Jay L. White
Apex Realty Advisory
Jay started Apex Realty Advisory located in Wilmington, Delaware in 2009. Apex Realty Advisory is a professional real estate firm providing comprehensive valuation analysis and sound, competent advice for making real estate decisions. Apex Realty Advisory provides a wide variety of clients with professional real estate appraisal and counseling services to a variety of clients including attorneys, banks, corporations, healthcare companies, lenders, and non-profits. The president, Jay L. White holds the MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute, the CRE designation from the Counselors of Real Estate and is a Fellow of the Royal Chartered Surveyors (FRICS). In addition, he holds certified general appraisal licenses in six states.
Q: How did you get your start in the business?
A: I got my start in real estate at a small, family owned, fee appraisal shop located in Wilmington, DE. The MAI who ran the shop was a Jackson Cross alumni. He was very smart, but grumpy and opinionated. Nonetheless I learned the basics “ropes” of the real estate business and then moved on to work in the real estate finance and construction lending group at Mellon Bank during the S&L/RTC crisis of the late 1980s. I learned plenty from the non-performing loans, OREO and OCC audits. From there I went into the Big 4 accounting world at Ernst & Young, LLP. Ultimately I built and ran Ernst & Young’s Transaction Real Estate Practice in Philadelphia. I left E&Y in 2007 to head Duff & Phelps, LLC’s real estate valuation and consulting practice in Philadelphia. In mid 2009 when the economy and real estate world reeling with uncertainty I left D&P to start my own business, Apex Realty Advisory. My current business operation is in Wilmington but I still conduct business in the Philadelphia Metro and the entire Mid-Atlantic area as well.
Q: Real estate is cyclical. In terms of the specific asset classes you look to acquire, where in the cycle do you think we are right now? How long do you think it will take before we are at par again?
A: Yes real estate is cyclical, but it is also a risk based capital and management intensive business. The challenge today for investing is buying at the “right” price and pulling together the capital stack to close. Commercial real estate recovery lags the economy generally by nine to 18 months, so with the national economy on the mend – the prospects for CRE look good seems positive out a year or two. But there is the looming problem of refinance stresses and small and midsized banks maintaining capital reserves to be solvent. Over the next four years there is almost $1.5 trillion of real estate loans that mature with upwards of half are under water with greater than 100 percent loan-to-value ratios. This has many opportunistic investors licking their chops to go shopping for distressed loan and asset bargain hunting.
Q: Who is the person in commercial real estate you most admire? Why?
A: Sam Zell because of what he’s created and accomplished. For instance selling Equity Office Properties Trust at the top of the market, and reinvesting the profits in a dull decision to buy the dinosaur media investment the Chicago Tribune? Nonetheless he’s very smart, philanthropic, outspoken and tells it like he sees it without mincing words. You have to appreciate those qualities.
Q: Do you feel the federal government has taken sufficient action in restoring confidence and liquidity in the commercial real estate markets? If so, why? If not, what steps would you like to see the federal government take?
A: The Federal Government doesn’t belong in business at all, as you can see how well the U.S. Postal System is run. But with companies that were “too big to fail” they had to step in 2008 to prop up Citigroup, AIG and others avoid a global financial meltdown. What the government needs to do is to proactively regulate and penalize excess risk taking.
Q: If you weren’t in real estate, what would you be doing professionally?
A: Another career where I can “get dressed up and ready to play”. Most likely something that is an extension one of my many hobbies perhaps playing music, BBQ, or home brewing? Definitely something that is entrepreneurial.
Q: You forgot to pay your real estate taxes for the last ten years and “the man” puts you on death row. What’s your last meal?
A: I’m a meat and potato guy, so perhaps a nice medium rare prime rib or ribeye steak, garlic mash potatoes and a nice cold, IPA beer to wash it all down?
Q: Assuming you are able to get time off this year, what vacation destination would you like to visit in 2010? What about this vacation destination is so appealing to you?
A: That would have to be Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. My wife really wants to take our daughter plus I haven’t been there for perhaps 30 years. The place really is magical and to be in a self-contained city of enchantment and seeing the twinkle in the eyes of adults and kids alike is quite a feat.