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[IMGCAP(1)]SAN DIEGO-NorthMarq Capital, one of the largest privately owned commercial real estate mortgage banking companies in the US, has hired industry veterans Martin Meagher and Gardiner Champlin to head a new office that will specialize in multifamily originations with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae through NorthMarq affiliate AmeriSphere Multifamily Finance. Larry Stephenson, an executive vice president with Minneapolis-based NorthMarq, tells GlobeSt.com that the opening of the office reflects changing market conditions that have enabled the company to expand and to hire top talent to staff its new office.

“The difficulties that the market is going through are opening some doors that were closed to us earlier,” Stephenson says. He explains that, when the market was hot, top producers in the mortgage banking world were not inclined to change jobs, so it would have been difficult for NorthMarq to expand as it is doing now in San Diego. But now, he says, “With the market in the condition that it is in, and with some of our competitors in the financial condition that they are in, we are suddenly finding that people who we’ve wanted to talk to for years and wouldn’t return our phone calls are starting to return phone calls.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Meagher and Champlin, who have joined NorthMarq as of today as co-managing directors of the San Diego office, have been working as a team at firms including Banker’s Mutual, Berkshire Mortgage Finance, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup’s Citi Community Capital. Stephenson says that it is unusual for NorthMarq to open an office that specializes in one property type because the company’s offices typically arrange financing for all major commercial real estate property types. But since Meagher and Champlin were available and because multifamily financing is the most readily available right now, “We decided that if we were going to focus on any one thing in this market, multifamily is where we want to be,” Stephenson says. The nearest existing NorthMarq office to San Diego is in Newport Beach, but “San Diego is a separate market that we feel is big enough to sustain a separate office for us,” he adds.

NorthMarq hopes to eventually expand into other property sectors in the San Diego office, but how soon remains to be seen. “Right now, we’re still trying to find out who’s going to be lending money on the other property types,” Stephenson says.

The San Diego office will be arranging financing for deals ranging from $2 million to $100 million, but most will probably range between $15 million to $30 million, the standard Freddie and Fannie targets, according to Stephenson. He says that Meagher and Champlin expect to lease space for the new office in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego.

Ed Padilla, NorthMarq’s CEO, says that the company is looking for “the premier production personnel in our industry” to grow in other markets as well. “This is the time when NorthMarq can offer the kind of stability unavailable from a company that has taken on too much debt or whose capabilities are restricted by the public market,” Padilla says.

The Minneapolis-based company offers commercial real estate investment banking, investment services, real estate debt and equity financing, and commercial loan servicing in 30 offices coast-to-coast, with an average of $10 billion in annual production volume and services a loan portfolio of more than $37 billion.

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