March 17, 2015 – New York, NY – Berko & Associates, the New York City-based commercial real estate advisory company, is extending its reach outside of its traditional urban investment market through intensifying client relationships and working on a more national scale. Berko’s managing director and head of finance and capital markets, Michael Korine, sat down with REFI and discussed the firm’s re-emergence as a commercial real estate advisory firm with a focus on larger, more challenging transactions.
Founded in 2005, Berko & Associates created a real estate investment business in New York and the Tri-State area. Along with the firm’s continued growth came the desire to find ways to better meet both individual and entity clients’ needs. When Korine met founder and president Joe Berko in 2011, the two discussed creating a more solutions-oriented firm.
“I’ve never been a sales person,” said Korine. “I’ve been more solutions oriented, and Berko & Associates is more about tackling clients’ needs as opposed to specific transactions. We want to give clients the tools to be able to show up at closing and make the deal happen. If it’s helping [the client] understand financial structures of transactions, or any other services, if we can be of help bringing in other resources we’re always looking to provide the client with as much as we can.”
The firm largely does transactions within the $15 to $150m range, and closed $300m in sales last year.
The firm is already approaching 50% of last year’s total in the first quarter of 2015, said Korine, adding that the firm’s large network of investors and debt sources allows them to close larger transactions. He also noted that banks have finally started to relax some lending requirements, and with the plethora of capital circulating the market and more institutional investors who are looking to fill the capital stack.
While most of the firm’s capital markets sales are focused in New York, associates are scanning the whole country for financing transactions. “We are often told by lenders that what we present on the finance end is high quality,” said Korine. “We get involved in the transaction prior to syndication. We fully underwrite and vet the numbers with the client to maximize the capital stack.”
A number of lenders and clients that are active around the US have referred the firm, helping them expand their footprint. “Our strategy of focusing on client solutions has been very successful over the past three years, and has given us a niche in the market,” Korine added.