HEROINES OF HUD: BERKADIA WOMEN CHARTNEW PATHS IN MULTIFAMILY FINANCING
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides billions in financing to support development,preservation, and reinvestment in diverse communities across the country. Berkadia is proud to play a role in thisessential work, closing $1.1 billion in HUD financing on behalf of clients in 2019. Over the past several years, Berkadia hasbeen growing its dedicated HUD team—mortgage bankers, underwriters, and closers—adding diverse talent with theexperience and expertise needed to serve clients and support HUD in its mission.
For Women’s History Month, we sat down with just a few of the outstanding female mortgage bankers on Berkadia’sHUD team—Gemma Geldmacher, Laura Saull Smith, Jennifer Shurbet Quigley, and Kathleen Cohen—to talk about theimportance of the HUD program, how they landed where they are, and why diversity is essential to the work they do.
Why is the HUD program so important?
Saull Smith: HUD has a clear mission: To create strong,sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordablehomes for all. At Berkadia, we recognize that decent,affordable, and safe housing is vital for every singlecommunity across the country. Being able to leverageHUD programs on behalf of our clients enables us all toadvance the goal of improving our communities.
Quigley: HUD’s long-term, fully amortizing, and—formost of my more than 20-year career—low interest ratefinancing helps create value in providing more affordablehousing to our country’s rental population, particularly inthe current environment of high land and constructioncosts.
Geldmacher: HUD is a high leverage, low cost financingsource that will always be available. It’s pivotal thatwe provide that liquidity to the market, especially foraffordable deals and deals in secondary and tertiarymarkets.
What led you to work in HUD financing specifically?
Geldmacher: I didn’t choose HUD, HUD chose me. I wasworking as a Fannie Mae underwriter and was movedover to the HUD side to organize the team and makeour processes more efficient. Once I began my career inHUD, I really never left.
Cohen: I have always enjoyed building strongconnections with clients, and HUD affords a uniqueability to do so through the longer-term projecttimelines of our work.
Saull Smith: Serendipity. I started working for a lenderafter spending a couple of years on Capitol Hill as astaffer right out of college. I interviewed with a HUDcoinsurance lender. I ended up accepting that offerand have never looked back. This year, I’m celebrating
35-years in this field, and HUD still offers my clients thebest non-recourse, fixed-rate debt at the lowest cost inthe market.
CRE is traditionally male dominated. Why is it important,particularly for HUD financing, to encourage more diversity inthe industry?
Quigley: HUD financing options serve a diversecommunity. Having a diverse team to support our HUDclients allows for different perspectives on challengesthey’re facing, which helps us bring better ideas to thetable and offer a broader breadth of solutions.
Saull Smith: Our team’s mission is to be the premier HUDOrigination team in the industry and provide the bestservice to our clients today and as the industry evolves.Our people are our number one asset. Over the pastfew years, and in the years ahead, we’re committed tocontinuing to grow a diverse, highly experienced HUDteam that will provide the best possible service to ourclients.
Cohen: Statistically speaking, companies that have diverseboards of directors perform better on the S&P 500. So,diversity is good for business! The more we can do to getmore diverse talent into this industry, the better we’ll allbe.
Back row, left to right: Kathleen Cohen, Laura Saull Smith,Jennifer Quigley, Carolyn Whatley, Monica Newman; Front row,left to right: Amy Gay, Gemma Geldmacher, Nicole Hood