2024 Power Finance

The 50 Most Influential Players in Commercial Real Estate Finance

By April 23, 2024 5:00 AM
The past year saw ghosts from old rate environments arise from the dead.

The past year saw ghosts from old rate environments arise from the dead.

“I ain’t afraid of no ghost,” was the mantra of Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore in the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.”

The thesis of the movie resonated as we compiled this list, 40 years later, covering a time in commercial real estate when things have been a wee bit scary, to say the least, with plenty of things that go bump in the night.

While our Power Finance honorees didn’t slide down a pole in a firehouse when clients called this past year — as far as we know, at least — we view them as Ghostbusters of a different kind. They had their own versions of proton packs, equipped to deal with a ghoulish year of transaction high-vaults, in which many ghosts from deals and rate environments gone by finally rose from the dead and had to be dealt with, stat.

While the volatility didn’t quite reach the level of “human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” there was plenty for our honorees to help — and contend — with, and myriad problems to solve.

Between asset- and portfolio-level issues being kicked down the road from COVID-19; to short-term, floating-rate debt coming due in a wildly different rate environment; to interest rate caps damn near killing a lot of borrowers; to capital stacks experiencing Terror Dog-size holes in them as financing sources retreated or withheld leverage — borrowers had a lot to navigate, and therefore, by extension, so did our lenders and brokers.

Dealing with Slimer seems like small potatoes compared to dealing with residual ectoplasm from Class B office properties that now need refinancing; the Stay Puft marshmallow man would be more welcome in downtown neighborhoods than another “doom loop” headline (hey, Mr. Stay Puft might at least relieve these neighborhoods of obsolete assets as he stomps around); and raising money for a ghostbusting enterprise HQ in Tribeca seems infinitely more possible than drumming up equity for a ground-up coworking development.

When it came to approaching our honorees, no borrower was in the market for much of the past year unless they really had to be. But some deals simply couldn’t be put off any longer — and that’s where our 50 stepped in.

While the past 12 months have felt way longer than one year, they’ve also felt like several different, contrasting years within a year. Our list reviews the 12 months ending March 1, kick-started by the regional banking crisis.

The first quarter of this year, by comparison, has seen a wave of activity, despite the “higher-for-longer” interest rate determination. In those 12 months, financing sources ebbed and flowed, and there were quiet periods and busier periods, bursts and lulls of capital market activity.

Our honorees took on the challenge head-on. When possible, they leaned into what they do best, in a savvy and prudent way.

They stepped in at the 11th hour when other lenders bailed, they restarted market segments that were quieter than the New York Public Library’s basement floor, and they guided clients through one of the trickiest markets in recent memory. They also knew the right time to pull the trigger — whether to bust ghosts or go to market during a time when no two days were the same for capital markets.

In general, our honorees — or at the very least one part of their business — were open for business and on call for their clients, “24 hours a day, seven days a week: No job is too big and no fee is too big!” as Venkman said.

Heck, busting makes them feel good. So: Who you gonna call?