Where We Are Now: June 4, 2020

Work From Home — Day 76

The Beginning of Our Journey – Setbacks Hurt!

5:15AM PST

Team –

It was January 2009 when I found out Pacific Union was for sale. GMAC had acquired Pacific Union in 2000 and Brookfield, Toronto, Canada had acquired GMAC Real Estate Services in the Fall of 2008. GMAC was a seller, as in the 2007 subprime mortgage meltdown, GMAC was the #1 lender in US sub-prime mortgages. Not a pretty picture.

Word on the street was Brookfield had bought GMAC Home Services wholesale and would spin the six brokerage companies/assets out retail. Pacific Union to be one of the assets on the “auction block.” In the dark winter of 2009, I was intrigued.

I called my Morgan Lane partners Jill & Mike Silvas and Linda & David Carroll to discuss. Mike’s brother is Mark Dilbeck, President, Dilbeck Real Estate, 15 offices in Southern California, which was a GMAC franchise. Mark had great advice and the right contacts at Brookfield.

We were successful in getting the Pacific Union offering memorandum in late January 2009. I spent an entire weekend held up [kind of like SIP] in our Squaw Valley USA home drilling into the offering memorandum and BrokerMetrics understanding many of the moving parts of Pacific Union.

I believe I was credible in my first conversation with Brookfield shortly after this weekend of research. They dispatched two talented MBAs to meet with Mike Silvas and me at Kincaid’s – a restaurant near SFO. Were we their only meeting? Who else did they meet with?

At lunch, it seemed we knew more about Pacific Union from our research than these two talented MBAs knew.

A few short days later I got a call from Brookfield. Two senior executives would like to come and visit with me on March 17, 2009. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day. One executive was Dave Lacey. More on Dave later, but he is 100 percent part of my professional growth in life.

We are a company of 24 people. Our largest conference room is 8’ X 8’ in Kentfield, CA. We are trying to buy Pacific Union with 400 people and 17 offices. No one in Toronto, Canada knows how to get to Kentfield, CA and candidly does not want to drive to Marin County.

I pick up my phone and call Kent Ledbetter, Vice Chairman, JMP Securities, who I became friendly with during my tour at LoopNet.com [NASDAQ: CSGP]. Kent, I need a favor. Can I borrow your conference room March 17, 2009 from 1PM to 3 PM?

By the way, it’s on the 11th floor of the Transamerica building and seats twelve easily. Different from Kentfield, CA at 8’ X 8’.

Kent calls back to confirm and says, “What is the meeting for?” In confidence, I shared that I was trying to buy Pacific Union. Kent responds, “You mind if I join the meeting? I’ll let them know our investment banking firm has your back in financing the trade.” Answer, “Yes, please join.”

March 17, 2009 enter Dave Lacey plus another Brookfield executive on 11th floor of Transamerica building in a “boardroom” with sick views. Dave’s hobby at the time was as a race car driver. The hobby comes across in his personality immediately. Fast, intense, focused, and competitive.

It was very clear to Dave that from our research, strategy, and action plan that we would resurrect Pacific Union to a San Francisco Bay Area powerhouse.

About 90 minutes into the conversation, I said to Dave “I want to buy Pacific Union and return it to its boutique local roots. I want to bring Pacific Union home. Would you [Brookfield] lend me the money to buy Pacific Union?”

 What I heard in Dave’s response was “No.” All parties exchanged niceties and we parted ways.

After Dave left, Kent and I collected back in the conference room.

Kent: “Did you hear what Dave said?” I replied of course, he said NO.

Kent, “You were not listening after NO. Dave said we will not lend you the money, but we want an offer from you to buy Pacific Union.”

Stay tuned.

This is Where We Are Now



Mark A McLaughlin

Work From Home — Day 76 — Closing Bell

Business is rocking!

4:55PM PST

Team – 

No hyperbole or story telling required – this team is firing on all cylinders.

We are now expecting 900 closings in June. As perspective June 2019 was 885 and June 2018 was 1012.

July is now building at a rapid pace. If you have a seller, now is the time we need inventory.

This is Where We Are Now.



Mark A McLaughlin

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