Brian Dorr has a knack for connecting the economic dots to foresee where future opportunities lie.
CONTENT FROM: GLOBE CONTENT STUDIO
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 23, 2022
While on vacation in the summer of 2007, he read about a large French bank defaulting on credit swaps. He thought to himself, “that’s going to be bad.” Months later, in 2008, came the global financial crisis and the impetus that led to the start of Toronto-based Dorr Capital – a unique commercial real estate mortgage finance company that focuses on lending to developers to buy and develop land, as well as syndicating mortgages.
Before 2008, banks were big lenders to land developers and were involved with mortgage syndication. But due to the regulations that emerged from the credit crisis, banks pulled back from that business, leaving a gap for companies like Dorr Capital to fill.
“That was the raison d’être for Dorr Capital,” says Mr. Dorr, the company’s founder, president, and chief executive officer. “That became the first real need for what we are doing.”
Much of his career has been about land: Mr. Dorr has worked for several large Canadian institutional investors financing the purchase of land for development in the residential, commercial and infrastructure sectors.
“I’ve literally worked for every government organization that has anything to do with housing,” he says.
But Mr. Dorr started to feel he was giving more than he was learning at these major institutions and driving much of their businesses.
“I said to myself, ‘I guess I should just have the courage to try this on my own.’”
After 12 years in business, he says Dorr Capital has seen “exceptional” growth.
Revenue rose by nearly 80 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020. Last year, the size of loans grew by 40 per cent and its average loan size was nearly $19-million, with larger deals nearing $200-million. Total loan volume since inception is more than $2-billion. The company has 12 employees, with plans to double its head count the next five years.
Mr. Dorr would also like to expand nationally but says there’s still significant business in his home province, including in many smaller cities.
More recently, Mr. Dorr saw the opportunity to offer average investors the chance to benefit from the development of the multi-unit residential housing boom in Ontario and launched mortgage fund trust RealAlt Investments in 2021. The current monthly stream of interest cash flow to its investors has resulted in returns of about 1 per cent per month, or about 12 per cent annualized.
In the next five years, Mr. Dorr expects RealAlt’s assets under management to grow to $300-million, particularly as investment networks start offering the fund to clients.
The future for both ventures looks bright, says Mr. Dorr, who believes the market will be held up long term by the ongoing shortage of homes driven by changing demographics and as Canada welcomes more immigrants in the coming years.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for a very long time.”