First National Financial LP

Client sells Vancouver trophy property during difficult economic times

Feb 17, 2016

First National secures $80 million CMHC loan, the biggest deal done that year in Canada.

Key idea: assertiveness, speed, delivery, CMHC expertise

First National convinces the seller that it is the lender of choice for this sizeable deal and then leverages CMHC expertise to steward the buyer through the funding process.

What was the client trying to achieve?

A large national real estate company had a trophy property in Vancouver that it was looking to sell for $120 million. The plan was to market the property worldwide and find an appropriate buyer. Another First National client knew about the opportunity and referred Robert Fleet, Assistant Vice President, Commercial Financing, to the VP of Sales at the seller company. Fleet called the VP at 7:30pm one night to introduce himself, and the VP wanted to meet the next morning at 6:45am. Fleet didn’t hesitate in taking the meeting.  

“It was my goal to convince the VP of Sales that First National was the right lender to do the job,” says Fleet. “Our ability to fund the whole $80 million loan, without syndication or sharing, was definitely a key selling point, especially at a time when no-one was lending or spending.”

After meeting with the VP of Sales, Fleet developed a comprehensive prospectus, which became part of the brochure that the seller distributed to 2,000 potential buyers. Eventually, the seller secured a buyer and recommended First National as the lender.

Putting the deal together

The buyer was insistent on securing a CMHC insured loan. With the funds available and its expertise with and knowledge of CMHC, First National got to work quickly to meet expectations and fund on time.

First, CMHC wanted proof that the buyer was capable and had the net worth to pull off the deal. Fleet set up a series of meetings at the highest levels within CMHC and assisted the buyer with the required background work, which included a portfolio review.

“It took approximately eight to 10 weeks to fund the deal,” says Fleet. “We delivered on expectations and got the loan amount that the buyer wanted. It was a pretty remarkable feat considering that the credit crisis was happening all around us.”

Why First National?

For Fleet, confidence is what created this opportunity. He was confident in First National’s strength, size, reputation and ability. He was also confident in his ability to deliver on the expectations that he set.

“Apartment lending is our area of expertise. We also have ample funds, so we can do large deals. Most importantly, we have a one level approval process. So we can deliver quickly and the process is smooth for our clients,” says Fleet.

From the success of this deal, Fleet not only built a great business relationship, but also a great relationship overall. He is very engaged with the client outside of deals, attending his charitable events and supporting him in his philanthropic causes whenever possible.

 “That initial property is now worth double what the client paid for it,” says Fleet. Despite what was going on in the world economically, I wasn’t afraid to take the deal on and bring it to my team. The support that I received to go for it says a lot about who we are as a company, the value that we can provide, the smart risks that we’re willing to take and our desire to always think big. It pays off for us and our clients.”

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