Top 20 Commercial Mortgage Brokers Under 35

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The future of commercial real estate debt and equity is safe with this, the second class of Mortgage Observer’s rising stars. This year, we opened the nominations up to include professionals from coast to coast, and the results represent just that, with some new California and New Jersey faces joining some more familiar to the New York tristate region. All excel at closing an impressive number of deals in a broad spectrum of areas.

Gregg Applefield, 31, Director of the Debt and Equity Finance Group at Mission Capital Advisors

Gregg Applefield, who joined the Debt and Equity Finance Group at Mission Capital Advisors this June, is tasked with sourcing, underwriting, and structuring commercial real estate transactions for major owners, investors and developers around the country. Prior to joining Mission Capital, Mr. Applefield served as vice president at Eastdil Secured, which he joined in 2005. In 2012 he closed a total of 30 deals totaling $3.86 billion. Since 2010 he has arranged more than $8 billion dollars of closed debt, mezzanine, loan sale and UCC public sale transactions. Mr. Applefield holds a bachelor’s degree in real estate and finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tal Bar-Or, 33, Managing Director at Meridian Capital Group

Tal Bar-Or, who joined Meridian Capital Group in 2011, is tasked with developing and servicing institutional client relationships. From the beginning of 2012 to the end of the third quarter in 2013, Mr. Bar-Or has arranged over $781 million in financing. Over the course of his career, he has secured over $3.4 billion in real estate transactions for multifamily, office, retail, industrial, hospitality and other property types throughout the U.S. The Meridian broker’s most recent closings include a $150 million mortgage for 11 manufactured housing communities in Michigan and Alabama as well as a $70 million mortgage for a 17-story office property at 405 Park Avenue. Prior to joining Meridian Mr. Bar-Or was a vice president in the CMBS and Real Estate Finance Group of Citigroup Global Markets. Mr. Bar-Or holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and international business and a master’s degree in real estate finance from New York University.

Justin Boruchov, 30, Director, Massey Knakal Capital Services

Since joining Massey Knakal last year, Mr. Boruchov has closed more than $100 million in commercial loans. Though his focus is Manhattan’s Upper West Side, soon after arriving at Massey Knakal, Mr. Boruchov closed a $13.2 million loan on a student housing building in Radford, Va.

Other recent transactions include the arranging of a $49.5 million fixed-rate loan from New York Community Bank on a co-op apartment building at 3013 East 63rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Prior to joining Massey Knakal Mr. Boruchov was a vice president at Guardhill Financial Corp., where he became the youngest person to be promoted to vice president in the company’s 25-year history.

Andrew Dansker, 29, Associate Director at Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation

Andrew Dansker, who joined Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation’s Manhattan office as an associate director this March, is responsible for sourcing, underwriting and obtaining financing for all asset classes of commercial real estate nationwide with a specific emphasis on multifamily properties. Mr. Dansker this year closed a $4.2 million loan for a 55,000-square-foot office property in Smithtown, New York. He has also secured financing for other properties in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Connecticut. Prior to joining MMCC, he worked at Cooper-Horowitz Inc. in Manhattan and as at Matrix Realty Group in Smithtown as a managing director. Mr. Dansker holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a Juris doctor degree from New York University School of Law.

Isaac Filler, 27, Vice President, Meridian Capital Group

From the start of last year to this point in 2013, Mr. Filler has placed 133 loans totaling in excess of $500 million, making him, at just 27, one of the most successful mortgage brokers in his age group at the firm.

He joined Meridian in 2005 for a summer job and by 22 had closed a $100 million loan for a 25-property Beverly Hills, Calif. multifamily property.

Since then he has kept up that momentum—no small task.

His recent closings include $25 million for a four-property multifamily portfolio spread across Brooklyn and Queens, $12.5 million for two multifamily properties with retail space on First Avenue in Manhattan and $11.4 million for a 119-unit Bay Ridge multifamily property.

Seth Grossman, 33, Managing Director, Meridian Capital Group

Mr. Grossman opened Meridian Capital Group’s San Diego office in May 2011 and heads the firm’s expansion throughout the western and southwestern United States.

