Andrea Balkan

Andrea Balkan.

Andrea Balkan

Managing Partner at Brookfield Asset Management

Andrea Balkan
By November 9, 2020 9:00 AM

What’s been the biggest market lesson learned during COVID?

The crisis has reinforced a couple of things we already knew. First, don’t panic – things are never as good as they look during a boom or as bad as they look during a downturn. Second, sponsorship is as important as the quality of the real estate.

Are you bullish on New York City? If yes, why?

Absolutely. The New York economy is resilient and diversified, and the energy and life of New York City cannot be replicated.

What’s key to New York’s rebound and recovery?

The rest of the country needs to get the COVID pandemic under control, and companies need to bring their employees back to the office.

How are you winning the deals for which you’re competing most aggressively today?

Relationships, based on a history of partnership, competence, transparency and certainty of execution.

How has your loan portfolio fared through the pandemic? Any surprises during asset management in the early days?

The real surprise has been that there haven’t been any real surprises. Our portfolio has fared well.

Which closed deal, post-COVID, are you most proud of and why?

We closed on a $450 million financing of an office building in Chicago, where we syndicated a $320 million first mortgage to five different banks and created a $128 million mezzanine loan. It was a complicated transaction with many parties, and we were able to deliver for the borrower.

Any interesting anecdotes about a remote closing experience?

Nothing that interesting, just lots of dogs barking, babies crying, and car horns honking in the background.

What strengths do traditional lenders and non-traditional lenders bring to the market today? Who’s emerging stronger post-COVID?

Traditional lenders went into the pandemic with stronger balance sheets than they had before 2008. While some traditional lenders have engaged in some degree of pullback to preserve liquidity, non-traditional lenders like Brookfield (BN) have been able to fill the gap with speed and ready capital.

How has your underwriting changed post-COVID? Is there more of an emphasis on underwriting or asset management today?

We consider three scenarios when underwriting today: pre-COVID, post-COVID and stabilized post-COVID. I would say that we are being prudent with our underwriting based on vigorous due diligence, and not merely underwriting the most conservative scenario because times are not perfectly certain. As for asset management, we have always focused on it, which is why our portfolio today is as healthy as it is.

Do you feel urban living is dissipating as a result of COVID-19? Why or why not?

No. Some people spent time outside of the city and some moved out, but I fully expect that trend to reverse in the second half of 2021. Cities will continue to be centers of culture and activity, and they will still be desirable places to live, especially for young people.

“When I’m not doing deals while working from home, you’ll find me…”  (please complete this sentence.)

“…in the office, on the beach, or chauffeuring my kids to practices and games.”


Lightning Round:

Favorite TV show you binged during quarantine?

“Criminal Minds” – all 15 seasons

Have you eaten inside a restaurant post-COVID, and if so, which one?

No need. Every restaurant at Brookfield Place has outdoor seating.

Where is your COVID hideaway? (i.e., Hamptons or New York City or other?)


Number of haircuts in past six months family trim or professional?

Several – a professional in my backyard.

Dream Zoom happy hour date?

Weekly happy hour with college friends

Home office or actual office?

Actual office. Since June 22.

Have you been on a plane post-COVID? If so, where did you go? If not, where will you fly first?

Not yet. I’ll go someplace warm that won’t require a quarantine when I return

Best book you read during COVID?

Did I mention the 15 seasons of “Criminal Minds?”

Favorite post-COVID secondary market from a lending perspective?

When we are lending in a secondary market, we focus on the same things as when we are lending in primary markets – we are looking to lend in locations where there are barriers to entry and we can lend below replacement cost.

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