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Q&A: James Snook, Commercial Observer’s 25 Under 35 Honoree

james snook, broker, cushman

James Snook, Cushman & Wakefield

James Snook is a Director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Equity, Debt, and Structured Finance service line, specializing in the hospitality sector. In his role, James is responsible for the marketing of hospitality sales and financing transactions, term sheet and LOI negotiation, and the facilitation of the due diligence/closing processes for transactions. James also completes complex financial and market analyses and investment document preparation for his clients. Throughout his five-year career, James has secured over $2.7 billion of debt and equity in the global hospitality sector. He has arranged $1.5 billion in debt financing and $1.2 billion in equity.

We spoke to James about his recognition on Commercial Observer’s Top Debt & Equity Professionals 25 Under 35 List, his career, and his advice to those starting out in the commercial real estate industry:

What does it mean for you to be on the Commercial Observer’s Top Debt & Equity Professionals 25 Under 35 List?

It is an honor to be recognized, and the recognition is great validation for me that I am on the right track in my career. It is satisfying to have my hard work over the last five years be acknowledged. Many professionals I admire have been featured on this list as well, so to be included in the same circle as them is definitely an accomplishment.

What was a deal that was transformative for your career?

In 2016, we represented Muss Development in the refinancing of the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn, which was an interesting deal to work on due to its complexity. We secured a five-year floating-rate $100 million loan for the 667-key hotel, and the financing was provided by KTB Asset Management, a Korean investment fund. An interesting element of the transaction was that it was KTB Asset Management’s first venture into the Unites States hotel sector.

What do you like most about working for Cushman & Wakefield?

I like that there is an emphasis on collaboration at Cushman & Wakefield, and the inclusionary nature of the firm enabled me to work directly with clients from the very beginning of my career. The Equity, Debt, & Structured Finance (EDSF) Global Hospitality team has offered me access to opportunities that allowed me to develop my career faster, and leadership has provided great mentorship over the last five years.

What do you like about working with hospitality clients?

The most interesting facet of working in hospitality is that it changes on a day-to-day basis. When speaking with real estate professionals who are less familiar with hotels, I like to compare the asset class as if they were to work on a property with daily leases, so the landscape is always changing based on both macro- and microeconomic factors. I also really enjoy interfacing with our clients. Those active in the hospitality industry are very service-oriented, so our interactions with clients tend to be very fun.

Do you have any advice for folks starting out in their CRE career?

Whenever I get asked this question, I like to give three pieces of advice that I wish I was able to give myself when I was first starting out in the industry:

  1. Take an active role in finding a mentor that you can confide in and trust early on in your career. They can be a great source of advice and guidance when you run into a challenging situation because, chances are, they’ve been through it themselves.
  2. Focus on becoming an expert on the markets you are active in. It is incredibly important to know details of your local market and to be able to speak on the commercial real estate trends in the area.
  3. Relax! Getting too stressed only creates a bigger problem. Often times the answers to problems I’ve faced with have hit me when I stepped away and took some time to unwind.
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