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Meet Tim Stevens of CREFCO (CRE Finance Company LLC) in Actually we are out of North Augusta SC, just across the river from Augusta GA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim Stevens.

Tim, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been doing commercial real estate financing for the past 16+ years in one form or another. Originally from the SW Chicago suburbs, I grew up with a father in banking, 2 uncles in banking, and a great uncle who owned a bank. Financing was in my blood before I ever even realized it. After attending Iowa State University for my undergraduate degree (which I actually didn’t go back and finish until 2008/2009 – a semester short when I left school in 1999), I took a job back in Illinois at a local mortgage company doing wholesale residential real estate funding. That’s where I got my start in the spring of 2000. By 2002, my wife and I married that year on the sand of North Myrtle Beach, moved to Georgia where my wife had a job as a horticulturist at Augusta National Golf Club and to warmer climates. Shortly after the move, I took a job for a small Commercial Real Estate lending firm on Hilton Head Island, worked there for about 5 years, was very successful and was even named to the top 40 under 40 list in my industry one time when I was only 30 years old. I moved on from there to become one of the youngest CRE Regional Relationship Managers for SunTrust Bank in late 2007 through March 2009 covering Augusta, Savannah, Statesboro and on down to Brunswick/St. Simon’s Island areas of Georgia……and then the economic crash happened. That year I was already back in school to finish my bachelor’s degree and did so in December 2009. Finishing my degree afforded me the opportunity to get on with 2 different “Agency” debt providers over the course of the next 5 years combined at Alliant Capital (who eventually got bought out and thus my move) then to Greystone all while finishing my MBA in South Carolina. I tell you all that, to tell you this: I knew in 2005, while working in Hilton Head for my manager then and seeing how he did things and ran his own business, that I wanted to do that for myself someday. So I set out on a plan to get the brokerage experience, the bank experience, and finally the direct Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac lender experience to be able to open my own business in May 2015. And that’s how CREFCO was born. I have been in business now for almost 2 1/2 years, closed over $245MM in loan volume, mostly as a single person business, utilizing my previous experience and past relationships to leverage them into loan/debt production to sustain a successful business that I operate today. Due to that success, I’ve now hired in the past year 3 more employees, with plans for a 4th shortly. Since inception, I’ve also become a commercial real estate owner and plan to continue to invest in the footsteps of some of my biggest clients. As their portfolios grow, so do mine. It’s been a great source of pride for me that once I close a deal, I have an 85% repeat client rate on additional business. My company motto is “Personal Service – Proven Results”. And I intend to keep it that way.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The only challenges to date with being self-employed and owning your own business is that contrary to what some people who are not self-employed believe, your company is your life. There aren’t regular office hours. While self-employment offers flexibility on when something might need to get done, it still has to get done whether it’s 2 pm, 10 pm, or 4:30 a.m. You’re constantly thinking about the next thing, the next deal, and even when you’ve had a successful transaction close and the payday arrives, you’re already thinking about the next deal, the next 6 months marketing plan and things of that nature. In the beginning, I’d say the first 6-9 months, figuring out the schedule, timing, and executing the business plan were the most difficult because in my business, if you’re not closing business, you’re not getting a paycheck.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about CREFCO (CRE Finance Company LLC) – what should we know?
My company, CREFCO – www.crefcompany.com – provides commercial real estate financing for commercial real estate property, nationwide, from $1MM minimum loan amounts to a maximum of $100MM. Although in my company, we specialize is small balance loans for most transactions. I’ve been so successful because I am willing to take on the challenge of getting deals done in smaller markets such as Athens, Augusta, Savannah, Statesboro, Milledgeville, and Columbus as far as in the state of GA. I very rarely get a shot at business in the Atlanta metro area as there are so many companies after the same business it becomes cost prohibitive to go after it. I’m happy doing the deals I specialize in and the clients typically are very appreciative that someone like me and my company is out there to help in markets where some may not think it ideal to do business. I am becoming known for this type of business very quickly. What sets my company apart, and I tell people I come in contact with on debt transactions all the time is – why would you go to 8 financial sources yourself, one at a time, and get told no or worse yet, get told yes, but by the first or second option, take the deal, only to find out you could have had a better deal elsewhere? My company is a correspondent for Apartment/Multi-Family property lending with 4 different “Agency” lending institutions, 4 different “CMBS/LIFE” companies, and one very successful SBA source for owner-occupied businesses. The readers of your magazine might be most interested in and can always call me for financing on their businesses in which they own the real estate, I have fantastic nationwide program options for those types of debt transactions and close them pretty quickly in most cases.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Personal Service. I get told all the time how much clients appreciate just getting a timely response. Unless I note that I’m not available, I try to get back to all emails within 4 hours, review new transaction requests in 24 hours, and return all phone calls within 1 business day. That level of attention and responsiveness is what I get comments about all the time. I’ve heard so many say about other companies or the competition, “well, I called him or her last week, but haven’t heard from him or her yet”. What are those people waiting for!?!!?! Business is walking out your door because you don’t have 2 minutes to make a phone call? That will never be an issue at my company. The other thing I pride myself on, is for every transaction I do, at some point during the transaction, whether at or near application, or on closing day, I make an effort to go see or meet the clients face to face, have lunch, dinner, or play some golf or something like that. The personal attention has gotten lost in the digital age and my clientele I think appreciates that I actually give them some attention more than anything else.

Contact Info:

  • Address: P. O. Box 7036
    North Augusta, SC 29861
  • Website: www.crefcompany.com
  • Phone: 815-388-2556
  • Email: tim@crefcompany.com

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Image Credit:
George Bush

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