Profiles of local brokers and other dealmakers in commercial real estate still making a go of it despite the down market:



Lion Real Estate Group LLC, downtown L.A.

Barak is among the most active of the younger generation of real estate professionals. He left real estate investment bank Buchanan Street Partners to co-found Lion in October 2007 with the intent to buy and reposition distressed apartment buildings. So far Lion has amassed a portfolio of roughly four buildings with 63 units.

Biggest Challenge: Managing the market in terms of staying ahead of the economic downturn, keeping our buildings well occupied and keeping cash flowing. The increasing unemployment has hit us, as it has all property owners, in that tenants have lost their jobs or have decided to cut back on their expenditures toward rent.

Secret of Success: First, we operate a lean firm, which allows us to underwrite transactions and make decisions quickly and efficiently. Second, we are fortunate in that we raised a pool of capital that allows us to close deals on an expedited basis. Finally, the principals have experience in multiple disciplines.

Recession's Silver Lining: The game of musical chairs has ended. The market is going through a painful period of deleveraging. (It) was inevitable given the appreciation of values over the course of the past five to 10 years, which were completely out of sync with income growth.

Stress Release: I enjoy spending time with my wife and playing with my daughter, Liana. She loves the swings at the park. I also try to get in some tennis when I can.

Recent Splurge: We still like to go to the movies and out to dinner with friends. We have certainly cut back on things, though. We have cut back on vacations quite a bit.

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