Peter Fishman is an investor out of San Francisco, where he works as Chief Strategy Officer for a fast-growing startup. He started investing at a young age and received his PhD in Economics at UC Berkeley.
“I've always had an interest in the markets, transactions, and supply meeting demand. For me, there's a natural extension between the demand for saving and the demand for the future — which is captured by what I invest in today.”
Well-versed in traditional markets via stocks and index funds, Peter has also tried venture capital investing. Now it was time to add commercial real estate to his portfolio.
In 2013, the Bay Area real estate scene was taking off. Property values were starting to bounce back from the 2008 crisis, and Peter noticed similar trends spreading across the country.
“You had the population shifting and a lot of redevelopment of neighborhoods in urban areas. And I just thought there was tremendous opportunity to invest in the commercial space.”
Most important to Peter was portfolio diversification. He wanted exposure to the East Coast, where markets were tied to different work norms and industries than the Bay Area he was in.
“I liked the DC market but it was hard for me to get exposure to it. There's many problems with investing in commercial real estate on your own. One is the extremely large capital investment that’s required.”
Peter first discovered RealCrowd while searching for venture capital opportunities. He found their direct model approach — allowing investors to partner directly with sponsors — unique among the competition. He even ended up purchasing a small ownership component of the company.
“To be a part of a $10 million deal — even a small part — is an interesting and unique opportunity for an investor.”
Then he started browsing the real estate opportunities..
“The RealCrowd team had really pounded the pavement and done a good job of sourcing sponsors — limiting the opportunities to sponsors that passed their qualification process.”
Peter was sure that the RealCrowd team was betting the success of the platform on the quality of their sponsors.
“The Fort Davis deal checked off a nice box of being in line with the trends that I was roughly feeling. Plus, it allowed me to diversify away from the tech income.”
The deal was brought forth by Atlas Real Estate Partners and West End Capital Group — experienced sponsors with over 45 deals executed since 2009 and over $1 billion assets under management. Atlas-West End planned to purchase a 44,000 SF mixed-use retail center for $9.3 million and add value through several key areas.
“I requested more information through RealCrowd and was given all the details I needed — including the high level strategy and timeline for the project. I also received information on when funding would be completed.”
During the due diligence phase, the level of professionalism by both RealCrowd and Atlas-West End instilled a sense of confidence in Peter to move forward with funding.
“I didn’t feel any hesitation. I was actually pretty excited about this deal. I trusted Atlas-West End would be a great sponsor to partner with.”
The next couple steps were easy. “For accreditation, I sent some W2s that demonstrated that I met the income requirements for being an accredited investor. Then to fund the deal, I just signed the commitment documents, and sent an ACH transfer to a bank account,” Peter says.
Peter received regular communications from Atlas-West End on the progress of the investment. Every quarter, since 2013, up until the sale of the property last month.
“We received emails that announced key events on top of the quarterly updates.You can tell they (Atlas-West End) were good operators by how nicely detailed and professional these updates were.”
Atlas-West End would even send high-resolution images of completed upgrades and construction work, so that Peter and his fellow investors could understand why certain tenant improvements were being made. But the best assurance Peter got were consistent cash deposits in his personal account.
“Atlas-West End sent quarterly distributions equal to 8-10% annualized each quarter, which was in-line with the initial underwriting."
Overall, Peter appreciated the level of care taken to keep him informed. He wasn’t surprised by the professionalism shown by Atlas-West End, but it was a relief nonetheless to see it in action.
“Whether it was progress with tenants, progress with the plan, progress with the upgrades. All of those were mini “woo-hoo” moments that I celebrated.”
Atlas-West End did everything they said they would: improvements were completed on time, quality tenants were put in place, and NOI was improved.Then, on August 10, 2018, the Fort Davis retail center was sold for for $13.5 million — a 45% increase from the 2013 purchase price. This provided Peter and his fellow investors with a pre-tax 17% IRR and 1.9x net equity multiple on his investment.Peter was at work when he received the news.
“It was an exciting exit! And if you think about the holding period — about 4.5 years — in-line with the underwriting of 5 years, but still beating the returns — while simultaneously receiving dividends on a regular schedule — it ended up outperforming expectations. So obviously that part is really great.“
We asked Peter what he thought were the “factors of success” for the Fort Davis deal.
“I think first and foremost, Atlas-West End executed the plan. There's not much more to it. There was a plan. And that plan made sense to me on paper. They were reliable in terms of communications. And the details of the letters were vivid enough that it all made sense to me.”
While the Fort David deal goes through the final closing process, Peter is already on to investment number two with Atlas-West End. He also has plans to re-invest the additional liquidity coming his way and can’t wait to start looking for his next opportunity on RealCrowd.*****Atlas Real Estate Partners is a privately-held real estate investment firm headquartered in New York, NY, focused on value-add investments in multifamily, student-housing, retail, and office assets throughout the United States. Atlas is led by Managing Principals, Arvind Chary and Alex Foster. Since its formation in 2009, Atlas has closed over 45 acquisitions with a total capitalization of more than $900M in numerous markets including MD, DC, VA, FL, NY, TX, MA, and IL. Additional information about Atlas Real Estate Partners can be found at www.atlasrep.com.West End Capital Group is a privately-held real estate investment firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., led by Managing Partners James Barter and Jeff Wainwright. Founded in 2013, West End’s primary focus is delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to investors by applying a long-term, value-oriented philosophy to real estate investing. Over the past five years, West End has closed 11 acquisitions in the Washington D.C. area, with a total capitalization of $200M, and representing 2.5M square feet under management. West End’s partners have previously worked for some of the most well regarded institutions in the industry including Starwood Capital Group, HFF, Wells Fargo, and Gladstone Capital. West End’s partners have acquired or developed over 16,000 apartment units and 5.5M square feet of commercial property, valued at $2.4B and representing over $750M of invested equity. On the brokerage side, the partners have been a party to an additional $1.2B in commercial real estate transactions. Both managing partners are Washington, D.C. natives and have lived and worked throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Additional information about West End Capital Group can be found at http://www.westendcapitalgroup.com.