Karl Falk, 38, owns Summit Mitigation Services, a national leader in the sales and servicing of non-performing loans. The company’s niche is helping various entities with short sales — getting financial institutions to take less than what’s owed on real estate loans. Back in the 1980s, when 4 percent of real estate loans went into default, it took 13 years to return the market to normal (less than 1 percent). During the crash of 2008-12, the default rate was 11 percent, Falk said. The Air Force Academy graduate (and former AFA football player) said it’s “not outside reality” to take 13 years to return the market to normal.
How did you become attracted to your career choice?
Attracted? I’d say it’s more like divine intervention … or maybe punishment. Looking back, 10 years ago, there is no way I would have told you this is where I would be; it’s just something that happened.
I started investing in real estate in 2006. At the time we started getting calls and referrals for properties that were upside-down (they owed more than the property was worth). We started helping homeowners, and then it kind of took off. Now we focus on helping homeowners, real estate agents, brokerages, title companies, attorneys and now large hedge and private equity funds navigate the world of Non-Performing Loans, or NPLs (short sales, loan modifications, deeds in lieu, etc.) across the nation.
How did you become a national leader in this field?
I found something I was passionate about, teamed up with the right people, had a relentless vision and never gave up on it. We are still pushing the envelope today.
I pushed our team to focus on the ideal that we could make a difference in an industry that can be misleading, fraudulent and unbelievably stressful at times.
It wasn’t easy, and there are still challenges today, but we continually evolve. I think we’re good because our staff is happy. They work for us not because of a paycheck, but knowing that they are making a difference in another family’s life and future.
What are your professional challenges, and how do you meet them?
There are challenges with staffing to support specific geographies and manage the ebbs and flows of the marketplace on a national scale. Our operations staff has adapted to a virtual environment to overcome this.
We are the epitome of the 21st century company. We run a virtual environment with core teams in various states that support clients all over the U.S. Interoffice chat, VOIP technology, video conferencing and interoffice collaboration suites make us nimble and flexible and very effective in responding to client and geographical needs.
There are also daily challenges with an ever-changing marketplace. We are continually changing approaches, strategies and processes to stay ahead of the power curve.
The contacts and relationships we have made inside the industry help us gauge the tide … so our clients don’t sink.
How are you involved in Colorado Springs? Is it important to become involved? Why?
Being involved in the local community is very important; sometimes running a company with national clients makes it difficult to put as much time and effort in locally as I could. I am currently the scoutmaster for Cub Scouts Pack 76 in Monument and am very active in my three kids’ sports.
Over the years I have been fortunate to have great mentors and people to look up to, and I hope in the near future I can give back. I am also working with our public relations team to focus efforts on how to best inform and assist homeowners in Colorado Springs. Our national exposure has given us a very good perspective on what’s happening in the back end of the market.
How important is community involvement?
Community involvement is very important. The strength of a community is invested in its foundation. The foundation is held with the younger generations. If the generations above this foundation do not cultivate and shape the younger generations, then the foundation of the community will suffer.
I recently attended my 20-year high school reunion. There, seven people who were in my fifth grade class told me they still remember my mom coming to school on career day and teaching the kids how to decorate cupcakes. They remembered the cupcakes because it was fun. But also, they told me that because of this memory, they realized how important it was to be involved in their kids’ classrooms, and they all volunteer because of this. You never know what it is that you do that will influence them later that day, a year from now or well into the future.