In the fast-paced world of non-conventional lending, Val-Chris Investments stands out as a beacon of excellence and innovation. With over 45 years of experience in the real estate lending industry, Val-Chris has consistently adapted to market shifts, employed innovative approaches, and prioritized a client-centric ethos to create lasting value for borrowers.
To better understand how Val-Chris Investments navigates a complex regulatory environment and stays on top of trends in the marketplace, Originate Report sat down with Vice President Jeff LaMotte, who has been with the company since 2009.
A key element that contributes to Val-Chris Investments’ success, Jeff said, is the close-knit dynamic in place at the firm. Jeff added that the mentoring he received – and continues to draw upon – from President Chris Boulter has been instrumental in his career.
“I think there is a lot to be said for a family-run business atmosphere,” LaMotte said. “What I have found is that working closely with a core group of people allows for a level of trust that is unparalleled in the industry. We are constantly dealing with complicated situations, and I think a hands-on, collaborative approach leads to the best outcomes for borrowers and the industry.”
Part and parcel to this collaborative approach, Jeff added, is the importance of keeping a keen eye on the regulatory environment of lending. Laws at the local and state levels often change without fanfare and can have a lasting impact on investors.
“Understanding who our investors are – and how regulatory changes can impact them – is at the core of what we do. Because we do not run a fund, and our customers are individual investors, we strive to leverage our knowledge and create deals on a personalized basis. There is no such thing to us as a ‘cookie-cutter deal.’ Our relationships with groups including Geraci allow us to maintain a holistic view of the lending landscape,” he said.
But maintaining a holistic view of the market, he admitted, can be difficult when faced with market downturns or a pandemic. Despite these potential negative situations, Jeff said there are lessons to be learned when ‘elements of the market are scrambling.’
“We learned a number of lessons from COVID-19,” LaMotte said. “Our volume drastically increased because we doubled down and became intimate with our investors’ needs. We found deals with higher yields and lower loan to values, all of which accelerated our growth. In addition to focusing on creating more lasting value for our customers, we also embraced the idea of remote work, which has yet to be seen across the lending field. If someone makes the decision to move somewhere new with their family, we do not want that to stand in the way of acquiring and keeping new talent.”
The mindset of embracing the changing nature of business and workflow speaks to the intertwined nature of championing the staff and investors, Jeff said. This attention to detail – and care – is a core component of the Val-Chris ethos.
“No matter what business you are in, customer service is a key component for growth and success, period. Because so many private lenders are smaller shops, this attention to customer service must be amplified. What I stress to newer people in the field, though, is that you never want to run a business so lean that your customers feel as though you are too busy for them. Especially in lending, where there is trust associated with capital changing hands, you want to showcase that you are a good custodian of those funds. We have been embodying that mindset at Val-Chris since the beginning,” he said.
In a post-COVID world, Jeff said the continued leveraging of technology – while not overlooking the human element of lending – will yield substantial growth for Val-Chris.
“One of the many lessons we have learned in the past few years is the value of maintaining an agile staff,” he said. “This includes embracing remote work and using the tools at our disposal, like Lightning Docs from Geraci, to integrate our boots-on-the-ground operation with remote employees and stakeholders across the country. Being cloud-based allows us to pull documents and important elements no matter where we are.”
With this ability, though, may come a sense of trepidation. The first quarter of 2023 was marked by uncertainty in the lending space, but Jeff reiterated that the field – and Val-Chris’ resolve – has never been stronger.
“Our extensive experience in the lending field allows us to draw on decades of experience, including what has worked and what hasn’t,” he said. “Every time we begin the loan process, we are harnessing our collective experience and relationship with the investor. Outside of this, we also keep in close contact with what many would consider our competition. This may sound like a cliché, but being on the same page as others lets us move forward collectively.”
Moving forward, Jeff is excited to be part of Val-Chris’ continued growth. As the conversation surrounding private money lending evolves, he said, the group’s track record speaks for itself.
“What we are seeing now is increased interest in non-conventional products like using self-directed IRAs to purchase trust deeds with us,” he said. “These trends, and the curious nature of our investors, allows us to create creative solutions and positive gains across the board. It is an exciting time to be in lending.”
To learn more about the services offered by Val-Chris Investments, visit https://www.val-chris.com/