In its five-year existence, Adelaer has become a successful financial architect of real estate portfolios in the Netherlands. As one of the first major debt brokers, it has also sought financiers from outside the banking world. In the meantime, their activities have expanded considerably. “We also function as an intermediary platform, rather than just a financier,” says Daan Reeker’s, founder and Chief Commercial Officer at Adelaer.
The models and posters of old-timers in Daan Reekers’ workroom are reminders of his greatest hobby: Classic rally driving. It’s with that hobby that Adelaer’s history begins. The creation of the company tells a unique story that in particular characterises the perseverance of its founder. Reekers ran a successful mortgage advice company for many years, before later expanding it with real estate development. Until the financial crisis brought him to the edge of bankruptcy. At the time the curtain fell for his business, Reekers was organising a classic rally in Den Bosch.
“I drove that rally every year, yet in 2011 I lacked the financial resources to compete. In order to still be able to drive, I decided to organise my own rally in my hometown. I really needed it, as it was a perfect way to get rid of my stress and anxiety. When participants heard about my situation after the rally, they joined forces and said: “If you are able to organise such a great event in such a short time, you must have far more to offer us!” So, classic rallies are an important business event; it’s usually the very wealthy that partake in them. These people supported me in collecting the start-up capital to establish Adelaer.”
With 21 employees, thirteen of whom are independent consultants, Adelaer is a relatively small company in terms of staff members. But considered it has already raised nearly two billion euros in real estate funding, it’s one of the largest real estate agents in the country. Reekers: “As a debt broker you have to come up with creative ways to enable these projects. More and more often, we work together with foreign financiers. Since April 2019, Adelaer also established its own Capital Market department; a brokerage branch exclusively for, by, and with our own customers. It’s a platform that stimulates interaction between our existing customers, a fine example of cross-pollination at the highest level. As one customer might want to sell off part of his assets, this can represent a new financing opportunity for the client. In this way, we bring different parties together – completely independently.”
WHAT WAS ADELAER’S FOCUS DURING ITS FIRST YEARS?
“It was quite the search. We weren’t active in real estate financing back then. I focused on complexity advice with Aegon as my main customer. In 2014, Syntrus Achmea REF’s senior management approached me, asking if I could invest some funds for them as a broker. That’s how I arranged my first transaction for a pension funds for them with my first clients in Maastricht. This deal would form the basis of Adelaer as a debt broker for commercial real estate financing. For the first time since the financial crisis, I saw the light again.”
WHAT DO YOU FIND THE MOST INTERESTING ABOUT REAL ESTATE?
“To actively consider the future of cities and regions at an early stage, as you have to think ahead in order to realise such projects financially. We call ourselves “financial architects” for good reason. As our website states: “It may look as if nothing has happened yet, but we’ve already laid the foundations.” We help a lot of project developers with forward funding, mezzanine and junior lending. A developer needs to have his financing in order long before the permits are received. Although difficult at times, we strive to make every deal a reality. We like to tackle problems, work on creative solutions, and make dreams come true. In the end, the right project or investment financing will always follow.”
DO YOU MANAGE TO GET ALL OF YOUR PROJECTS FINANCED?
“If we don’t succeed, no one else will! There are plenty of parties who finance at a higher risk profile, at higher interest rates. We also like to work with Dutch banks. Yet due to of all kinds of regulations, they can no longer finance as much as they could before. Still they are considered to be the perfect project financiers, because they know the market better than anyone else. Foreign investors are more willing to provide long-term loans. You must ascertain which party offers the most favourable conditions for which project. That is makes real estate financing a true profession. You’re not just involved with the bank, and you also must not solely look at the level of interest. Simply put, terms and conditions are way more important.”
“The Netherlands is a great country to invest in”
HOW DOES ADELAER PROVIDE ADDED VALUE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS?
“The Dutch real estate market is very interesting for foreign investors. We see many parties from the US and Asia willing to join our client base. They are looking for exposure in euros. That is why we invest in our international positioning. The Netherlands is attractive to invest in because of our high-quality legal real estate and our high payment morality. We present Adelaer as an all-round platform for acquisition (Capital Market), finance (Financial Architects) and, if necessary, as manager of these assets (Asset Management). Combined, our thirteen advisors have two hundred years of experience in real estate! There is no stone in the Netherlands that we haven’t heard about. Hence we are the eyes and ears of foreign investors. We have our feet in the clay and, thanks to our five offices throughout the country, we have a great feel for the market.”
AND FOR YOUR OWN CLIENTELE?
“When we started off, we were the odd man out there. Since then, more debt brokers emerged on the Dutch market. But we handle more than just finance. We focus on what the customer needs and are therefore increasingly a intermediary platform. There are many opportunities for that. Customers we’ve helped finance projects are likely to sell to another affiliated party afterwards. We only work for, by, and with our own customers. We are therefore not a standard real estate agent for sales either. The one fits the other, and so the circle goes round. For example, we have just sold two properties for Goldman Sachs to one of our developing customers. We call that “reciprocity”. Adelaer is a typical example of “together we stand strong”. Our company is a platform of independent professionals and is therefore very entrepreneurial. That’s how we grew up.”
