ADVANTAGE BUILDER: JEFF HURLEY

In the late 1980s, the real estate market was in turmoil. A decade of easy finance and overbuilding had led to a collapse in prices. More than 1,100 commercial banks had failed or received government assistance. It wasn’t exactly an ideal time to enter the commercial real estate business. But in 1989, with the ink still wet on his college diploma, Jeff Hurley took a job as a loan servicer.

Sometimes what looks like the worst timing in the world can turn out to be the best. “Starting during the downturn helped me, because it allowed me to build relationships,” said Hurley, who is now Senior Managing Director of Multifamily Operations for CBRE Capital Markets.

A LEADING ROLE

Hurley grew up in Spokane, Washington, with an older and younger sister. He was a voracious reader of outdoor adventure books and fantasy novels. “I was in the library club in elementary school and the chess club—I was that much of a geek,” he joked. “But that’s always been my strength—I can read and understand things very quickly.” He has warm memories of childhood vacations to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle, and camping on the Pacific Coast in the family’s motor home.

As a teen, Hurley got involved in a Masonic Order for young men, which included social events and volunteer work, and stressed character, service and leadership. “My parents divorced and my dad moved away and I didn’t have a father figure close to me,” he recalled. “Having male friends who got together on weekly basis and acted as mentors had a big influence on me.” At age 13, Hurley began doing formal public speaking in Masonic competitions. He sang in high school choirs and won a part in the high school play, The Pajama Game. “My role was the factory owner—he was the one everyone was fighting against,” he laughed.

That clearly wasn’t a case of typecasting, considering Hurley’s rapport with his team today.

“One of my strengths is the relationship I have with my employees. I trust them and they trust me, and I always have their back,” he said. “The team I’ve built is amazing. We have literally zero turnover in our group.”

“One of my strengths is the relationship I have with my employees. I trust them and they trust me, and I always have their back.”

PERSISTENCE AND PERSEVERANCE

So back to 1989: With the U.S. moving into recession, Hurley moved to L.A., where his father lived and jobs were more plentiful. He answered an ad in the newspaper for the loan servicing job at what was then known as Coldwell Banker Commercial, contacting clients and making sure payments were collected.

“The pay wasn’t great, but at least it was a job in a real office,” Hurley said. “A lot of my friends were working at car rental companies and the like. I had to work two other jobs on evenings and weekends for three years before I could make it on my salary in Los Angeles. I worked as a waiter and in a clothing store selling shirts and ties.”

At the time, Brian Stoffers, who oversees Debt & Structured Finance at CBRE, was a loan producer and took Hurley and others on the team under his wing. “It was unheard of for someone in the servicing world to meet clients, but Brian recognized that I could help with those relationships,” Hurley said. “We were encouraged to dig in and advocate for clients, understand their real estate and business needs, and bring a higher touch to our positions than the typical servicer would.”

DOES IT ALL

In the first few years of his career, Hurley was in the trenches, negotiating workouts and solving bankruptcy issues. “That ended up being a huge part of my career growth, since our relationships were stronger and deeper with borrowers and lenders,” he explained.

In 1996, CBRE purchased LJ Melody in Houston and Hurley relocated. In 1998, he began working in the loan closing group; coordinating the closing of CMBS and then, primarily, Freddie Mac loans on behalf of the company. Unlike other debt platforms in the Company, CBRE is truly the Lender in the Freddie Mac program; issuing applications and commitments, handling the rate lock, and then packaging and delivering the loans to Freddie Mac after closing. “I dedicated myself to knowing the program inside and out,” Hurley said.

The attention to detail paid off. In just four years, Hurley and his team had increased loan volume more than six-fold to $1 billion from $154 million. CBRE has been the number one seller/servicer for the last seven years. Today Hurley’s team of 23 handles $14 billion a year in loans for both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The company is not only the leading Freddie Mac servicer but has the highest quality ratings. In recognition of his high performance, Hurley received the “Does It All” award from Freddie Mac at a recent conference.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES, SAME DEDICATION

Just over two years ago, Hurley was instrumental in launching a Freddie Mac small balance loan business (SBL) and by mid-2017 CBRE was the number one lender in that market. “To be successful in this business you have to have that desire to be number one,” said Hurley. “I think people see our passion and dedication and desire to please our clients. Our closers actually get flowers from clients after closing.”

“I think people see our passion and dedication and desire to please our clients.”

Last spring, Hurley and his team won the Gary Beban Teamwork award. “The acknowledgement of our dedication and what we contributed to the company was the highlight of my career,” he said. “I’ve been extremely lucky to be with CBRE for so long. In the normal course of your career you get to a point where you feel like you’re not being challenged anymore. Every single time in last 29 years that’s happened, some new challenge or opportunity has come about.”

Outside of work, Hurley travels and skis with his wife and 12-year-old twins, and vacations in Nova Scotia, where his wife has family. And he’s still a voracious reader. “I would recommend that ‘Game of Thrones’ fans out there go back and read the books,” he said. “There’s always so much more in the books than there can be in a TV series.”

And, he added with a laugh. “Commercial real estate lending is not quite that cut throat, fortunately.”

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