Just when it looked like Michael May had tried almost everything during his 23 years at Freddie Mac, a golden opportunity fell into his lap as the Next Great Challenge: He was named senior vice president, multifamily sourcing for the financing giant, marking his first official foray into the multifamily sector. May, who has a B.S. in accounting from Old Dominion University, was up for it. Taking the reins from a good friend and mentor, Adrian Corbiere, May says he's ready to roll up his sleeves and dig into the ins and outs that multifamily has to offer.
Q: What appealed to you about this job?
A: It's the one area of Freddie Mac I haven't been deeply involved in. I've been here 23 years and started on the staff side, doing first audits, then accounting, then did technology and ended up connected to a trading desk. Then I moved to the single-family side and eventually ran that. The one area I had not been that involved with was the multifamily side. When this came up, I said, "Sounds great!" Adrian [Corbiere] and I are friends, and he told me, "You've got to do this. You'd love it."
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?
A: From a business standpoint, I want Freddie Mac to be a consistent and reliable broad-market participant. I think we're good in some areas–unstoppable–but there are other areas that need improvement. I think we do very well with A and B properties that are low-leveraged and aren't really stretch deals. Actually, people will look at that sort of transaction and say, "That's a Freddie Mac deal." I want people to look at any transaction and say that.
Q: What do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming year?
A: I think there is an awful lot of capital. In the olden days, whenever that was, there were players who understood real estate and investors who were experienced underwriters themselves. Now, we have investors from all over the globe who are investing, and there's enormous pressure on lending standards.
Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you about your career?
A: Your word is your bond. I'm very mindful of what I tell people, and would never tell somebody something I didn't believe was true. I think that being a person of your word is absolutely critical in terms of winning the respect of your employees, of your business partners, of your friends. I think that was good advice from my dad.