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET?
“In general, we’re doing quite well in the Netherlands. The real estate crisis has lasted a very long time. And although we have only just recovered, immediately we hear about an “over-stressed housing market”. The solution lies in “micro-living”, smaller apartments designed for different target groups, such as students, young professionals, seniors and migrants. Internationally, this is already a fully-fledged investment market for many insurers. That will also be the case in our country. I find the rising construction costs worrying, yet the biggest threat is government legislation and the speed at which circumstances change. As a sector, we’ll have to meet the real estate needs of the Netherlands in conjunction with the government.”
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT?
“During the crisis, many vacant offices were converted into apartment complexes. Now, there is a threat of office deficit. The approaching Brexit in particular has made the Netherlands more attractive as a location for large companies. The government encourages that in its 2020 business perspective. What are your plans for 2020? What do you want to achieve and how are you going to do that? For us, it means an expansion at Financial Architects. We will be opening a second branch abroad. In addition to the current London location, we also want to open one in Germany. In the Netherlands, we’ll also establish an office in Utrecht. Capital Market will be expanded with two advisors per January. The biggest challenge? Team building. To put the right people in the right place.”
YOU’VE GONE THROUGH SOME HARD TIMES. HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK ON THOSE?
“If you’re stuck, you have to be willing to do things completely different than you did before. With two young children and a third on the way, it was certainly not an easy time. Fortunately, I had a strong woman by my side who was willing to live in a small flat if necessary. At the same time I have noticed that the greatest form of creativity arises during those difficult periods. Although I had to fight hard, it also gave me a lot of energy. I was also lucky with my hobby, which gives me a lot of energy, as well as keeping our clients satisfied.”
“Adelaer is a perfect example of “together we stand strong””
BIGGEST LESSON OF 2019, DAAN REEKERS, ADELAER
“Never assume that something goes smoothly and do not conclude that you’ll reach your goal quickly. Think three steps ahead and stay alert. There are many more hurdles on your journey than you expect. These can be governmental or socio-economic circumstances; or the sentiment of a bank manager of which you have no control over. The lines must be clearly defined and you must always keep communicating, then your goal will more likely be achieved. At Adelaer we speak of the so-called “Daankracht”: setting your mind to something and not letting go! In addition to facilitating office space, we must also ensure that there is enough to accommodate those ten-thousands of employees. And there already is such a shortage, so you have to put everything in a much broader perspective and work better together to bring speed to the process. There are good reasons to why we find ourselves once again in an overstrained housing market so soon after the crisis. Due to the nitrogen and PFAS issues, construction is stagnating again. But our purchasing power is also stagnating. Dutch incomes lag behind internationally and there is an unequal growth. Where large international companies present good figures, the Dutch employee benefits very little from that. This must be turned into a more healthy relationship.”
“In the Netherlands, there isn’t a single stone that we haven’t heard about.”
BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE ON 2019
Never assume that a deal is easily made. It always takes longer than you expected.
What grade would you give 2019?
Most precious moment
Earning a first place in the top 100 “real estate networker of the year 2019”
The buy-out of our existing shareholders: I am proud that they wanted to help me with the start-up and would have liked to keep their personalities around. But I am even more proud that we are now doing things 100% independently
Beste zakenlunch of diner
Every closing dinner is special, certainly with a diversity in banks and countries. I recently discovered that have worked with eleven different foreign parties during our last fifteen deals.
Farthest business trip
We travel from Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich to London, but New York is also on the agenda now.
The refinancing of High Tech Campus in Eindhoven in 2015. This opportunity has been exploited and awarded; it represented the start of Adelaer in its current form. I am still grateful to Mr. Boekhoorn, Neggers and Smolders!
Most beautiful city
Den Bosch, the gem of the Brabant province and home to Adelaer’s HQ.
Top 3 projects
The opening of new Adelaer offices in London, Maastricht and Rotterdam. Not to mention Utrecht in January!
Most remarkable news
The arrival of a lot of equity from South Korea to invest in Dutch real estate.
Jeroen Bosch Rally. Classic rallies are the ultimate means of relaxation, enjoyment and also business networking
The attitude of the Dutch government to want to be the best in everything has catastrophic effects on our industry. Such as with the nitrogen problem and PFAS soil contamination; think first, then take action!
See: biggest irritation.
Best new retail concept
The conversion of department stores into flexible office spaces, resi, retail and supermarkets: together these fulfil the needs of many inner cities.
