Joseph Philip Forte is a partner and Chair of the New York Real Estate department. Mr. Forte has substantial experience in commercial real estate capital markets and finance, with a particular emphasis on the origination, structuring, workout and enforcement of commercial mortgage loans. His experience includes permanent, bridge and construction mortgage lending; mezzanine finance; pari passu and subordinate debt; co-lending and participation agreements; loan sales and purchases; loan workouts, foreclosures and restructurings; and environmental risk management for lenders. He regularly advises lenders and investors on mortgage banking, doing business licensing, usury, federal preemption and investment authority, as well as secondary mortgage and capital markets issues.
He has been at the forefront of many major innovations in the real estate finance industry for over four decades. He was involved in the early development of the secondary and securitization markets for residential, multifamily and commercial mortgages and, in 1988, he developed the program and loan documents for the first commercial mortgage loan conduit and other early standardized conduit programs, loan documents and flow purchase programs.
Joe also represents traditional portfolio lenders as well as special servicers in CMBS transactions, whether as stand-alone transactions or in complicated capital stacks involving senior mortgage debt, subordinate B-notes or mezzanine debt with intercreditor, participation and co-lender arrangements. His workout experience began with the failure of the early mortgage REITs in the mid-‘70s; the interest rate spike and disintermediation crisis in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; the partnership syndication crisis subsequent to the adoption of the 1986 U.S. Tax Doe; the savings and loan crisis and the RTC workouts in the early ‘90s; the market disruption after the Asian Flu crisis in August 1998 through the most recent financial crisis over the last decade. He has dealt with a wide array of disparate issues in resolving problem loans with the support of experienced partners in litigation, bankruptcy, corporate banking and tax practices.
Joe has been recognized as a leading real estate finance practitioner in national and international surveys. Since 2004, he has regularly been highlighted by Chambers USA for his real estate practice and has been hailed as “a legend” “who is at the top of his game. “He is someone who everyone truly respects.” Chambers USA stated that Joe is “a highly experienced and respected real estate finance specialist. He has notable expertise on the structuring, origination and workout of commercial mortgage loans.” The Legal 500 United States has also recommended Joe for his real estate practice.
Joe has been recognized annually by The International Who’s Who of Real Estate Lawyers as one of the top 10 most highly regarded lawyers, and from 2010 to 2013 and 2017 as “Global Real Estate Lawyer of the Year.” He was featured in the Real Estate chapter of the inaugural Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders 2017. In 2013, he was one of only two attorneys recognized among 30 executives in Commercial Property Executives’ “Most Influential People in Real Estate” feature celebrating those central to driving growth and innovation in the commercial real estate recovery.