CPE’s Stars to Watch 2019: Legal Mind With a Flair for Funding

Zachary Streit chose real estate finance over law. “Real estate is a super entrepreneurial profession, at least the aspect of it that I currently work in, which I really like,” he said.

Zachary Streit, 37

Senior Vice President, George Smith Partners

Zachary Streit decided he wanted to be in real estate as he studied law, so he approached a top executive at Vornado Real Estate for an internship. Image courtesy of George Smith Partners.
Zachary Streit decided he wanted to be in real estate as he studied law, so he approached a top executive at Vornado Real Estate for an internship. Image courtesy of George Smith Partners

Zachary Streit chose real estate finance over law. “Real estate is a super entrepreneurial profession, at least the aspect of it that I currently work in, which I really like,” he said. “I always thought there was a ton of opportunity in the space.”

Streit has arranged and closed more than half a billion in equity and debt financing deals and underwritten more than $5 billion worth of deals during his 10 years in the business. Last year, Zack and his team secured $115 million in construction financing for a 326-key, four-star Radisson Blu Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. Streit worked with George Smith Partners Principal & Managing Director Malcolm Davies on behalf of developer BPM Real Estate Group.

“It was part of a trend in the Disneyland submarket, where several four-star hotels are being built. Two others are going up right now,” he said. “There’s a notable hole in that submarket, in that space.”

Streit got his first taste of real estate during his high school summer breaks doing maintenance work on the apartment buildings his parents owned in the San Fernando Valley. The experience led him to choose law as a profession and not real estate. But that would change.

“I was in my second year, figuring out what I wanted to do,” Streit said. “I was taking a real estate tax class, and Vornado Realty Trust CFO Joseph Macnow came and lectured in one of our classes. I walked up to him and said: ‘I thought that what you spoke on was really fascinating. Would you consider having me as an intern for the summer?’”

After graduating Cardozo School of Law, Streit pursued a master’s degree in real estate at New York University. A few months in, he obtained his first full-time job in the business at U.K.-based Aviva Investors’ New York office. “I was so lucky to have gotten a job at the end of 2007, when the world was falling off a cliff. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know where I would be. I guess it was grit, determination and a bit of luck,” he added.

He joined George Smith Partners in Los Angeles in 2016. 

Biggest Mentors: His parents, Aric and Mary Streit, and Malcolm Davies, for whom Streit has been working about a year and a half.

Goals for the Future: “My goal is to continue building a book with Malcolm, growing it, helping my clients scale and having fun throughout the process. The rest will fall into place.”

If He Weren’t in Real Estate, He Would Be… a professional tennis player. “I’ve been a sports guy my whole life. I don’t have the athletic, genetic gift, but if I did, I would have loved to be a professional tennis player. Tennis has always been a passion of mine. I inherited it from my father.”

Meet the rest of CPE’s Stars to Watch for 2019—commercial real estate’s top young talent.