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Former Nomura Asset Capital leader offers real estate equity strategies

By Jim Fried

I just love doing my radio show. It is pure self-actualization. I’ve been able to find my authentic self, which is on display every time I go on the air. I really enjoy creating content that people find useful and entertaining. One guest last month, Ethan Penner, managing partner at Mosaic Real Estate Investors in Los Angeles, is a great illustration of that concept.

Penner was originally a bond trader for Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert. When the Resolution Trust Corporation was formed in the early 1990s to address the savings and loan crisis, it made portfolios of assets available for sale. But there was just one catch: There was no financing available.

Penner took the skills he learned and brought liquidity back to the commercial real estate market through a vehicle he created: Nomura Asset Capital Corp. He and his firm singlehandedly created the mortgage-backed securities industry. He told me that no matter how capitalized and structured Nomura was, if the timing wasn’t right, he would have failed. But the timing was right – and he was an amazing success.

Penner has built on that success to create his new firm, Mosaic, which was born out of a Tony Robbins seminar that he attended that helped him realize that he wanted to find work that helps other people and not just himself.

Mosaic allows Penner to be his authentic self. He’s able to help high net worth investors build their real estate investment portfolios in a careful way that makes asset preservation the first priority. We discussed the concept of compounding and how people forget the powerful wealth that this simple concept creates.

Penner also seeks to take advantage of inefficiencies in the market that are created by government regulations. He believes that there is a significant void in the market for entrepreneurs that need well-structured debt capital. Mosaic addresses that market opportunity. His firm seeks to team up with experienced real estate entrepreneurs that bring their own equity to the transaction. Mosaic’s development partner uses that capital to add value to the property. Once the property has been repositioned, the transaction is recapitalized. At that point, Penner’s investors get their money back with a nice risk-adjusted return.

We also discussed Penner’s thoughts on technology in real estate. He believes that the markets are very efficient, but that the cyclical nature of real estate will show itself again and the markets will become less efficient. That will cause a disruption in the capital flow. Penner believes that that’s the time when technology will rise to the forefront and will help create a new and more efficient capital market. This new market will address the capital flow problems by applying technology as the solution.

A new era where technology begins to significantly replace the professionals that are currently working in the real estate business will soon be ushered in.

To hear my interview with Ethan Penner and other guests, visit my website, friedonbusiness.com. Make sure to listen to my show every Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. on 880 AM in Miami.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.