By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
Brooklyn, N.Y. — Eastern Union Funding closed 2013 with a 60 percent increase in volume over 2012, falling slightly short in 2013 of the $2 billion mark. Another nine figures are in the pipeline for first quarter 2014.
Newly formed divisions and growing banking relationships among developments are credited for the commercial financing titan’s dramatic growth spurt. Sources at the firm called 2013 a “break-out year” across the board. It was a 12-month period that shattered the company’s own expectations of what could be accomplished in the year. In tandem with the upsurge in production, Eastern Union witnessed similar growth on the banking side. As a result, in 2013 the firm closed with more than 70 lenders, a big increase over the 56 lenders of 2012.
How to explain the increase? “It’s a perfect storm coming together,” company CEO Ira Zlotowitz tells MHN. “We brought in some veteran bankers to work on the banking relationship side and raise the credit quality, brought in some senior underwriters, developed an amazing platform for training junior brokers and created a technology platform to put it all together.”
Adds managing partner Abraham Bergman: “We have an arsenal of lending sources, and we know who has the appetite for which type of deal. And on a broad scale, commercial real estate is surging . . . Change can make or break a company. The scene is changing, but we‘re moving just as quick, without getting too comfortable, and gearing up for an even better year in 2014.”
A key contributor to the surge in business has been the inflow of overseas investors arriving in the United States and purchasing land at a brisk rate. Many of them regard New York City as the gold standard. At the same time, hundreds of tech companies have appeared to help re-establish Manhattan neighborhoods. These sweeping and unusual developments have helped affect the landscape and the general commercial real estate arena as well, the firm reports.
Many competitors, Zlotowitz says, “typically forget their roots and go after the bigger and bigger clients. As we grow, we’re going to grow with our same kind of client. We’re going to figure out what that guy wants.
“More and more clients are coming to us and saying, ‘You’re big enough to get things done, and small enough to treat our deal like it’s special.’ ”
Zlotowitz is very positive on 2014, and believes it will be a very good year on the refinancing side and also deliver a great many purchases. “Not only did we ‘arrive,’ but the pieces are in place to do even better,” he adds.
“Our underwriting department is unrivaled, our technology is one of a kind and self-sustaining, but above all, it’s not only about which steps we took. It’s about the habits we developed very early in the game.”