With historically low interest rates and the pandemic-inspired pull of real estate in the most desirable US markets, it’s been a busy time in the real estate business. As of June 2021, US home prices recorded their 112th consecutive month of year-over-year gains and all four major regions of the U.S. recorded double-digit price growth in the last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, inventory and the speed of sales have been declining steadily.
Of course, real estate transactions can’t happen without financing. As the real estate market took off, A&S Capital, a Florida-based balance sheet lending firm, has become one of the market’s stand-out success stories, providing short-term financing for single and multi-family real estate transactions and expanding across the US from its base in the South East.
In stressful times, as businesses and individuals navigated through the Covid19 pandemic, certainty of execution, and A&S’s ability to curtail lengthy and bureaucratic processes thanks to its strong balance sheet, and cutting-edge draw process, became more prized than ever. Using blockchain technology, A&S’s draw process is painless, since they can deliver funds in as little as 24 hours to its clients, before an in person inspection is completed. Indeed, the company’s adherence to its core values and customer-centric approach has paid off. Business surged, as existing clients came back for repeat business and were joined by new customers, mostly from word of mouth referrals. A&S grew 10-fold in two years, growing from $50m in active loans on its balance sheet in 2019 to a projection of $500m by December 2021.
In business, trust means everything. For real estate businesses, there is often the potential that, even after a lender approves a loan, the money won’t be there on the day of closing or the lender will change the terms at the last minute, and the risk can be paralyzing. “We put ourselves in the shoes of the investor,” says co-founder Alexis Agopian. “Trust means certainty of execution, and we deliver.”
Launched in 2017 by Agopian and Jorge Silberstein, with Chief Credit Officer Martin Bedecarratz coming on board in 2020, integrity, and a deep-rooted commitment to its client base, have always been at the crux of A&S’s vision. Like the people they serve, the decision-makers at A&S had a dream: theirs centered around creating a company that could offer bespoke solutions for unique capital needs, all while remaining dedicated to making the loan process painless, transparent, and successful for all clients.
Four years later, the team has turned its vision into reality – by helping its clients to achieve their own dreams. There are no middle men at A&S. As direct lenders, when you contact the company for a loan, you talk directly to one of the owners. This empowers clients, which is further solidified by the fact the company provides access to balance sheet lending, tailored to specific needs, and embarking on each deal with shared passion and values, building highly valued long-term relationships.
“It takes years to build a reputation, but seconds to ruin it, and we understand that,” says CCO Bedecarratz, who points to a recent $3.9m deal involving a 60-unit multi-family building in Atlanta, Georgia, as an example of the lender’s ability to win over clients with its ability to execute efficiently, delivering a trusted service under pressure. “We closed this deal in one week,” he explains. “The borrower’s primary lender was delaying the underwriting process when they knew time was of the essence and the borrower was at risk of losing the deal. We saw this as an opportunity so we came in and offered aggressive terms and a one week close. We executed just the way we promised, we earned the borrower’s trust, and we are now looking at funding another 40-unit deal they have under contract.”
This track record of cultivating trust so that A&S clients return time after time has forged strong bonds between A&S and its clients.
“A&S has helped us in the growth and acquisition of quite a few multi-family buildings and fractured condo projects in South Florida,” says property developer and return A&S customer Mike Sagaro, who owns over a thousand properties and has six thousand properties under management. “The relationship and the timing has been superb. When they come with approval, it’s the real deal. I’ve been in this game for a long time and they are by far one of the better service providers I’ve been around.”
So what really sets A&S apart? Unlike traditional financers, who often sell client’s notes to third party aggregators, A&S is able to keep the notes in their balance sheet from beginning to end meaning, in most cases, the borrower deals with A&S alone throughout the process. Common sense lending is their bread and butter. Their strong balance sheet (much bigger than the average in the industry) allows them to be flexible and creative in the way they structure loans and which projects they take on, meaning they can fund deals that the bank or other lenders might not fund despite a project’s potential.
As accredited members of the American Association of Private Lenders and the National Private Lenders Association, the financiers at the helm of A&S have stood out as pioneers of their industry, and a trusted voice for its future. Bedecarratz is set to be a speaker at this year’s highly anticipated Pitbull Conference, the largest private lending conference in the country, happening in October in Austin,TX.
“Clients know that when we say ‘yes’, we mean it,” says Agopian. The co-founder is often reminded of one of the first deals done by A&S, “we were trying to win this loan, but our borrower was having doubts. They were concerned, due to bad past experiences with other private lenders, that we wouldn’t have the funds by closing time. So we made an exception and sent the funds to escrow, waiting a few days, while the client finished gathering all the paperwork. We did that, our client felt 100% comfortable, and we were able to close the deal successfully.”
Got a Deal? Talk to the decision makers.