Teresa Zien

Teresa Zien.

Teresa Zien

Managing Director at Invesco Real Estate

Teresa Zien
By November 10, 2023 9:00 AM

Are you bullish on New York City? Why?

I am bullish on New York City, since I believe long term it will make a comeback. It came back after 9/11 and, while a completely different extenuating hardship, I do think NYC has demonstrated its resilience.

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

In this environment of uncertainty, and at a time when we are sticking to our strong credit standards, having a reputational and relational approach to lending is of even greater importance. For deals, it is important to be in the zip code on pricing, proceeds and structure; but if it’s a jump ball, we have seen our strong relationships help tip the decision. Especially since COVID hit, certainty of execution — not only as a lender who will close at terms agreed to, but also post-close in working with their borrowers on any hiccups down the road — counts immensely.

How has your loan portfolio fared through the pandemic?

With moderate advance rates and minimal-to-no exposure to hospitality, commodity office, commercial markets or major blocks of coworking tenancy, our strategies were well-positioned going into this unusual time. It has been interesting to see how COVID-19 has generally hastened the underlying trends we had been seeing before the pandemic started, such as the downsizing of retail.

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

Closing any deal during COVID is a feat these days, but we work with our clients to find creative and flexible ways to get the deal across the finish line. One deal that we are proud of is a bridge loan we originated in Q2 2020 for Novel Lucerne, an upscale apartment complex in Orlando. The borrower was a joint venture between Carlyle Group and Crescent Communities. To find a solution for Carlyle Group, an important borrower that we have a programmatic relationship with, while in the depths of COVID, was a win for us.

Any interesting anecdotes about a remote closing experience?

We are closing on a new facility that was all done remotely. Our team quickly adapted to the new virtual world in order to collaborate with our clients to close deals. From being flexible with schedules and terms to incorporating technology, we can complete sizable transactions for our clients, regardless of their location. Closing deals virtually during COVID has allowed us to maintain and grow our presence in the market.

What strengths do traditional lenders and non-traditional lenders bring to the market today?

In markets with uncertainty, it provides an opportunity for non-traditional lenders. That said, I expect the players that will emerge stronger post-COVID will be about the strong getting stronger. We have seen the market gravitate toward the tried and true, and transactions that are occurring are mostly with existing relationships. Of the deals we have done since the onset of COVID, a significant amount of them are with repeat borrowers. We are seeing borrowers leaning to transact with their existing lenders who provide them with more certainty of execution.

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

We have been taking a more conservative approach on burn-off of concessions, lease up, and ability to increase rents. Our asset managers provide our underwriters with what they are seeing real-time at our assets, which help guide our underwriting assumptions. The market is searching for data points, which there is a lack thereof, given transaction volume is significantly down.

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

In the short-term, we’re seeing urban living is dissipating, but I believe people, especially young people, want to be in dynamic innovation hubs. Long term, I believe urban living will be desirable.

“When I’m not doing deals while working from home, you’ll find me…”

“…playing tennis.”


Lightning Round:

Favorite TV show you binged during quarantine?


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

Yes, I ate at a restaurant in Montana, when I was visiting Yellowstone. It was a small pizza shop outside the entrance, and it was the only option available. It even had communal salt and pepper shakers on the table.

Any new hobbies taken up during COVID?

Listening to podcasts during road trips.

Where is your COVID hideaway?

I live in L.A., so the beach has been my COVID hideaway. You can usually find me biking along the beach bike path.

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

One, when L.A salons were able to open before they were shut down, but I believe they have now re-opened again … hard to keep track.

Dream Zoom happy hour date?

Roger Federer

Home office or actual office?

I’m looking forward to actual office at some point.

Have you been on a plane post-COVID?

I took a JetSuiteX to Phoenix and went hiking in Sedona.

Best book you read during COVID?

“Winning Ugly” by Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison

Which will rebound first: retail or hospitality?

I believe leisure hospitality located within driving distance of major markets will rebound first, since they have been performing well.

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