Since 2012, he has closed over 60 loans with 20 different lenders and this year alone, Mr. Grossman has closed more than $470 million in transactions. These have been for a diverse mix of property types, including multifamily, age-restricted housing, multifamily, retail and mixed use.

His most recent transactions include a total of $90 million for a portfolio of five Orange County, Calif. multifamily properties. The loans were forward rate locked well in advance of closing with rates between 4.56 percent and 4.69 percent.

Jack Howard, 34, Vice President, CBRE Capital Markets’ National Loan Sale Advisory Group

In real estate for the past 11 years, Mr. Howard has narrowed his focus to loan sales for the past 8 with impressive results. Over the course of his career he has lent his sales and advisory expertise to the execution of more than $13 billion in secondary market loan sales transactions.

The size of the loan sales he works on run the gamut—from less than $5 million to single assets valued at more than $500 million.

Mr. Howard has been a senior member of his group focusing on loan sales since 2005.

Recent significant assignments include the June 2013 closing of a portfolio transaction that included the $1.2 billion sale of commercial mortgage loans and other commercial real estate assets.

Nate Hyman, 27, Senior Managing Director, Eastern Union Funding

At just 27-years-old, Mr. Hyman ranks in the top three of Eastern Union’s top producers. In the last year alone, he has closed in excess of 70 transactions, totaling over $300 million, focusing on the northeast.

Around the firm, Mr. Hyman has earned a reputation for reviving deals that seemed all but dead in the water. A prime example would be the 54-unit luxury apartment building on Bayard Street on Brooklyn’s McCarren Park that languished for three years before Mr. Hyman closed a $21 million construction loan to get it up and running again.

Ayush Kapahi, 30, Partner and Co-Founder, HKS Capital Partners

Ayush Kapahi, who co-founded HKS Capital Partners in 2011 alongside Jerry Swartz and John Harrington, is known by colleagues and clients alike for putting in 14-hour workdays and frequent weekends to stay on top of his competitors. From the beginning of 2012 to the end of the third quarter in 2013, Mr. Kapahi has secured $2.16 billion in loans for new developments, acquisitions and refinancing deals in New York as well as other states and U.S. Caribbean territories. The HKS broker’s most recent closings include a $34 million loan for Simon Development Group’s 11 East 31st Street, which closed in August, and a $23 million loan for Sam Nazarian’s boutique hotel development at 444 Park Avenue South, which closed in July. Mr. Kapahi and his co-partners have secured $5.38 billion in financing since launching their business.

Jared Kelso, 33, Managing Director of the Global Hospitality Group at Cushman & Wakefield

Jared Kelso, who joined Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Hospitality Group in 2006, has spent the majority of his professional career overseeing the arrangement of debt and equity for hotel owners. This year Mr. Kelso and the global hospitality team have arranged several hotel financings including advising Great Eagle Holdings in the arrangement of a $125 million acquisition loan for the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan and Hersha Hospitality Trust in the arrangement of a $55 million acquisition loan for the Hyatt Union Square Hotel in Manhattan. The team also arranged $33.3 million in non-recourse financing secured by the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Boston in Bedford Glen and the Embassy Suites Chicago in North Shore/Deerfield. Mr. Kelso holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

Josh Malka, 32, Director, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Loan Sale Advisory Group

Mr. Malka has been involved, since 2009, in transacting more than $2 billion in loan sales transactions. This year alone, he’s on track to complete nearly 30 transactions totaling $250 million in sales.

Formerly with Helios Capital Advisors—the firm merged with NGKF in October 2012—Mr. Malka has an expanded geographic reach and the backing of NGKF’s national reach. He primarily covers the northeast but gets involved in deals throughout the country.

Some of Mr. Malka’s recent deals have been completed in Nevada, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, including the off-market sale of a $35 million loan pool he sold at the end of the third quarter of 2013 in Maryland and Virginia.

