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IRVINE, CA-Johnson Capital Express, a division of Johnson Capital that targets the market for financings under $5 million, is expanding its operations nationwide in response to its growth in Western US markets and what it calls “interest from borrowers across the country.” The Johnson Capital Express division, which closed $4 billion in transactions last year, processes and sells commercial real estate loans for retail, industrial, office, multifamily, self-storage, hospitality and mobile home park properties.

Headed by Ken Gaitan, Johnson Capital Express has been seeing “a tremendous amount of demand in the office, multifamily and retail sectors” for a wide range of financings between $1 million and $5 million, Gaitan says. He notes that the Capital Express platform has already built a strong portfolio in the West, especially in California.

The Johnson Capital Express expansion plans call for growth into the Sunbelt states, the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. Although its target market is in the range of $1 million to $5 million, JCE also does larger deals, like the $22.6-million acquisition loan that it recently closed for a seven-property apartment portfolio in Orange County.

The $22.6-million transaction was complex, requiring the payoff of the borrowers’ existing loans from four separate banks. The deal was completed in 45 days, JCE notes.

Among the other deals the division has completed recently have been the $5-million cash-out refinance of a retail center in Denver, a $4-million acquisition loan for a single-tenant FedEx facility in Morton, IL and a $3.8-million cash-out refinanced for a mixed-use office and retail property in Stevens Point, MN.

The Johnson Capital Express expansion comes at a time of uncertainty in commercial finance, with CMBS spreads having widened lately and a number of sources commenting on the difficulty of locking in financial terms that would have been easy to arrange just weeks ago. Gaitan says that the JCE platform is designed to work under such conditions.

“Even in unstable periods where there is extreme rate fluctuation, we provide our clients with creative programs such as streamlined underwriting, ‘stated income,’ bridge loans and flexible prepayment structures,” Gaitan comments.

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