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Last week, PeerStreet’s General Counsel, Sara Priola, and I attended the annual CREFC Industry Leaders Conference.

For those unfamiliar with the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC), it is the primary trade association for the commercial real estate finance industry. CREFC members include balance sheet and securitized lenders, loan and bond investors, private equity firms, servicers, rating agencies and more. The organization hosts a variety of events throughout the year, but this one is by far the largest and the one that tends to set the tone for the market going into each new year.

There were more than 1,700 industry participants at this year’s conference and the agenda included everything from panels on credit spreads and interest rates, to the impact of technology on the industry and, probably the most talked about topic, regulation. We even were able to see two PeerStreet investors, Rob Brennan from Guggenheim and Guy Johnson from Walker & Dunlop, speak on Tuesday’s Industry Leaders Roundtable. The overall tone was mixed as people generally have a positive view on commercial real estate fundamentals, but the current volatility in markets, lack of liquidity and regulatory uncertainty has made a number of market participants cautious.

Alternative Investments

Both Sara and I have attended this event many times in our previous roles at Dechert and J.P. Morgan, respectively. We had the opportunity to catch up with former colleagues, clients and also meet new industry faces who were all interested in what PeerStreet is doing. We found people were very receptive to marketplace lenders and learning more about alternative investment opportunities in the space. The rise of securitizations from P2P lenders in the consumer-debt world has led to increased awareness of the model and propelled banks, institutional investors and rating agencies to become more actively involved.

Market involvement is exciting for us! The discussions solidified in our minds that marketplace lending has already made a mark on the industry and we can see the future implications for real estate finance being even larger. Overall, a great event to kick off the 2016 conference season.


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