Red Oak Financial, a Michigan-based commercial real estate finance company, has hired three new commercial real estate finance professionals, including Jim Giovanni as commercial real estate loan underwriter, Desiree Gruer as manager of loan administration, and Nicholas Schroeder as commercial real estate loan analyst. The firm also reported the opening of a new office in Irvine, California, where the new hires will be based.

“Red Oak’s expansion into California is aligned with client demand for a capital partner on the West Coast that can deliver bridge lending options across the country,” said Gary Bechtel, Red Oak’s chief executive officer, who will be based in the new Irvine office. “We continue to build Red Oak into a leading national commercial real estate finance platform. That is being accomplished by building a team of experienced lenders that can identify and deliver financing requested by high quality sponsors and their intermediaries in key U.S. markets.”

Gruer will serve as a manager of loan administration where she will specialize in the loan closing process. She began her career more than 10 years ago as a transactional real estate attorney, and has represented private borrowers, lenders and mortgage servicers closing complicated real estate transactions including workouts and foreclosures. Additionally, her experience in commercial real estate includes positions in the legal department of American Homes 4 Rent, as well as roles with NorthMarq Capital and Money360.

Giovanni will serve as a commercial real estate loan underwriter and is responsible for evaluating loan opportunities nationally from the time a borrower executes the term sheet through closing. This includes due diligence on the real estate collateral securing the proposed loan, sponsor capabilities, the market the asset is located and the adequacy of the loan structure of the transaction and/or relationship.

Giovanni brings nearly a decade of experience in corporate banking, commercial real estate, and investment banking; syndication loans/asset-based lending; and mergers and acquisitions in mid-cap to large-cap multinational corporations. His most recent role was as a senior relationship manager at Wells Fargo, where he started his commercial real estate finance career in 2012. During two stints with the bank, he managed a portfolio of $450 million in commercial real estate loans across multiple asset types and he also sourced and underwrote $325 million in real estate transactions with loans ranging from $45 million to $150 million.

Schroeder, a recent USC graduate who will serve as a commercial real estate loan analyst, will be responsible for document collection, review and analysis in support of loan originators and underwriters. Primary duties include reviewing preliminary loan submissions for the purpose analyzing the strength of borrowers and commercial real estate offered as collateral, assisting underwriters to make lending decisions, and preparing credit authorization documents.

Schroeder has worked with companies such as Colliers International, Kennedy Wilson, PeerStreet, and Consolidated Analytics. He has served in roles including a due diligence underwriter and real estate analyst.

Other recent additions to the Red Oak Financial team include San Francisco-based David Christensen, regional manager of the northwest, and Texas-based Nicolas Jans, regional manager. Red Oak Capital also recently added Omar Limon as vice president of internal sales, who is based in the new Irvine office.

Red Oak Capital Holdings LLC is a family of commercial real estate finance and investment companies that includes Red Oak Financial, Red Oak Holdings Management, and Red Oak Capital GP.

Red Oak Financial originates, short-term commercial real estate loans for sponsors seeking $1 million to $15 million of debt financing. The firm works with banks, private lenders, mortgage bankers and brokers and other sources and has underwritten more than $5 billion in commercial assets the past 10 years. Its lending relationships include private capital, institutional investors and financial companies.

Red Oak Capital GP is an affiliated investment company that is focused on raising capital through the issuance of securities through the independent broker-dealers and registered investment advisor channels, family offices, insurance companies, pension funds and private high-net-worth investors.

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