Real estate crowdfunding platform Realty Mogul recently made a key hire when they added award-winning real estate veteran Elizabeth Braman to the company.
In hiring Ms. Braman, Realty Mogul gets someone well versed in both real estate and technology. She began her career as an attorney in the technology sector before moving on to help start Learning Objects, a software company. While with Skyline Financial, Ms. Braman served as Senior Vice President of their Commercial Real Estate Lending Division and played a key role in their online mortgage originations. Before joining Realty Mogul she was head of production at ReadyCap Commercial where she grew loan originations up to $30 million per month.
“Elizabeth is one of the most impressive real estate professionals in the industry with an impeccable track record and she shares our core focus on using technology to disrupt the real estate markets,” Realty Mogul CEO and Co-Founder Jilliene Helman said. “I have no doubt our originations will experience exponential growth under her leadership,” she added.
Elizabeth Braman spent some time discussing her new role and gave her thoughts on the industry to Bankless Times.
I am the Chief Production Officer, which means I manage the supply side of our business. My group works directly with sponsors and borrowers to provide capital for pre-vetted transactions. My team manages the debt or equity request from start to finish, which encompasses originations for residential debt, commercial debt and equity, as well as operations and credit.
What are some lessons you have learned about using and adapting technology that you anticipate putting to use with Realty Mogul?
Technology is an accelerator, it can enhance current business by creating efficiencies and addressing market needs. At Realty Mogul we are using technology to provide all of our stakeholders, whether it’s an investor, sponsor or borrower, with a better user experience. For investors, that means easier, faster access to investment opportunities. For borrowers and sponsors, that means faster, more efficient access to capital.
The release announcing your hiring spoke about how you are at the forefront of innovative mortgage technology. Can you speak about technology’s importance for real estate crowdfunding?
To date technology has been lacking in the mortgage space. So much of the process is manual which creates a less than stellar customer experience. By using technology we can apply big data for faster and better credit decisions, which provides quick responses and an overall smoother financing process for borrowers and sponsors.
Speed seems to be an important factor in other areas of online real estate technology. How important of a consideration is it in real estate crowdfunding?
It’s huge. Speed is a critical component of crowdfunding as a disruptor. Prior to online methods of raising capital it could take a sponsor months to raise the same amount of money we raise for them in hours. This is transformative in the industry as it allows buyers of real estate to use syndications whereas they couldn’t before, which means more buyers, more competition and greater velocity in the marketplace.
We have seen other companies in the sphere use technology as part of their vetting process for investors. What other uses can it have? How can the investor vetting technology be improved?
We definitely use technology to both ensure that our investors are accredited investors, by running them through a series of questions and a suitability analysis as well as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) vetting. In addition technology allows us to create faster, more accurate credit decisions, which provides greater confidence in our borrowers and sponsors, as well as supports the goal of providing pre-vetted real estate opportunities to our investors.
What role can technology play in the analysis of properties under consideration?
We use technology to drive our analysis with greater data points on the market, as well as on the asset. Technology has been the driving force behind the development of our risk scoring which offers our underwriters insight into the comparative strength of our markets, properties, sponsors and deal structure.
As real estate crowdfunding becomes more successful, it will attract more competition. How do you plan on differentiating yourselves moving forward?
Any successful industry is bound to have a lot of competition, particularly in the beginning. We have the first mover advantage with almost two years on most of the competition with our technology. This is light years in development time. We will differentiate ourselves going forward by being an originator, by underwriting our opportunities and providing information and transparency to our investors as well as an exceptional experience to all participants.
In the years following the recession companies have been sitting on cash reserves and seem hesitant to invest in capital improvements. Corporate facilities are at or near their oldest average ever or at least in decades. What influence have these issues had on commercial real estate and where do you see this developing in the future?
The deferred maintenance found in commercial properties means that there are a lot of value add deals out there. Vacancies are decreasing, absorption and rents are increasing, so those obsolete facilities create opportunities for our sponsors to bring us deals with a good story and great potential for solid returns for our investors.