Michael Berman has embarked on quite a journey in the past few years. After his firm, CWCapital, was sold to Fortress Investment Group in 2010, he envisioned even greater success for the commercial real estate lender he founded 21 years ago. And two years later, in September 2012, the Needham, Mass.–based company was acquired by Bethesda, Md.–based rival lender Walker & Dunlop, making the latter the second-largest multifamily lender in the nation.
Although the transaction forces Berman to give up the reins to his empire, he says the sale will only strengthen CWCapital. The sale also gives him the time and opportunity to make larger moves in the housing finance industry.
“I’m planning to focus a lot of my efforts on the future of the GSEs and the government’s role in housing,” says Berman, who will serve as executive vice president at Walker & Dunlop through the end of this year.
Along with assisting Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker during the transition period, the former Mortgage Bankers Association chairman plans to help ensure future liquidity and “give back” to the industry. Already, Berman’s schedule is filled with meetings with federal leaders. “Everything on Capitol Hill over the next 18 to 24 months will have an impact [on housing] over the next few decades,” he says.
By next year, he expects to teach real estate and public policy at the graduate level. He’ll continue on the business side of real estate, too, participating on boards for both for- and nonprofit entities. And whether through consulting or advising, he’s sure to increase his voice on Capitol Hill, working with think tanks and, he hopes, closely with the next administration.
“It’s an entirely new chapter for me,” he says.