Buying out my shareholders with the best interests of Adelaer in mind
App used the most
Greatest spontaneous gettogether
Frits v. Eerd during the Knokke Zoute Rally. I have enormous respect for what he does with Giedo vd Garde and Nyck de Vries in the LMP2 Class. Hopefully they’ll become the winners of LeMans in 2020!
Knokke Zoute Rally
Most interesting LinkedIn message
10,194 views on my profile in one day, based on the news ”real estate networker of the year 2019″. Unbelievable what an impact and how this social medium works
Real estate man of the year
That’s a difficult one. Too many clients of Adelaer are great!
Real estate woman of the year
Chairwoman Claudia van Haeften of real estate society, a great xample of good networking.
Talent of the year
Shehan Sardar, MS Real Estate
Shell coffee. Not the Starbucks version, but the one at the bread counter
Best food concept
Noble Kitchen; a renowned restaurant accessible to everyone on the most beautiful golf course in the Netherlands: Bernardus in Cromvoirt. What an asset for our country!
PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS 2019
Most valuable lesson of 2019
Spend more time with the kids, and more quality time with my wife. It’s because of her that I can truly excel.
What grade would you give 2019?
Best Netflix series
Highlight in sports
Winning a tulip with my vintage car in the sport class of the Tulip Rally
Driving a rally and going to Knokke with my family
The French landscape and Andorra area
Being physically active while not losing much weight
There is much more to gain from life if you plan things wisely
The trailer that transports my car
Ibiza. As it rained in Knokke, we traveled to Ibiza. I had never been there. It’s a beautiful island!
Haven’t seen that many, unfortunately
’t Misverstant. Went there with my wife on a Friday evening. It was amazing!
Dies 6 december
Fun city trip
Amsterdam with foreign investors
School of Rock in London with my 12-year old son
That’s a difficult one… I think Phil Collins
Your Song – Elton John
Wind sailing. A catamaran on the sea is always impressive.
Strolling through the woods
The passing away of the two fathers of my best friends, whom I regarded as great inspirations. It was strange to realise that these men were mortal too…
Listening to new, musical talent
In every way, 2019 was an unforgettable year, both on a business and private level
The drive of my kids
Turbo, our new cat
Boris Kwantes, who recently killed me on the mountainbike
My former shareholders and my wife
Sentiment. It usually leads to a crisis when you’re not sticking to the facts
I’m a privileged human being for witnessing all of this
A fresh herring
And friend, John Groenewoud
’t Misverstant, Thijs Vis is simply the best chef in the Netherlands
People who live for others, and not for themselves
The fiscal addition policy for the business car
Trade conferences abroad
Bullshit. Just step on it!
C.V. St Hendrien, de Dansmari’s
For people who live in poorer circumstances than us, in our well-organised country
That my son would teach himself to play the piano
Spa Franchorchamps; passing through Eau Rouge during the rain in a monoposto… Scary!
People who can’t drive in traffic
Fruit for breakfast every day. Delicious!
WISEST LESSON 2019 DAAN REEKERS, ADELAER
“Never assume that something goes smoothly and do not conclude that you’ll reach your goal quickly. Think three steps ahead and stay alert. There are many more hurdles on your journey than you expect. These can be governmental or socio-economic circumstances; or the sentiment of a bank manager of which you have no control over. The lines must be clearly defined and you must always keep communicating, then your goal will more likely be achieved. At Adelaer we speak of the so-called “Daankracht”: setting your mind to something and not letting go!
BUSINESS PREVIEW 2020
What are your plans for 2020? What do you want to achieve and how will you manage that?
An expansion at Financial Architects. For certain, we will be opening a second branch abroad. In addition to the current London location, we also want to open one in Germany. In the Netherlands we’ll also launch an office in Utrecht. And Capital Markets will be expanded with two advisors per January.
Team building. To put the right people in the right place. But also to make sure that everyone is heard, from the secretary to the adviser. Adelaer owes its existence to this. Without our people, we’re nothing! We reward every good initiative, that’s the advantage of being a small company. With our 21 employees, we are “big” because we are decisive and entrepreneurial .
What do you already have planned?
More speed in the credit processes with our providers, and work on (even) higher customer satisfaction rates. In addition, generate more exposure with foreign investors in the Netherlands.
What will you do different next year?
Do more business and further expand the business. Also, I’ll continue to serve my core customers myself, but should dare to let go of the reigns from time to time.
PERSONAL PREVIEW ON 2020
What will you do different in 2020?
Work hard, but also enjoy life. I should take things easier now and again to recover.
What is definitely on your agenda?
Organize a new rally in Scotland and participate in the Mille Miglia in Italy for the first time, the rally of the rallies.
New Year’s resolution?
I don’t have them. I try to do everything well, honestly and sincerely. I think that’s really important; you must be able to keep looking at yourself in the mirror.
Which would you devote more of your time to? And less?
To my wife, the driving force behind me and our family. And pay less attention to matters that matter less.