Commercial mortgage origination and asset management firm Canada ICI Capital Corporation has opened a corporate office in Vancouver to significantly increase its presence in Canada’s third-largest urban market.
Canada ICI is one of the country’s leading commercial real estate finance firms, annually arranging financing in excess of $6.5 billion through offices in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and now Vancouver.
The Vancouver location is expected to finance between 150 and 200 transactions annually, with $2 billion to $3 billion in loan origination and funding.
Managing partner Brandon Kot told RENX those numbers are in the same range as Toronto, while Edmonton and Calgary are around $1.5 billion each.
“The access to exclusive capital is endless within our existing platform,” Kot said. “We’ve got asset management relationships and mortgage asset management relationships with over 30 different Canadian institutional investors.”
Canada ICI’s history, operations
Canada ICI was launched in 1993 and has always had a presence in Vancouver and British Columbia’s Lower Mainland through affiliates which operated under several names.
Those ties have been severed and the new office will be a much more cohesive part of the company.
“What’s different today about the organization is that we’ve done an exceptional job sort of institutionalizing the mortgage brokerage industry as a whole, which is traditionally a very fractured environment,” Kot said.
“We can enable brokers across the country to leverage our platform to grow their respective production lines, so the experience that you get in Toronto is the same as you’ll get in Winnipeg and the same as you’ll get in Calgary.”
Kot said the timing was right to open the Vancouver office because the firm’s platform infrastructure is well set up to on-board new and existing brokers.
“We’ve got a national analyst team and an infrastructure that’s fully built out from coast to coast that can enable a broker to step into our platform and immediately scale their business.”
The need for a local Vancouver presence
While each Canadian market is slightly different when it comes to mortgage origination, managing partner Doug Milne said they’re all fundamentally rooted in detailed analysis, data-driven decisions and relationships.
Kot believes the Vancouver market is more closely held than any other in Canada, so institutions have had a harder time penetrating it with scale. That’s why Canada ICI needed a local presence.
He said a handful of top-tier developers dominate the larger-platform builds in Vancouver, and they’re well-serviced by existing financing relationships.
The average size of Canada ICI’s loans is in the $10 million to $20 million range, but that is skewed lower by activity in Alberta, Kot said. He believes opportunities in Vancouver will push the average loan size there to between $30 million and $50 million.
Kot believes Canada ICI and its more than 30 existing mortgage asset management clients can offer new and unique forms of capital that traditionally haven’t been as active in the Vancouver and B.C. markets, providing value to local borrowers.
Milne said there are active files in Victoria and Kelowna and several Vancouver developers are seeking opportunities in Alberta because yields are so competitive and land is so scarce and expensive locally.
Kot said Canada ICI is marketing about $500 million in loans in the Vancouver market, but it’s too early to provide any details.
Vancouver office location and staffing
Canada ICI expects to have about a dozen staff working out of the Vancouver office, located in Waterfront Centre at 200 Burrard St., in the coming weeks.
Nate Larsen has been with Canada ICI since 2015 and moved from the Toronto office to become a director of mortgage origination in Vancouver. Director of mortgage origination Michelle Child joined the company this year after previously working for Atrium Mortgage Investment Corporation and KingSett Capital.
Director of mortgage origination Charles Chandler joined Canada ICI last year and has a background in commercial real estate lending with a large private lender and major bank.
Andrew Howard joined the company this year as a director of mortgage origination after working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Benjamin Clark, who joined Canada ICI in 2019 after spending two years as a commercial real estate appraiser, is the director of mortgage underwriting and will lead a team of Vancouver analysts.
“There’s lots of great talent here,” said Milne. “We wanted to hit the ground running to have a notable impact in the marketplace and I’m really bullish on us being able to do that right out of the gate.”