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Borrower Perspectives: Pieter Sigmundt

  • First National Financial LP

“Congratulations to First National for 30 years of excellence.”

Pieter Sigmundt began in the real estate investment business in 1985. In 1986, he bought his first permanent property (230 units) in Sault Ste. Marie. Currently, Pieter has three active projects in his portfolio comprising 340 units. He has one building in Aurora and two properties in Sault Ste. Marie. In the past four years, he has invested $5 million into upgrades including furnaces, roofs, ventilation systems, kitchens, bathrooms and flooring. His goal is to bring all of his properties up to a high quality standard and keep them competitive in their respective markets.

Pieter shares his perspectives about the evolution of the industry, why he values the openness of his relationship with First National and what’s contributed to First National’s longevity for the past 30 years.

Q: How have you seen the industry evolve in the past 30 years?
PS: Previously, there were a lot of small owners with fewer buildings. In past 10 to 15 years, the REITS and their massive portfolios have entered and dominated the market. Many of the small landlords like myself have basically disappeared. In addition, interest rates have been at historical lows during the past decade. Values have also increased, which has been beneficial for landlords. In 1986, when I bought my first building, interest rates were at 12.5%. Now I’m paying 2.5%. That 10% differential goes straight to the bottom line. There has also been a greater legitimization of the industry, with more emphasis on training, government lobbying and representation for landlords in the form of the Landlord Tenant Act and the Landlord Tenant Board.  

Q: When did you start working with First National?
PS: I began working with First National in 2003 when I refinanced my property in Aurora.

Q: Why did you choose First National at the outset, and what made you keep choosing First National?
PS: I started with one building, and then as my other mortgages came due, I worked with First National. I appreciate the single point of service, input and consulting that you get from experienced industry experts. We discuss the best financing options, and the process always proceeds smoothly. I have gotten to know Peter Cook very well during the years that we have worked together. I’m comfortable with him, and we have a trusting relationship. He has a fantastic team around him, so I get varying perspectives and excellent advice. Our discussions are always highly interactive, and we talk often, even when it’s not time for me to refinance. I value the personal interplay and collaboration.

Q: How do you think that First National has proved its ongoing commitment to commercial real estate?
PS: First National is very involved in the industry. The company supports and is active in the new associations that have formed throughout the years. Sponsorship of workshops and seminars is a priority. First National has done a lot to educate landlords and help us understand real estate investment in an evolving industry. I feel that First National has contributed significantly to the legitimacy of the industry.

Q: What do you value about your relationship with First National?
PS: I have a very open relationship with Peter and his team. There is mutual trust. We can talk about anything – our personal lives, trips, golf. I have attended several of the functions and events, and I feel the same every time. There is a culture around First National, which really adds some sprite to your life. I’m originally from Europe and grew up with the values of openness, honesty and courtesy. Those values are reflected in my relationship with First National.  

Q: Thirty years is a significant milestone. In your opinion, what has contributed to First National’s longevity?
PS: You get everything that you need in one place, from great people. When I’m refinancing, Peter and his team provide me with all of the information and services that I need to get it done quickly, efficiently and effectively. I haven’t dealt with other lenders in a long time. When I found First National in 2003, I didn’t have to look any further for exactly what I needed. It’s quality all the way through – direct information, quick response, friendly people, engaged collaboration and interactive dialogue. First National has forged an excellent path. The only thing that I can say is to keep doing what you do best.