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‘Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Deals’: Cortland’s Bruce Cohen At Bisnow's Premium Multifamily Summit

Bruce Cohen, senior managing partner at Cortland

The biggest names in multifamily real estate will meet to discuss the state of the industry in the Southeast at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference Sept. 10. Speakers will offer their take on national CRE trends, the challenges surrounding affordable and workforce housing and how upticks in job and population growth continue to make Atlanta a hot spot for multifamily development. Register here for the event. 

For 30 years, Bruce Cohen lived on the capital side of the real estate world. As founder and CEO of Wrightwood Capital and senior partner at Ares Commercial Real Estate, Cohen worked to establish investment strategies with a highly diverse range of investors and operators. Now, he has made the decision to move to the other side of the industry and bring his expertise to just one operator — multifamily developer Cortland. 

“We are moving toward a more muted return environment and people are going to have to generate alpha by doing something different,” Cohen said. “I believe that the operators who acquire properties and create value are going to be the ones creating that alpha.” 

Cohen is now senior managing partner at Cortland in Atlanta, leading a variety of growth initiatives in capital management and product expansion. He spoke with Bisnow about the state of CRE and what he will be discussing at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference Sept. 10.

Bisnow: Why is the Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference important to you and what will you be speaking about?

Bruce Cohen: I’ve watched Bisnow since its inception, and you’ve always had an element of fun at these events mixed in with cutting-edge thought leadership, interesting attendees and engaging panels. You ask the right questions, and I’ve always come away learning more about the people involved and the way they think. 

I’m speaking on the “National Trends, Southeast Takeaways” panel. I’ll convey our outlook on marketplace trends as well as how people are reacting to a more competitive environment with more muted returns. 

Bisnow: Why did you choose to work with Cortland after 30 years on the capital side?

Bruce Cohen: After I left Ares, I spent more than two years focused on a strategy of investing in real estate operating platforms. I spoke with over 300 firms and I found that Cortland’s focus on creating value for their residents and its decision to build a platform of 2,000 associates set it apart from the others. 

Now, I work with the Cortland capital team to support all of the firm’s capital-raising efforts with respect to both our joint ventures and our discretionary vehicles, and I work with Cortland’s leadership on our strategic initiatives. 

Bisnow: What is the most pressing issue affecting commercial real estate at this time?

Bruce Cohen: I believe that there is too much money chasing too few deals. Multifamily assets have become highly attractive to investors, particularly in the Southeast and Southwestern parts of the U.S., as well as in suburban areas as capital rotates away from core cities. The asset class has been discovered, allocations are increasing, and this has led to a flood of capital chasing all the assets in our markets. 

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Bruce Cohen: I’m passionate about life. I view it as a buffet, you should try as many things as you can, try not to overindulge and make sure you make the most of your time here. 

Bruce Cohen will be speaking on the National Trends and Southeast Takeaways Panel at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference on Sept. 10.