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One-On-One With RealtyMogul's Chief Investment Officer

Los Angeles-based RealtyMogul has dropped the interim tag and made Chris Fraley its chief investment officer, the company announced Wednesday.

Fraley, who oversees the real estate investing platform giant’s debt and equity investments, will remain to guide the company in achieving its 2018 goals.

One of the speakers, RealtyMogul Chief Investment Officer Chris Fraley with his husband, Victor, and daughters Coco and Kiki

RealtyMogul CEO and co-founder Jilliene Helman cited Fraley’s track record of sourcing transactions, negotiating complex joint ventures and managing real estate assets as reasons the company kept him on board.

“His extensive knowledge and institutional experience in commercial real estate has been a tremendous asset to the team,” Helman said in a news release. “We’re excited to have him join us full-time.” 

Fraley joined the company in June. He oversees credit and asset management for the company’s debt and equity investments.

A Yale University graduate, Fraley has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. He once served as a partner at Rockwood Capital before forming his own real estate investment company, Evolve.

“Once I saw the advanced technology and processes in place, I knew that I wanted to join the team in a greater capacity,” Fraley said in the news release.

“RealtyMogul closed transactions with over $566M in total capitalization in 2017,” he said. “It is remarkable to see how fast the organization has grown, and I believe it is poised to scale further in 2018.” 

Founded in 2013, RealtyMogul has closed transactions with over $1.4B in total capitalization since its launch. 

Bisnow spoke with Fraley about his long-term goals with the company.

Bisnow: How many times has someone misread your last name and called you Chris Farley, the late comedian? Do you have anything in common with Chris Farley?

Fraley: The day Chris Farley passed away in the mid-'90s, I was working for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. When I walked in the office, I got stares of confusion and joy because rumors had flown through the office that I had died of a drug overdose. 

Bisnow: Generally speaking, talk about the current commercial real estate climate and how does RealtyMogul fit in today's market?

Fraley: There is certainly a feeling that we are at the top of the cycle given this is one of the longest economic expansions in the past century, from a time perspective. It is a relief that RealtyMogul has taken a fairly conservative approach by focusing mainly on income investments and light value-add and avoiding traditionally riskier assets like land, hotels and development.

Bisnow: You were RealtyMogul's interim chief investment officer last year. Talk about how the company did last year and why did you want to make this position permanent? 

Fraley: I did not expect to take on a full-time role when I joined RealtyMogul. A few months after getting to know the team and advanced processes, I realized this was an incredible opportunity to be on the leadership team of an industry disruptor, and it was too great an opportunity to pass up.

I am also a bit of a research geek having been head of research for Rockwood. I became excited by the incredible access to research and data, and the company’s focus on marrying it with technology.  

2017 was a great year for RealtyMogul. It broke many internal company records and closed transactions with $566M in total capitalization. I think we can significantly increase that number this year.

Bisnow: What are your future plans for RealtyMogul? 

Fraley: I will be leading the asset management function internally, which is also one of my passions. RealtyMogul already has a strong team, but I hope to build the best team in our market and differentiate us from other direct investing platforms.

Bisnow: You owned your own real estate business for five years. What did you learn from that experience that you still carry over in your role as chief investment officer? 

Fraley: Being on the operator side of the business really helped me appreciate all the hard work that goes into managing a real estate project. It has certainly given me greater insight on how to evaluate a potential operating partner as an investor.

Bisnow: In one of your Q&A's, you mentioned your sexual orientation. As an openly gay man in the commercial real estate industry, do you believe you still face obstacles? How do you overcome those obstacles? 

Fraley: According to a recent Harris Poll conducted in conjunction with GLAAD, about one-third of Americans are uncomfortable with an openly LGBT CEO and even seeing a photograph of a same-sex couple on someone’s desk, a statistic that does not vary by geographic region. I know there is significant bias out there, but I just try to do the best job I can to make my kids proud and not focus too much on the negativity.