Director taps into the world through Capital Markets

Max La Cava's global upbringing lends a unique perspective to real estate

June 15, 2022

Ask Max La Cava, Director at JLL Capital Markets in Miami, one word to describe his work, and the answer comes without hesitation: fun.

Why is working in real estate capital markets fun? For Max, it comes down to two things.

"Capital Markets ties into what's happening around the globe," said Max. "As someone with a multicultural perspective, I enjoy seeing how something happening on the other side of the world, like supply chain disruptions in China leading to inflation in construction materials, impacts the construction budget for a build-to-rent townhome development in South Florida."

Max always has been uniquely aware of global interconnections. He grew up in Venezuela to an Italian father and a Venezuelan mother. He spent summers with family in the Italian Alps, New York City, and Isla Margarita in the Caribbean. Max grew up speaking three languages. He attended an International School in Caracas where they spoke English. His classmates came from around the world and added a global perspective to the classroom atmosphere.

Max initially thought private banking was the epitome of careers. His father was a Wall Street banker for over 25 years, working in Milan, London, New York City, and Caracas. He grew up talking about financial markets at the dinner table and watching Bloomberg TV every morning. In pursuit of his banking aspirations, he double majored in Economics & Finance and Global Perspectives at Bentley University in the U.S. His internships at Barclays and Merrill Lynch were in global wealth management and investment analysis.

His first job was working for J.P. Morgan Private Bank as a global investment analyst for Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean. At that time, Max thought he was on the career track he would have for the rest of his life.

"Essentially, what you're doing is advising the wealthiest, most prosperous people in the world on how to invest their money," said Max. "At our meetings, there would be very successful entrepreneurs. Meeting with them and seeing how they built multimillion-dollar companies from nothing inspired me. I realized that I wanted to be on the other side of the table."

Max's father-in-law ran a real estate investment firm and encouraged him to consider a commercial real estate investing career. The conversation reminded Max of his dad's real estate projects in the Caribbean and how much fun it was to visit these projects as a kid.

"As I grew more interested, I started asking myself urban-planning related questions like 'why did the suburbs develop?' and 'why are industrial properties located close to highways?' I wanted to understand the dynamics of each real estate asset class and the role they play in our modern world."

Except Max didn't have any real estate experience. He landed a role as an acquisitions and capital markets analyst at a privately-owned real estate company run by a self-made entrepreneur. Max was excited to learn the industry from one of Miami's most successful retail investors, who had grown his business from zero to $1 billion in assets under management by the age of 45.

Acquisitions and capital markets seemed like the right fit because of his global perspective and passion for tangible investments. Max sees the work as the nexus of finance, macroeconomics, law, architecture, construction, geography, business strategy, and deal-making.

"We are an asset class impacted by a confluence of academic disciplines and global events. Local property performance is intertwined with the macro events of the world. Think about the emergence of Covid-19 and the ripple effect on the hotel industry in Miami or overseas in Ibiza. It's fascinating to think about how connected we all are," said Max. "By working in real estate investments, I structure complex transactions in this dynamic world where the only constant is change."

Max reached a point where his learning curve was leveling out. He had to take the next step to grow his knowledge and career. He wanted to work for the best, and that meant JLL. Max recognized they were leaders in the Capital Markets industry. Max knew people that worked there and liked that the firm had a tradition of empowering talent and helping them unlock their potential. He also liked that JLL was known for having a meritocratic culture, where skill and hard work were rewarded.

"I like how JLL is a global company with offices in over 90 countries. It's one of the coolest things to pick up the phone and call one of my colleagues in Mexico City or Seoul and have a conversation about structuring financing for an office skyscraper in Sao Paulo. It's exciting to be part of an international deal-making organization."

The other reason Max finds Capital Markets fun is because he gets to work on groundbreaking real estate development projects that transform places and shape our world.

"Think about this: the history of humanity is intertwined with real estate. Our ancestors lived in huts 200,000 years ago; the Romans built the Colosseum 2,000 years ago; George Washington commissioned the White House 200 years ago, and today Elon Musk is building Gigafactories worldwide. This is the story of real estate development. If you're developing a project or strategically advising developers, you are changing the fabric of a city, a town, a neighborhood, or whatever it is. I think that's fascinating," said Max.

His interest in real estate development worked to his advantage shortly after joining the Office Investment Sales Advisory team. About six months into his work, transaction volume slowed due to the pandemic and work-from-home mandates. Max seized it as an opportunity to meet as many real estate developers as possible and identified an opportunity in the nascent single-family / build-to-rent space.

Max La Cava and wife, Pia.

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"This idea of renting a home instead of an apartment and why it makes sense was intriguing," said Max. "Savvy developers noticed the Millennial generation moving into the family formation years. They said, 'let's build single-family rental communities where people can get all the benefits of living in a home without owning one.' I also saw major institutional investors allocating capital to the sector. I created a business plan focused on being a capital advisor partner to developer clients. In mid-2020, I dipped my toe into the space, and in 2021, I formally joined JLL's National Single-Family Rental ("SFR") Team as its fourth member by the age of 29. Our data-driven platform, in-depth market knowledge, and early mover advantage are quickly positioning us as experts in the space."

Joining this team has started to fulfill Max's goal of getting on the other side of the table. "I have been fortunate to carve my own path via finding a niche opportunity and become an entrepreneur in the most advanced and competitive economy in the world."


"Today, I'm starting to see the fruits of my hard work paying off. Our business is growing at rocket speed, and we are just getting started! My goal is to scale our team into the dominant SFR capital markets advisor in the United States and wake up every day having as much fun as possible while doing it."

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