John C. Lettera, founder and CEO of RealFi Financial LLC, was introduced to the real estate world early on in his life. A fortunate opportunity as he was able to learn and absorb as much as he could, and at an early age, developed a true appreciation for how capital stack, or the financial structure, or a real estate deal works.
“I was intrigued at all the different types of capital invested into a real estate asset and the relationship between each category. The more I learned about the relationship between equity and debt, the more I liked being involved on the debt side. I appreciate how every real estate deal is unique, and the factors that contribute to the potential risks and returns vary. The structure of the capital stack will therefore also vary from deal to deal. It’s a constant intellectual challenge,” John recalls.
Even though he began his work in real estate early, he is always one to encourage a growth mindset, and always one to get back up after failure. One of his favourite analogies to solidify the mindset that has brought him success is one of a baby learning to walk.
“When a baby is learning to walk, they constantly fall over, but that doesn’t make them want to stop trying. We are not born afraid of failure, but we are taught to be embarrassed by it. An entrepreneurial mindset requires a way of thinking that enables you to uncover and see problems as opportunities, and then turning those opportunities into a business. If you believe you can get better and do other things, that growth mindset will enable you to accomplish more,” John outlines.
A true believer in the power of the entrepreneurial spirit, John contends that while many factors come into play when building a business, the most important ones have nothing to do with innovation, balance sheets, finance, or marketing – the most important is the entrepreneur themselves.
“Experience has taught me that if we go to work every day on the internal, the external success we crave will undoubtedly show up along the way. The remarkable thing about working on ideas like inner passion and purpose is that your progress comes out so authentically in all manner of external interaction. When people can genuinely feel that you care about what you are engaged in, you are a persuasive salesperson, without actually trying to sell anything,” John says.
Now, John is the proud founder and CEO of RealFi Financial LLC, a leading, technology-driven, alternative investment management firm with expertise in real estate credit strategies. Through its subsidiaries, RealFi is an originator of qualified and non-qualified residential home mortgages. And through the RealFi REIT, a leading real estate finance company, the firm is a direct lender focused on originating commercial real estate bridge loans in major markets throughout the United States.
“I have over two decades of legal experience and over 30 years of experience in real estate debt originations and acquisitions as well as equity investing,” John says.
As a leading firm, RealFi is able to differentiate itself from a crowded space by representing the future of real estate lending. While the firm has experienced significant growth, they still understand that to stay relevant in a changing market, they need to diversify continually. To do so, they provide creative and comprehensive financing solutions across the capital structure and risk spectrum, originate loans and invest in debt securities underpinned by high-quality real estate, and both manage and originate loans collateralized by commercial real estate.
“Institutions only slowly re-enter the market at a time when a flood of borrowers needs refinancing and recapitalizing. Our objective is to fill that gap on assets with a lowered cost basis, thus allowing us to obtain excellent risk-adjusted returns up and down the capital stack,” John outlines.