Anthony A. O'Brien
Anthony A. O’Brien is the founder & managing partner for Real Estate Lender, one of the fastest growing lender for investment real estate in the U.S. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and serving over 42 states, Real Estate Lender is one of the few lenders who offer a full line of products, from acquisition/rehab funding to new construction and long term financing. Tony is a visionary leader, a former hedge fund manager, and an accomplished executive with over 25 years of experience in the real estate and energy markets. Voted among the Top 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate in 2020 and as the Top Real Estate Lender in 2019, Anthony leads a team of real estate and underwriting experts to provide innovative financing solutions to drive the success of investors in both the rental market and the commercial space.
You’ve had an astounding record of success as an executive and entrepreneur. Tell us how your previous roles led to your founding Real Estate Lender.
From 1980 to 2001, I worked in the investment and securities industry. I started right out of college as a stockbroker with Bache, Halsey, Stuart & Shield, promoted in three years to senior vice president, one of the youngest in Bache ranks. After running the retail/institutional desk for three years I relocated to San Francisco and started at Spinnaker Capital as its managing partner, members of the PSE, CBOE, and the AMEX. In 2001 the firm was sold, whereby I moved into the power and energy sector, starting a fund that traded in natural gas, electricity, and gasoline. I was recruited to help build Glacial Energy from a startup in 2009 to one of the largest power and natural gas commercial operations in the U.S until 2015.
In 2015, I saw a huge opportunity in real estate. I decided the place to be was on the lending side, providing capital to investors who wanted to purchase commercial and rental properties. I first launched Real Estate Lender USA. I had the vision to provide lending solutions across all areas, from acquisition/rehab, bridge loans, and new construction, to permanent financing. I made this my mission to do it all. No one else had ever thought to do this strategy; we are the only lenders in the country who have. In 2018, I was able to acquire the name, “realestatelender.com”
Can you explain in more detail what Real Estate Lender does?
Our goal is to provide innovative financing solutions to our clients—our real estate partners—that span the entire project lifecycle across the universe of real estate investment properties. We’re the only lender in the country that does acquisition, rehab (fix and flip), bridge loans, new construction, and cash-out re-fi’s, and we’re a very large mortgage lender. Our customers can borrow money to fix a property, then also come back to get a mortgage on that property. It’s never been done before—but we’re doing it.
We started as a small shop. Over the past 4 years, we doubled our revenue each year in business. A big part of our success is that we’re 100% automated, doing about $180 million. We have a team of the most knowledgeable real estate and underwriting professionals in the industry, who make the process quick and easy for our clients. We lend money in 42 states, with a focus on the regions east of the Mississippi River, and including Oklahoma, Arizona, and Nevada.
You lead a thriving company with a pioneering model, yet you take a very personal approach to working with your clients. Will you tell us about this?
We don’t see ourselves as lenders; we see ourselves as “investors serving investors.” I’m on the same side of the fence as our customers. When people call us, I have no problem answering the phone, I love dealing with people personally. When people call other lenders, they can’t get in touch with the decision makers, so they’re shocked they’re speaking with me directly. I’m in the trenches with all of my people, from underwriting to transactions. I also never turn customers away. Ever. I discuss their particular problems and pride ourselves in helping fix our clients problems. We’re here not only to lend, but to help borrowers, and we care about educating them.
You recently launched another innovative lending solution in direct response to the challenges that investors are facing due to COVID, which is now the number one investment product in the country. Tell us about this.
The world never anticipated a global pandemic, so most lenders were completely unprepared. I created a product never before seen in the industry to help our clients successfully navigate this challenging time. When COVID hit, the 30-year mortgage market completely locked up, so I developed a hybrid product that has 5-, 7-, and 10-year maturity periods with a 30-year amortization. Our rates for this product are as low as 4.5%, which is unheard of. The industry responded with tremendous interest, so we teamed up with another organization to offer this product to their market.
Tell us about your book, Comprehensive Guide to Private Money Markets. I understand you’re the only published author in the lending industry, correct?
Yes, I am, and I’m proud to say it’s a big seller on Amazon. I saw a huge void where borrowers didn’t understand the process of borrowing money to buy investment real estate. People with little experience want to buy large properties and their ego gets in the way of reality. Part of the lending process is an interview with the lender. We seek the credibility factor of each borrower. I wrote about these issues and helped many borrowers to understand how lenders think and act toward borrowers. The book is read by many of my competitors, who made my book required reading for their staff.
Do you lead with a particular philosophy or motto?
As I mentioned earlier, we operate as “investors serving investors.” We’re in the business of lending money, not saying “no.”— there’s no better relationship than that.
Anthony A. O’Brien
Managing Partner— Real Estate Lender
NMLS #1473497 // NC #248
LinkedIn: Anthony O’Brien