Following passions isn’t always an idea associated with bankers, but Larchmont sisters Lara and Emily Casano did just that in founding their niche commercial real estate company in 2013.
Former Wall Street Executives, the sisters had a passion for commercial real estate and left thriving Wall Street careers to build Raem Capital, a commercial real estate advisory firm that specializes in 1031 advisory services.
“We work with real estate law firms and investment sales firms in NYC whose clients are hesitant to sell due to the lack of knowledge of the 1031 exchange [a type of real estate transaction where you can delay payment of taxes for an indefinite amount of time] or they may be on board to sell but do not know where to turn,” say Lara and Emily. “We work as buy-side representation exclusively, meaning that we do not have any listings; we work to identify each of our clients’ specific needs.”
Additionally, the Casanos work with a team (attorneys, mortgage broker, intermediaries) that enables clients to feel confident that they will complete their exchange. Their clients, they explain, “look outside the NYC market for higher-yielding long-term assets, [primarily] in the single-tenant space.”
Their Wall Street backgrounds did help ease the sisters into this niche market, but the Casanos were no strangers to 1031 exchanges, since Lara and Emily had gone through the process personally with family-owned commercial properties.
Essentially, the 1031 exchange serves as a tax deferment vehicle for all clients. Most of the transactions the Casanos advise on range in value between $3 and $12 million, consisting of properties that are often generationally owned, including shopping centers, fast-food locations, drugstores, and supermarkets, among others. In the case of a 1031 exchange, the Casanos have only 45 days to identify a deal and six months to close.
Emily and Lara started Raem to educate commercial real estate owners. Their priority, they say, is the happiness of each and every client: “We’re not just trying to sell [the clients] deals…Our business is 100-percent referral,” Emily explains. The sisters describe their passion for commercial real estate as “organic” after growing up in a family where financial talk was second nature. As owners, their family has a large commercial real estate portfolio themselves, the Casanos experienced firsthand how complicated a 1031 exchange can appear from the outside and how confusing one’s options can be as an owner.
With their combined experience on Wall Street and in the commercial real estate market, it makes sense that the Casanos would be motivated to help others manage their properties and finances securely and with ease. Through their work, current and prior, Lara and Emily have been able to help others avoid mistakes and make the most of their personal portfolios.
The Casanos warn against all the misinformation around 1031 exchanges. For instance, if a property is sold and the proceeds are received by the seller rather then held by a Qualified Intermediary (IQ) the exchange is no longer viable. Another misconception is the timeframe to complete the exchange; a seller has 45-days to identify a new property to purchase and 180-days to close on that property, there are no extensions so the timeframe is very narrow to work within.
With their knowledge of this niche market comes confidence. “When it comes to this exchange, we know we’re well versed and know a lot more than most people,” asserts Lara.
Working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Lara and Emily say they are often the only women in the room during exchanges and commercial real estate conferences. But they have not been daunted. Lara and Emily break this mold themselves — they, not their brother, himself an entrepreneur, help their father with the acquisition and management of their families national real estate portfolio. As the Casanos say, “daughters are the new sons.”