Commercial Corner: Seth Weissman

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Seth Weissman
Seth Weissman

Seth Weissman

President of Urban Standard Capital

Seth Weissman founded Urban Standard Capital (USC) in 2015 and serves as president. He also serves as the managing partner of Weissman Equities and CityShares. Urban Standard Capital has three business lines — real estate development, acquisitions and lending — all focused on the New York City metropolitan market. In 2019, USC closed $150 million in loans and over $75 million in loan-on-loan financing. Weissman and his team are known for their creative and thoughtful approach to creating value, whether as sponsors of equity deals or structuring loans for their clients. In 2020, Weissman has closed $50 million of transactions, including an $8 million acquisition in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, a $16 million loan in Astoria, Queens and a $9 million loan portfolio in Brooklyn.

Before founding USC, Weissman worked at Goldman Sachs and Perry Capital. In addition, he founded #REHasYourBack, which purchased over 10,000 meals from local businesses and donated them to families in need.

How long have you been in the industry?
Since 2005.

Who inspires you?
My team. Their dedication and commitment to our firm and to the success of all our stakeholders (borrowers, brokers, tenants, consultants, contractors, etc.) is the reason Urban Standard Capital has been successful.

What advice do you have for someone starting out?
Pick a segment of the industry you are genuinely passionate about.

Why did you form Urban Standard?
There was a clear opportunity to bring an institutional level investment discipline and approach to middle market investments, both debt and equity.

What makes your company different?
Our committed, discretionary capital base and experience investing and managing different parts of the capital stack. Borrowers and sellers want speed and certainty of execution in all markets but particularly in this volatile market.

We have a fixed capital base (not dependent on deal-by-deal syndication) which, combined with our property level development and ownership experience, allows us to provide that certainty to the market. Simply, we have sat in our borrower’s shoes and understand their goals and can be creative about helping them achieve their objectives.

Why can USC turn deals around so quickly?
Two reasons. First, we are structured as a private equity fund and each of our strategies (credit, development and value-add repositioning) are supported by separate discretionary, committed pools of capital. Second, we focus on a market niche that we know really intimately and are well connected to.

What investment trends are you seeing in NYC during the COVID-19 era?
The dislocation in the conventional debt markets is presenting opportunities that previously weren’t available to private debt funds. We are seeing loan opportunities on traditionally lower-risk, transitional and/or partially cash-flowing assets in prime locations that prior to COVID-19 would have qualified for more conventional financing. We have closed deals at 228 Livingston Street, 710 DeGraw and 181 Court Street that are prime examples of this trend.

Pre-COVID-19, lenders delivered loans with more structure (construction holdbacks, earn-outs, etc.) and a larger spread in the 5% to 6% range. With that market now on pause, we have been able to lend on assets like this in the 8.75% to 9% range.

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