Since 2016, Steven Ujvary has served as senior vice president in the acquisitions group at Starwood Capital Group. In this role, he is responsible for residential mortgage debt strategies with a focus on non-agency whole loans. Before joining Starwood, Ujvary served as managing director for the Macquarie Group. He started his career as an analyst with Merrill Lynch.
Q. What led you to your current position with Starwood Capital?
A. In 2011, after the market began to recover, I went to the Macquarie Group where I worked with a principal trading team that looked at structured credit and mortgages to target distressed assets. After the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau introduced regulation in 2014 that essentially rewrote the rules of the mortgage industry, I started a business within Macquarie to invest in newly originated non-agency residential mortgage assets.
After five years with Macquarie, I came to Starwood Capital in 2016 to run their residential lending platform. My time with Starwood has been extremely exciting professionally because they are a world-class real estate-focused investment firm with a significant opportunity to scale an investment strategy in the residential housing market. Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO, Starwood Capital Group, and our other senior professionals have built Starwood into one of the leading private real estate investment firms in the world. Starwood has real estate in its DNA. I have not been a part of a company like that before. Because of the expertise and reach of the firm, we can creatively pursue acquisition opportunities for our investors every day without any significant restriction on size or scale.
Q. Why did you choose to get involved with the Steers Center?
A. The Steers Center offers Georgetown students a unique opportunity to gain direct exposure to the real estate industry. Much of that exposure comes in the four quadrants of the commercial real estate industry—public equity, private equity, private debt, and public debt. Matthew Cypher, director, Steers Center, saw an opportunity for me to expand their focus by offering my expertise in residential real estate mortgage market. Considering the residential housing market is the largest investable asset class in the United States, I have been excited to help the center expand its focus into an important sector with high growth potential.
Q. As a Georgetown graduate, how do you see the work of the Steers Center fitting in with the Georgetown student experience?
A. I think Georgetown is perfectly situated to be a thought leader in the residential housing market because government and public policy are so important in the space. I have no doubt the Steers Center will continue to lead conversations on how the government should carry out housing reform and help to grow the residential market. This is an important issue for people on both sides of the political divide.
Q. What advice do you have for students interested in real estate?
A. Stay flexible. Before the financial crisis, mortgage industry leaders had been operating the same way for a long time. After the crisis, the people who succeeded were the ones who saw new opportunities and attacked them in new ways. Always try to approach each role you have with an entrepreneurial attitude. If you have a good idea, take the initiative and chase it down.