Residential Magazine

Featured Top Originator: Christian Groomes, Lima One Capital

By Hannah Darden

Christian Groomes is not your typical mortgage originator. He works in the private lending space, financing deals for real estate investors that others cannot. And at only 27 years old, he’s closing hundreds of deals per year. In 2022 alone, he originated 464 loans with a total volume of nearly $163 million.

Like many other originators, however, Groomes had no idea he was going to work in mortgages. A college football player, he graduated from Clemson University and moved to Greenville, South Carolina. He was working a job in customer service when friends he’d met at his CrossFit gym told him about an opening in their underwriting department.

“The borrower profile we deal with most likely could not qualify at a normal bank. That is how and why this industry was created.”

“I had no clue what underwriting was,” Groomes said. “But they told me to send in my resume. … I got an interview with the head of underwriting. A few minutes in, they essentially asked to cancel the interview and I thought, ‘This is not good.’”

But the underwriting department wasn’t rejecting Groomes. Instead, they said he’d be a better fit for sales. A few weeks later, he accepted the job. Five years later, Groomes now finances a variety of different deals on a multitude of property types. He funds fix-and-flip projects for first-time and veteran investors alike, as well as companies that flip hundreds of homes per year. He also funds the purchases of investment properties big and small that are set to become rentals. But his favorite deals involve new construction and build-to-rent properties.

His company, Lima One Capital, provides financing for the vertical construction — the sticks and bricks — of these properties. Once they’re built, instead of being sold, the assets are held and rented to long-term tenants. Many of these projects are townhomes or attached single-family properties. “Between me and my team here, I think we genuinely have the best minds when it comes to these projects in terms of deal structuring and also being able to execute,” Groomes said. “It’s up and coming right now in this market. They are really cool projects.”

Groomes’ clients are as unique as the properties he finances. For many of these people, real estate investing is their full-time job. “It’s night and day, the types of borrowers we’re dealing with. I can’t speak the language a conventional originator would speak; it’s completely different,” Groomes said. “The borrower profile we deal with most likely could not qualify at a normal bank. That is how and why this industry was created.”

Because Groomes works in asset-based lending, his team doesn’t look at W-2 tax returns or pay stubs. Instead, his team focuses on the borrower’s credit, the value of the property and other assets, along with other factors that make the property a good investment. Groomes said 2023 has gotten off to a “cautiously optimistic” start. Deals are still happening, but investors are being careful. While the mortgage environment is changing, Groomes said he hasn’t really needed to make a huge shift in his approach to business.

His immediate team is a big part of that, and Groomes said they deserve much of the credit for his loan volume. He works with his “right-hand man,” former Clemson teammate and best friend Greg Huegel, and senior production analyst Marguerite Barr, whom Groomes calls the “unspoken MVP” of the team. Together, they provide a level of service that separates them from the rest of the dealmakers out there, Groomes said.

“When investors come and need or want a loan, the rate plays a part, but ultimately they’re going to come get a loan because of the process, the team we have in place here,” he said. ●

Tips of the Trade

You can’t give up; you can’t quit. There’s always going to be another deal. Right now, when the going is tough, keep going. We’re not going to close every deal or we’d all be rock stars. Push through this market — whether that’s a year or two or three — keep your head down, keep swinging the hammer and get through. And remember, private lending teams can be a great resource for originators with clients who need options above and beyond the scope of traditional products.


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