Christopher Marks, 32, Associate Director at Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation

Christopher Marks, who joined Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation as an associate director in the firm’s Manhattan office in 2010, is responsible for securing commercial debt financing across multiple property types. He has more than seven years of commercial real estate finance experience with ties to national, regional and local funding sources including agency lenders, commercial banks, CMBS lenders, life insurance companies, private and public funds and bridge lenders. Mr. Marks has financed more than 200 commercial real estate deals in the U.S., including a $14 million loan for a mixed-use property at 51 Irving Place in Manhattan, which closed this April, and a $9.5 million loan for a property in Ocala, Florida, which closed this June. Prior to joining MMCC, Mr. Marks served as a senior loan officer with Velocity Commercial Capital. He also worked as a loan analyst and sales manager at Capital One Financial. Mr. Marks holds no formal degree.

Michael Muller, 32, Senior Managing Director, Eastern Union Funding

Mr. Muller, Eastern’s top broker for five years running, has arranged more than $2.5 billion in transactions during his ten-year career. These have been across all property types, with a focus on the northeast region. In 2012 alone, Mr. Muller closed 150 transactions.

Among his recent transactions are $7.3 million arranged for 1406 Townsend Avenue from Signature Bank and $7.8 million for 1405 Walton Avenue also from Signature Bank—all located in the Bronx.

Justin Piasecki, 32, Principal, Avison Young’s Capital Markets Group

At 32 years-old, Mr. Piasecki has completed roughly $3.5 billion in loan sales and debt and equity capital raises. Of this amount, about $500 million was completed since joining Avison Young in May 2012.

Before joining Avison Young, he was a senior vice president at The Carlton Group, and that firm’s top producer.

His areas of expertise include originating loan packages for sale and placement, raising debt and equity and investment sales and his roster of clients includes Nomura, CitiBank, Capital One Bank and Waterfall Asset Management.

This past summer Mr. Piasecki helped to sell $18 million in non-performing loans on behalf of CarVal Investors—identifying over 500 potential investors before the loans ultimately sold to 43 different buyers. His pipeline of assignments includes securing a $200 million line of credit for a California-based opportunity fund and sourcing a $20 million construction loan for a West Hartford, C.T.-based boutique hotel.

Nils Ratnathicam, 31, President of The Rincon Group

Nils Ratnathicam, who founded the independent real estate banking firm The Rincon Group in San Francisco in the beginning of the year, began his career as a mortgage broker in late 2007. He has since arranged over $425 million in commercial real estate loans. Mr. Ratnathicam, the firm’s president, has secured financing for over 325 real estate transactions throughout California, Washington, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois. He has closed $110 million in financing in 2013 to date with another $40 million slated to close before the year’s end. Mr. Ratnathicam, a published author in the San Francisco Apartment Magazine and a member of several local real estate organizations, holds a bachelor’s degree in real estate finance from the University of Southern California.

Jordan Ray, 34, Managing Director of the Debt and Equity Finance Group at Mission Capital Advisors

Jordan Ray, who joined Mission Capital Advisors in 2009, manages a team of 11 people in addition to all of the its origination business as co-head of Mission Capital Advisors’ Debt and Equity Finance Group. He is also responsible for the division’s overall growth while raising awareness of Mission Capital among industry leaders. Mr. Ray has closed approximately $6 billion of debt and joint venture equity transactions throughout his career, including $600 million for the Trump Beachwalk Project in Waikiki, and has played a direct role in building Mission Capital’s finance desk from virtually $0 capital to $2 billion since joining the firm. Mr. Ray, who holds a masters degree in real estate finance and investment from New York University, is a member of the New York Private Equity Network, the Urban Land Institute and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Jordan Roeschlaub, 30, Director, Chesterfield Faring

So far in 2013 alone, Mr. Roeschlaub—who joined Chesterfield Faring in 2009—has completed $300 million in transactions with an additional $180 million expected to close by year-end. Over the course of his career, his deal volume has exceeded $2 billion.

Though his focus is nationwide, he has completed some noteworthy transactions here in his backyard as well. These include arranging a total of $17 million in equity and debt for one of the Blackhouse Development condo projects on West 29th Street abutting the High Line. Mr. Roeschlaub’s current pipeline of deals includes securing $33 million in permanent financing for the Hotel Americano, at 518 West 27th Street in Chelsea—also a Blackhouse Development project.

