New York—The gaudy lights of Times Square don’t make the mood much brighter this winter for Robert M. White Jr. and his many clients among Wall Street mortgage-backed securities issuers.
But the 43-year-old president of Real Capital Analytics takes the long view, recognizing that the upheavals the commercial real estate finance and investment markets experienced in the second half of 2007 are probably temporary. Besides, as he sees it, having good data is the first step toward making good decisions, no matter which way the markets are going.
You may have heard pundits say that commercial real estate has gone from a largely private, local business to a global industry that thrives on widely available performance data on properties, loans, and investments. Well, White is one of the key providers of that information.
He is a dealmaker at heart, but he left that world to become one of the founders of Real Capital Analytics in 2000, and is now the majority owner of the 60-person firm.
White and his colleagues track investment markets, property sales, mortgage originations, capital flows, properties being bought and sold, closings, and what’s coming to market. They capture loan information primarily on loans originated for securitization and data on property and portfolio investments valued at $2.5 million or greater.
White said the goal is to capture data on every such transaction. He estimates that the firm is now capturing information on 90 percent of deals that are valued at $5 million or more.
White grew up in Virginia and began his career with Eastdil Realty right out of the University of Virginia. From there, he helped form Granite Partners, LLC. After recognizing how badly handicapped he and fellow dealmakers were by a lack of reliable information, White started a research group at Granite. As the dot-com boom was in full swing, he started an Internet operation to provide real estate deal data.
After the dot-com bust, White did a little retooling, and today Real Capital Analytics is a powerhouse that counts all the major commercial brokerage firms and many major investors among its clients. It was scheduled to open its first overseas office in The Hague in the Netherlands in January.
Real Capital Analytics serves mostly large national firms but is trying to appeal to regional firms, too. The minimum price for a subscription to the company’s data is $5,000 per year. The company’s transactional database contains information on buyers, sellers, brokers, terms, and key property attributes.