The natural born deal-maker with AH Capital excels in the working class spaces of America
Yusef Alexander tends to view things differently. Where other real estate investors might see a blighted property, Alexander sees opportunity.
“I’m a deal junky,” he says. “I can look at things and it’s like radar. It’s like a guy who sells art or precious stones. I can see value that most people don’t see.”
Today, Alexander and three other partners represent AH Capital, a multi-million dollar real estate investment firm with more than 2,000 housing units nationwide. In Los Angeles alone it has repositioned more than $300 million in toxic assets. “We’ve cleaned up a lot of mess made by Big-Bank’s predatory lending,” Alexander said
After nearly 20 years of making deals, Alexander has a good sense of what a property might need to both increase its value on the market and also improve the lives of the people living there.
“The thing that surprises me the most is how the attitudes of the people living in our properties changes,” he said. “Their entire outlook improves and it makes me feel really good about what we’re doing.”
When he first started investing in real estate Alexander thrived in economically depressed neighborhoods in Hollywood and Los Angeles. Now he’s taken his knowledge to other parts of the country, applying what he’s learned to Illinois, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina.
“I am truly a maven in the working class spaces of America,” he said. “There is chaos in the real estate market sometimes. I understand that chaos and I can make order from it.”
In Athens, Georgia where he just returned, Alexander helped turn around a 500-unit apartment complex through what he calls (specific-intent-marketing). “It’s a sense of knowing what a patron needs and doing our best to give it to them”, says Alexander. In Athens, AH went as far as installing a piece of mosaic tile depicting the local university to create a better feeling for their residents. In another building, residents once afraid to leave their apartments now feel safe to push baby strollers through common areas.
“I really believe that people deserve to live better,” he said.
Raised in South Central Los Angeles, Alexander attended Hamilton High School and later received a partial academic-scholarship to UCLA where he majored in Economics.
His start in real estate came soon after graduating through a deal he made with his brother, and current business partner, Daniel. One deal led to another until he had enough adventures to write a book called Deal by Deal. But when the economy collapsed in 2008 and the real estate market changed, Alexander founded a telecommunications company along with divesting most of his real estate holdings.
Then when the market started to turn around a bit in 2009 and 2010, his eyes got big and the excitement grew.
“I felt it was the optimal time to birth AH Capital,” he said. “There was so much product out there I was in a perfect position because I’ve done it before.”
Speaking with Alexander in front of one of the homes he helped improve in Los Angeles, he talks about choosing a style that best unlocks the value of the property.
“I grew up in the Internet revolution and the dot-com bust. I have all of those intrinsic lessons. I relate to that generation,” he said. “When I design my homes, I know young people will be living there. I know that technology people will be interested. Why do I do that? Because I’m good at what I do.”