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Aug 24, 2019
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Feb 27 2019


On November 1st, 2018, the Guthrie Center for Real Estate hosted Karen Case as part of their Real Estate Center Executive Speaker Lunch Series. As President of US Commercial Real Estate at CIBC US, Ms. Case oversees various custom financing options for clients including property-level bridge financing, construction financing, subscription lines of credit, structured debt, commercial mortgage-backed securities and homebuilder financing.

During lunch, Ms. Case spoke about her level of involvement with her team’s various projects. As head of the team, Ms. Case makes it a point to be actively involved, or at least be knowledgeable, about all of her team’s deals so that she can have an overall assessment of risks for the business. When deciding which projects to pursue, she is very particular about getting the details correct. In addition to analyzing the financials carefully, she prefers to actually see the asset to get a better understanding of what is at stake for the bank and what the likelihood is for the deal to be successful. It is perhaps because of this thoroughness that Ms. Case has had only one bad deal out of the hundreds her team has underwritten during her time at CIBC. She also spoke about how the good relationships she has built with developers have been crucial to her success. With real estate being such a relationship-driven business, Ms. Case believes that loan default rates can be significantly reduced if the lender and borrower have mutual trust and repeated interactions.

Ms. Case discussed the changes she has witnessed in the retail sector over her career so far. With the proliferation of online retailing channels and e-commerce, there has definitely been a decline in the number of retail deals over the years. However, it is not correct that there is no place in the market for brick-and-mortar stores any longer. Ms. Case highlighted that a significant proportion of consumers still visit and shop in conventional retail stores and experiential retail has a big role to play in driving sales. In fact, by building retail establishments close to main roads, developers are able to command higher prices for homes in the neighborhood and transform communities into more lively and vibrant environments. CIBC continues to see deal flow in the retail sector and does not expect it to slow down in the near future.

About the Author

This article was written by Ankita Prasad '20.