Mann Report — Mann Report November 2014
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Jacob Frydman

United Realty

Investing In Opportunity

Jacob Frydman isn't excited by the plain vanilla, triple net lease deals that so many have favored over the past decade. Instead, he and his company, United Realty, have built a reputation as active asset managers that increase value through investment in properties that can be repositioned, remarketed or redeveloped to enhance value and deliver multiples on invested equity.

At the age of twelve, Jacob took on the duties of reading complex real estate documents to his father, an immigrant from Poland, who by that time had built a modest family enterprise constructing single family homes.

"I absolutely hated it," recalls Frydman, "I resented it. Back then, I would have much rather been out playing ball with my friends." He later came to realize, however, that after years of tedious contract review and helping with the negotiations that he knew more about real estate than anyone else his age.

Frydman sold commercial real estate while in college at Boston University, and in law school he became known as "Mr. Real Estate," supporting himself doing deals. It was at this time that he developed his first large project, an 11-home subdivision. Later, during a stint as a first-year associate at a law firm specializing in real estate syndication, Frydman quickly realized he'd rather be buying the real estate than handling the legal work. He made an agreement with the firm that he could look for deals on his own time and keep 40% of any profit he brought in.

The arrangement proved to be a good one: he bought and sold his first property on the same day, making a $500,000 profit in the process. "At that point, I was smitten with real estate and never looked back," says Frydman.

Since then, Frydman has participated in acquisition and development transactions valued at more than $2 billion. Some of his highlights, which he did with business partner Mitch Rutter, include Two Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, the Aetna Building in lower Manhattan, Goldman Sachs' Global Crossing New York headquarters and NBC's New York television studios.

"Real estate attracts me because it's everything from finance, to aesthetics, to design, to construction," Frydman says. "I look back now and I really have my father to thank for giving me a leg up so early on. I have made a career investing in assets that would scare most people away – what I call hairy, difficult deals – because these structures are so second nature to me that, I believe, I see opportunities where others see obstacles."

Frydman has harnessed that vision on his way to building a successful real estate investment career spanning over three decades. His focus on opportunistic and value-added real estate, the hairy, difficult deals he refers to, has provided a platform for United Realty's mantra today: Investing in Opportunity.

"Some people right now are talking in very doom and gloom terms about the prospects for investing in commercial real estate over the next few years. But I really see it very differently. I believe that if you know what to look for – and as importantly, what to look out for – that you can be successful in this business in just about any economic cycle or environment."

Frydman is confident that his vision will lead United Realty to the type of Cinderella deals that have become his calling card. If the past is any indication, there's a good chance he's right.

Jacob Frydman
Chairman and CEO
United Realty
60 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Tel: 212-388-6800