I hire better people, I am a better manager, and a more pleasant boss.
Q: What do you predict for the future in private lending throughout the end of this year and beyond?
A: I see tighter guidelines and not a lot of institutional activity in the near future. Eventually, towards next year, I see institutional money and aggregators coming back and the secondary market being almost as strong as it was pre-COVID. Overall, I am very bullish on the California Real Estate market for at least next 3 years, maybe excluding the retail sector.
Q: If you had a clean slate to start over and do anything you wanted to do, what would that be?
A: I would have liked to travel the same roads for experience. I really like what I do. I would, however, start fund a lot sooner and would put a lot more emphasis on raising capital initially.
Q: How do you want to be remembered? What have you done to cultivate that feeling from others?
A: I want to be remembered for what I did, for who I helped, and for my shining personality. That is when I die.