Adam Petriella is managing principal of Silverthread Capital
Corp., a commercial real estate finance company based
in New York City. He has sold and financed more than $1
billion in commercial real estate transactions in several major
markets. He previously led growth efforts and managed
day-to-day operations for Marcus & Millichap’s real estate
investment services and its publicly traded commercial real
estate brokerage company. Reach him at (212) 500-2087,
ext. 700, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becoming a Successful
Commercial Mortgage Pro Is a Process
Propelling yourself to the top will require networking, perseverance and expertise
By Adam Petriella
parties receive financing for commercial real estate
purchases as well as property development. Each state
has different rules and regulations governing commercial
real estate finance.
Commercial real estate finance can be a very profitable
field. The best strategy for a new mortgage broker is to
find a niche. This will allow you to develop expertise and
become a crucial addition to specific projects that
require your skills.
Some commercial mortgage brokers specialize in
arranging debt financing for triple net-lease properties
— which involve lease agreements in which the tenant
agrees to pay real estate taxes, building insurance and
maintenance costs. Others only work with nonbanks
and hard-money loans — which are based on the value
of the borrower’s hard assets (i.e., the real estate’s value).
Yet others focus on deals involving agency debt — such
as multifamily-property transactions financed through
Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Alternatively, starting as a
bank loan officer, with the requisite credit training or
analysis skills, works for some better than others.
Commercial real estate finance tends to require a
better understanding of math than selling real estate
does. But sales and persuasive skills are required, too.
Commercial real estate finance professionals often
come from a real estate analyst’s background or are
ex-loan officers, investment-sales brokers, or residential
lenders or agents making a career change.
There are many differences between large and small
commercial mortgage companies. Large enterprises
hire many people who are in the very beginning of their
career. At larger companies, the split that the company
takes can be as high as 50 percent of the commission.
Smaller companies have a much different feel.
Frequently these ventures are more relaxed than their
behemoth commercial real estate finance cousins. The
opportunities for advancement at smaller companies
can be greater than at larger companies. This greater
advancement opportunity exists because brokers at
small companies must wear many hats. You may be
expected to know and do more at a small company,
but that experience and knowledge is an invaluable
asset when it comes to advancement opportunities —
both within the company or at a different company.
The world of commercial real estate can be intoxicating, especially for young profes- sionals. Many new commercial mortgage brokers have dreams of making it big, with
bright-eyed visions of gleaming skyscrapers and bustling
For better or worse, developing exciting capstone
projects does not usually happen on your first day, or
even during your first year, of commercial-property
work. A career in commercial real estate can be challenging, but it yields lucrative rewards for those ready
to put in the work.
Like any endeavor in life, getting a good start is
integral to long-term success. In the commercial real
estate world, there are many different avenues to
victory. There is one thing that all top-level commercial
mortgage producers have in common, however, and
that is a solid understanding and practice of the industry’s fundamentals.
The business defined
The vast majority of new professionals in commercial
real estate sales and loan origination fail in their first
year. One reason for this high turnover rate is that
many people get into the industry without understanding the roles, responsibilities and grit needed to
succeed. Educating yourself about the ins and outs of
commercial real estate can help you avoid this pitfall.
That starts with discerning the differences between
residential and commercial real estate transactions. Most
people are somewhat knowledgeable about residential
real estate transactions. Many people take part in a real
estate transaction at some point in their lives, and this
gives them some level of insight into the process.
Commercial real estate is less accessible to the general
public. A simple definition for commercial real estate is
any real property that exists to generate income for the
owner or owners.
Commercial real estate encompasses a wide range
of property, from industrial developments to medical
offices, schools and retail centers. Unused or vacant
land that’s held as an investment or developed also is
considered commercial property. Although the licensing
requirements are the same, the players, the motivations
and the metrics between commercial and residential
real estate are nothing alike.
Lay of the land
There are two main avenues to travel down in the
commercial real estate world. Most individuals either
work in some form of sales or finance. In the simplest
terms, the sales side helps buyers and sellers meet and
conduct transactions. The finance side helps interested
Continued on Page 64 >>
For more articles on finding
success as a mortgage broker
View these articles and more at
Lawrence S. Brown,
“Close the Deal With a Little Help,”
Jan B. Brzeski,
“Alternative Lenders Can Be Your Secret to Success,”
Creighton C. Bildstein,
“Future-Proof Your Business,”