Outside the New York region he is currently working on securing financing for a portfolio of limited service hotels in Wyoming and Colorado.

Mr. Roeschlaub joined Chesterfield Faring in 2009.

Dustin Stolly, 34, Executive Vice President in the U.S. Real Estate Investment Banking Group at Jones Lang LaSalle

Dustin Stolly, who joined Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008, has over ten years experience in the commercial real estate business and has executed on more than $18 billion of capital markets transactions. Mr. Stolly is currently working on $1.3 billion of debt placement assignments, including two luxury condo construction projects in Manhattan totaling more than $600 million, a $200 million acquisition loan for 15 hotels and a $200 million office building financing in Philadelphia. The Jones Lang LaSalle broker recently closed a $100 million land loan for developer Ian Bruce Eichner secured by a development site located just south of Madison Square Park. Prior to joining Jones Lang LaSalle, he was an originator at both UBS Investment Bank and Eurohypo. Mr. Stolly holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and entrepreneurship from the University of Cincinnati.

Michael Volpe, 35, Senior Associate at Pergolis Swartz Associates

Michael Volpe, who joined Pergolis Swartz Associates in 2005, has been in the real estate industry for over 10 years building long-term relationships with clients and lending institutions. Mr. Volpe, who generally works on securing loans in the $2 million to $20 million-dollar-range across all commercial real estate asset types, is currently engaged in several construction deals in New York. He has brokered over $175 million in transactions in the last three to four years. Mr. Volpe, who takes on several roles at Pergolis, holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in real estate finance from New York University.

Max Herzog (Pictured), 33, and Aaron Appel, 32, Managing Directors, Meridian Capital Group

It’s hard to parse out these two—co-heads of a finance team at Meridian Capital Group and among the firm’s top producers. Both joined in early 2011 and work to develop and manage client and lender relationships.

So far in 2013 alone, Mr. Appel has closed $1.25 billion in financing and Mr. Herzog $876 million.

Recent highlights are lengthy for the duo, but include $230 million in financing for JDS Development’s purchase of Steinway Hall and an adjacent parcel of land, and $128 million arranged for the acquisition of a development site and two balance sheet loans totaling $110 million for two New York City hotels.

Together, Messrs. Herzog and Appel manage a team that includes Senior Vice President Keith Kurland, Vice President Michael Diaz and Vice President Jonathan Schwartz.

Meridian University

A list of top, young commercial mortgage brokers begs the question—Where does this new talent come from and who’s taking the reigns cultivating it when established firm dealmakers are so busy, well, making deals?

At Meridian Capital Group, new recruits are brought up to speed during a 7-week training program known as “Meridian University.” Brian Flax—who was brought on board roughly two years ago to handle the recruiting, hiring, training, development and management of junior, entry-level brokers—runs the program.

“The first thing that happened after I came on board was to build the training program that we were going to need,” said Mr. Flax, whose title is managing director. “I couldn’t start recruiting and hiring until that was completed. We’ve had one class so far and I’m currently recruiting for the second class.”

That first class, said Mr. Flax, who came to the job with a sales background, included 7 junior brokers and started in March 2013. The next class, currently being recruited, is expected to be a similar size and start about nine months after the first.

These junior brokers are full-time Meridian employees, paid in the common commission driven model. However, they receive a small base salary for a period of time, reflective of the fact that the training program means a focus on learning, as opposed to phone calls or chasing down new business.

“When they start, I give everybody a training calendar,” Mr. Flax explained, detailing what the program entails. “The core material is broken into eight sections.” These include an introduction to Meridian, an overview of commercial real estate, asset classes, and then more technical information related to mortgages.

More senior Meridian employees lend their expertise to some of the sections as well. And, just like school, each core section concludes with a quiz that must be passed before moving on.

“The good thing is that in the first class,” Mr. Flax told Mortgage Observer, “everybody passed every quiz the first time around.”

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