Bill Owens, chairman and CEO of Owens Realty Mortgage, Inc. (NYSE: ORM), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.
Owens Realty Mortgage invests in and manages middle-market commercial real estate mortgage loans, primarily in the western U.S., with a focus on unconventional loans that require speed and flexibility.
Owens said the company is in a period of transition as it shifts from its original structure as a public partnership into a publicly traded Mortgage REIT. Owens Realty completed a reorganization into a publically-traded REIT in May 2013. Its predecessor, Owens Mortgage Investment Fund, was formed in 1983.
During the next 24 months, Owens said the company will divest its major assets, consisting of multifamily and other properties located in Arizona and California, and utilize that capital for lending.
In terms of opportunities in the lending market, Owens said the company’s expertise and competitive advantage lies in its ability to close loans quickly.
“We compete with other lending institutions which may not have the ability to close as quickly as we do. The banks are hampered today because of the regulatory environment, which makes the opportunity for institutions that can close loans quickly much greater than it has been in the past,” he said.
Looking past the company’s current transition process, Owens expressed optimism for the company’s long-term prospects.
“We don’t have lot of concerns now because we feel that the economy has been put through the wringer the last five years and we’re quite optimistic that commercial real estate on the West Coast is improving dramatically,” he said.