Modernizing Commercial Real Estate Lending

In a world where market agility relies on tech, commercial real estate lending is behind the times.  In 2019, 43% of US banks still used COBOL, a pre-internet programming language, to carry out necessary functions.  The average commercial real estate deal takes 3 months to close, with much of that time spent calling individual banks.  As the pandemic has proven, a market can change dramatically in 3 months. 


Commercial lending’s reliance on legacy tech hinders their agility and performance at a time when the market is transforming dramatically.  In 2021, commercial and multifamily lending will grow by 11% to $486 billion.  Many of these gains are recoveries, but the plan is to forge a new normal, not return to a previous one.  In the case of offices, companies are in the midst of reimagining how their spaces will be used now that remote work is widespread.  33% of Americans currently work from home full time, with more in a hybrid state.  Powering the remote work revolution are data centers, which shoulder the demand for cloud and networking services.  


Furthermore, the shift to e-commerce is changing how people interact with retail and industrial properties.  More stores than ever are operating as mini-warehouses for curbside and delivery services.  Meanwhile, distribution sites, logistics warehouses, and storage spaces are in high demand.  Given these changes in buying patterns, different types of commercial real estate are gaining favor at the expense of others.  Lending has not been keeping up with these changes.


Compare the performance of commercial lenders to their residential real estate counterparts.  Through 2020’s dynamic market changes, residential mortgage lenders barely missed a beat by using technology.  92% of residential borrowers start by researching lenders online while 74% use an online portal to work with their lender.  Commercial lenders’ slow adoption of technology puts them at a disadvantage.  Digital mortgage players are on the rise, with more than 25% of loans being direct-to-consumer originations. Alternative lending platforms threaten to remove banks from the market entirely. Both Crowdstreed and Fundrise have over $1 billion invested through their platform.


While the fall of banks from the commercial lending scene would be terrifying, the fate is neither inevitable nor particularly difficult to avoid.  In fact, it would be an embarrassment if financial leaders allowed such an event to take place.  As Digital Bank author Chris Skinner puts it, “ignoring technological change in a financial system based upon technology is like a mouse starving to death because someone moved their cheese.”


Finance Loby can give commercial lenders the agility they need to close more deals.  With Fintech, lenders process mortgage applications 20% faster with no increase in defaults.  Lenders and brokers simply enter their criteria and preferences into a system and advanced algorithms compare each entry to assign both parties a perfect-fit deal.  All necessary information is in one place, lenders can update their criteria instantly if their appetites change, and the bidding/negotiation phase is streamlined.  Both parties can benefit from increased deal speed and safety.

MaKara Rumley’s Hummingbird Firm Delivers Consistent Results in Community Engagement Innovations

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, more and more people recognize the need for innovation and communication to develop modern solutions to society’s most significant problems. Leading the charge in bringing together diverse people, sectors, and ideas are MaKara Rumley and her multidisciplinary team at Hummingbird Firm. Their commitment to helping large projects and communities establish bridges of communication is catalyzing transformational community engagement.

Characteristic of her role as a thought leader, MaKara Rumley combines technical skills, genuine passion, and dedicated service to deliver consistent results to her clients. Her positive impact is most evident in projects related to environmental justice, health equity, the environment, and economic development. She has served as the Senior Advisor on Community Engagement for the Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in Region 4 under the Obama Administration.  She was an Environmental Justice attorney with GreenLaw, and a regular lecturer and presenter on cultural competency and community engagement.

Due to her experience as a practicing environmental justice attorney, MaKara Rumley discovered her knack for cultural translation. She soon found herself discussing complex projects both in kitchen table conversations and in high-profile meetings with elected officials, executives, or leading engineers. The demands of her responsibilities helped her recognize that the success of a high-impact project largely depends on how it engages and connects with the community.

MaKara Rumley founded Hummingbird Firm, a community engagement consulting firm, after her tenure in the Environmental Protection Agency. The firm provides her with a platform to apply and expand what she has learned about engaging with a variety of communities to solve problems. Today, Hummingbird Firm has established itself as the preeminent figure in creating strategies to communicate with those that are  underrepresented and in communities that have been underinvested.

For Hummingbird Firm, MaKara Rumley brought together an expert team of professionals from diverse fields, including engineering, transportation, toxicology, interior design, and law. Together, they draw from a wide range of expertise and perspectives to rethink challenges and introduce innovations. Because they come from different backgrounds, they use  unique approaches and develop custom techniques to ensure positive community influence for their clients..

Hummingbird Firm specializes in face-to-face and digital engagement for public involvement, cultural competency and equity training, communications, and strategy planning— that successfully connects with “hard to reach” members of the community.  Their services are highly in demand among city planners, environmental and transportation engineers, A/E (architectural/engineering) firms, and NGOs. In addition to these specific audiences, the firm’s approach is specially designed to guide companies, organizations, or government units looking to effectively communicate with  underserved communities.

Following in the footsteps of founder MaKara Rumley, Hummingbird Firm gains the trust of its clients by delivering results. “We measure our success by the number of communities that we positively impact,” said the company. Members of the Hummingbird firm carefully consolidate the viewpoints of the private and public sector, together with that of the community, to identify ways that each stakeholder can succeed. This way, projects reach their full benefit potential.

Through Hummingbird Firm’s combination of strategy development, research, facilitation, and training, industry is choosing the right experts to effectively connect with the people that their projects impact the most. For more information, you can visit the firm’s website.