In the News 12/ 21/ 2018

Sue Blumberg recognized in Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence

Sue Blumberg, senior vice president/managing director of NorthMarq’s Chicago office was recognized in in the Women of Influence Feature in Real Estate Forum. For a quarter of a century, REForum has published the Women of Influence Feature as a way to highlight women making inroads in the industry.

Learn more about what set Sue apart in her nomination responses below:

Why should this person be selected as a 2018 Woman of Influence? What makes this nominee stand out from her counterparts?
Sue has been involved in the commercial real estate industry since 1979. She began her career in Chicago and in 1983 moved to Washington, DC where she began her specialization in multifamily financing while covering the Midwest markets. Sue relocated back to Chicago in 1987 where she has been since. She joined NorthMarq in 2006, as managing director. Her expertise and client relationships have allowed her to refinance many properties several times over her career. Sue has provided financing for over 500 properties, representing over $5 billion in loans.

Sue is a graduate of University of Iowa (BBA Financial Economics) and DePaul University (MBA Finance). She is a licensed Real Estate Managing Broker in the State of Illinois. She serves on the Board of Highland Park Nursery School and Day Care and volunteers with several local charities. Sue is a founding member of Real Estate Finance Forum and a member of CREW Chicago.

In what ways has this nominee left her mark on the industry? Why is she worthy of this recognition?
William Ross, president: “Sue has been instrumental in her advocacy of women at NorthMarq, where she organizes a women’s breakfast at the company’s production conference. This event has grown from just nine women the first year to nearly 30 this year. In addition, she is diligent in her advocacy for clients, providing thorough analysis and solutions no matter the financing situation, and a great liaison to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, often being recognized as one of their top national producers of the year. She was also selected to receive NorthMarq top internal award in 2015, which recognizes production, leadership and integrity.”

What are the nominee’s current responsibilities?
At NorthMarq , Sue is a managing director/senior vice president and provides financing solutions through NorthMarq’s direct relationships with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, preferred life insurance correspondents, CMBS lenders, HUD, non-recourse debt funds and banks. She leads the 12-person Chicago office, one of the company’s fastest growing offices, adding two new producers and three new financial analysts this year.

In the last four years, Sue has guided her office to $1.319 million in debt and equity transactions, with more than 250 of those loans in multifamily properties. She’s recruited two new producers and three new analysts to join the office in 2018, increasing the number of producers to seven.

Please list the nominee’s greatest professional accomplishments in past 12 months.
Sue is a top-tier Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac producer for NorthMarq , with accomplishments in the affordable housing financing for both agencies as well as FHA. In addition to originating business, Sue manages the Chicago office, which has had significant growth in the last 12 months, most recently adding two senior-level producers and three new analysts.

Recent transactions:

  • $93 million market-rate transaction of Columbus Plaza in Chicago via Fannie Mae’s Green Program, which was the third refinance of the same property.
  • $42.2 million for 509-unit multifamily property in Mt. Prospect, Illinois
  • $4.02 million affordable loan through Freddie Mac’s Targeted Affordable Housing program for a 145-unit independent senior living property in Illinois. The property was acquired by a leading Chicago Not-for-profit operator and manager that purchased the property to ensure the long-term viability for those in the community that deserve a great place to live.

What is the nominee’s membership/activity in business, career-oriented, charitable or civic-minded organizations?
Sue serves as President of the Board of Directors of Highland Park Nursery School and Day Care and volunteers with several local charities. Sue is also a founding member of Real Estate Finance Forum and a member of CREW Chicago.

Sue has been a guest lecturer for more than seven years at DePaul University for the MBA program in Real Estate specifically in the Commercial Real Estate Finance class.

How has being in CRE impacted your life?
When I began in the CRE industry more than 30 years ago, I was with a smaller company and had no idea there were practically no other women in the business.  I was one of 20 originators in my company.  It wasn’t until I went to an industry conference that I realized that the same 5 percent ratio of women in the industry looked a lot different, and was a lot more pronounced. The good ‘ol boys club was hard to break into, but I had excellent mentors both men and women. Women on our business walk a fine line in wanting to be one of the guys, while still remain professional. I felt I had strengths that worked well in the business, as I have a passion for what I do, and don’t think it’s limited or partial to men or women. If you know your business, and are able to communicate the advantages of what you represent, I feel strongly that women are likely to win the business evenly. 

 I have found great camaraderie in our business and enjoyed success through three different economic cycles. There were fewer women that were the owners or decision makers as my clients. I have seen that change over the years as well which is wonderful and as it should be. It is great being a woman business person and often attracts attention since there are so few of us. We still stand out in a crowd.

What’s your take on the current state of CRE and its performance?
CRE today is more stable and well positioned than almost any other time.  There are so many checks and balances that any imbalance or glitch in the economy shouldn’t be detrimental to CRE. Capital is plentiful in the markets, which could lead to aggressive underwriting, low cap rates and frothy pro-forma returns, but the underlying loan parameters remain prudent. As interest rates continue to rise, the amount of debt available will be affected, thereby limiting the chance of over-leveraging a property. 

That said, the amount of equity in a deal and the more limited returns will start to affect the pricing of transactions. We have found there is still plenty of opportunity in value-add transactions, energy saving green programs, and older vintage renovations to capture great returns to investors. A longer term hold of a property is more likely to be advantageous as the upsides and growth continue.  Interest rates are an unknown for the future and if they rise steadily and not suddenly the risk is minimal.

 As far as property types, industrial and multifamily are the favored groups. Retail continues to be a challenge although it seems to be reinventing itself more oriented to services such as fitness or boutiques. Office and hospitality are holding their own, and are specific to location and growth within any market.  It’s a good time to be in CRE. There is stability throughout the industry.