AFIRE Podcast 2023.03: Investing, or Gambling? (Ethan Penner, Mosaic)

Ethan Penner, CEO of Mosaic Real Estate Investors, reflects on the current landscape of real estate dislocation and how investors need to change their understanding of risks and opportunities.

How should I invest now—in this market?

Will distress create meaningful discounts?

If I buy now, am I catching a falling knife?

Is the conservative deal of the past still conservative today?

As real estate investors, we all face an interesting, uncertain—and perhaps even weird—real estate market right now, and there are a lot of questions.

Ethan Penner, CEO of Mosaic Real Estate Investors, sat down on March 7, 2023 with AFIRE CEO and podcast host Gunnar Branson, challenging conventional thinking based on what has worked on the past—and presenting practical insights about how investors can avoid thinking mistakes and navigate the more challenging aspects of the current (and coming) real estate cycle.


Ethan Penner is a founder of Mosaic and is a recognized pioneer in the fields of real estate and finance with a 30-year career marked by filling voids and responding to unseen or poorly understood opportunities. Most consequently, he is credited with being the primary driver in the creation of the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities market for which he received broad recognition including being named one of the U.S. Real Estate Industry’s 100 icons of the 20th century. In 2011, Real Estate Forum voted him one of the Real Estate Industry’s 65 living legends in their 65th anniversary issue.

In 2008, Penner founded and served as President of CBRE Capital Partners, a real estate debt investment platform which successfully raised and managed over $600 million from institutional and high net worth investors. CBRE Capital Partners exited all of its investments in 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

Ethan is also committed to improving the lives of others and enhancing awareness and does so in a number of ways including teaching – he is an adjunct professor at Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University; writing – he maintains a weekly blog and has had many articles published in a variety of publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Wharton Real Estate Review and the Institutional Real Estate Investor; public speaking – he is a frequent featured speaker at industry conferences and universities; philanthropy – in 1996 he founded the Walt Frazier Youth Foundation which provided internships to teenagers at major U.S. corporations in New York City, and has been on numerous boards including that of The League, which had a competition-based, in-school community service model, KIND, which is dedicated to bringing education and opportunity to woman, and The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is dedicated to enhancing awareness to combat hate; and fitness – he is the founder and board member of Fitwall, LLC, a company aimed at revolutionizing the exercise industry through its patented Fitwall product.

The AFIRE Podcast with Gunnar Branson is the official, multiple-award-winning podcast of AFIRE, the association for international real estate investors focused on commercial property in the United States.

Hosted by AFIRE CEO Gunnar Branson, the podcast features informative and in-depth conversations with experts across the full spectrum of real estate, investment, sustainability, economics, geopolitics, and urbanism with a focus on helping each other become Better Investors, Better Leaders, and Better Global Citizens. To learn more, visit


The publisher of the AFIRE Podcast is not engaged in providing tax, accounting, or legal advice through this publication. No content published in the AFIRE Podcast is to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Some information included in the AFIRE Podcast has been obtained from third-party sources considered to be reliable, though the publisher is not responsible for guaranteeing the accuracy of third-party information. The opinions expressed in the AFIRE Podcast are those of its respective contributors and sources and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.


Benjamin van Loon, Communications Director | +1 202 312 1405

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