Leading in Tough Times: T.R. Hazelrigg IV, President and Co-Founder, Avatar Financial Group LLC

Featured / News - 09/07/2023

Throughout the month of August, Connect CRE is running a series titled “Leading in Tough Times.” We’ve asked leaders around the U.S. and across the commercial real estate spectrum to share their wisdom and discuss lessons learned. In this installment, you’ll hear from Avatar Financial Group LLC’s President and Co-Founder, T.R. Hazelrigg IV.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leading in a challenging environment?

A: Having weathered the downturn of the ‘90s, the ‘08/’09 financial crisis, Covid, and now the combination of rapidly rising interest rates and the effects from remote work, I’ve learned not to make the month to lose the year. In other words, don’t rush to close deals just to make the month. Be patient and take the time to assimilate the macro environment and analyze how it effects your business. Once the fog begins to lift, move forward on your new game plan.

Q: What’s the most common mistake leaders make in an inhospitable market?

A: The biggest mistake lenders make in rapidly changing markets is not changing their lending criteria fast enough. Appraisals are backwards looking and in times of rapidly rising rates, comps are no longer comps. If you’re looking at a property with a 4.5 cap rate from six months ago, the rate is now at 6 – you’ll arrive at a grossly exaggerated value. Not changing underwriting criteria to be more forward looking can lead to ruin. Your longstanding path to success could now be a path to failure.

Q: What’s the most valuable leadership advice you’ve ever been given?

A: The best advice I’ve ever been given and will continue to pass along to others is to hire the best people – those who bring the knowledge, experience, and work ethic to challenge you and help you grow. Many leaders are afraid of surrounding themselves with people who are extremely knowledgeable and bring great value to the firm for fear of losing or sharing control of the firm.

Q: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made as a business leader?

A: Learning the value of entrepreneurship. Unless you’re the first to create a new market, product, or technology, you must first seek out and go work for the one of the best companies in your field to hone your craft. Starting my own company was the best decision I ever made, but it would not have been possible without leveraging the knowledge and experience gained while working at one of the best in the industry.

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