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Shop Talk - The Real Estate Agent Podcast

Real Estate Agent Podcast Episode 72: Real Estate Investing

Episode 72: Real Estate Investing
July 28, 2021

Whether you’re new to the real estate industry or an experienced agent, investing in the real estate market can be a lucrative play that can be the launching pad for a successful career.

So I tell people, keep your antennas up and where you are. You can be where you are, where the investor is, the person is, the entrepreneur is, is almost, it's the best place to be.

Yusef Alexander

About This Episode

Yusef Alexander is a veteran within real estate, and has over 20 years of experience working on acquisitions, property management, leasing operations, and sales and marketing. He is currently The VP and Chief Business Development Officer for Real Estate Asset Partners. Yusef has mastered investing in real estate, and provides information on the current market, and what agents can do to break into the investing space. 

Find out more about Yusef and Real Estate Asset Partners at his website. And if you have any questions or simply want to chat about real estate, email him at

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Episode Transcript

Brett: Hey everyone and welcome to ShopTalk, the real estate show. I’m Brett Van Alstine and joining me on this episode is Yusef Alexander. Yusef has more than 20 years of experience in real estate, and currently serves as The VP & Chief Business Development Officer at Real Estate Asset Partners. We dive into Yusef’s career, the line of real estate investment he has mastered, and how you can break into this space.

Brett : Yusef thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. So let's jump in and get this started. Can you give us and our listeners a little background on yourself, your career in real estate and how you've landed at your current role with real estate asset partners?


Well, I'll try to do that in the best you know, truncated small way as possible, but there's, it's a storied existence born and raised in Los Angeles in south Los Angeles. So, okay. I'm a child of the seventies and grew up in the eighties in South Los Angeles. So any culture and any kind of eighties lore you hear about south LA, you know, II'm the guy that experienced it.


You know, things are popular, but then they become classics. I guess my generation is now the classic things, with news and culture and stuff like that. So that's kind of where I was born and raised. UCLA grad economics started my own business, started repositioning homes in the marginal areas, blighted areas of the city and scaled it, I did, I did very well. thankfully in that arena, took that operation around the United States, Arizona, Chicago, North Carolina, landed in Georgia and you know, transformed from repositioning homes to multi-family real estate. So the people that lived in the homes that I bought and sold, they, they also had, you know, a taste for you know, first time buyers and, and they also had a taste for working class multi-family real estate. So all my skillsets over to that space.


And you know, we did well started a syndicated fund you know, bond sold dozens and dozens and hundreds and hundreds of, of different properties and where that brings me now, as, you know, kind of a seasoned, that's a nice way of saying an old guy, you know, I'm just kind of been in this almost two and a half decades now. So seeing different cycles in different markets, but I just choose to partnerships and properties and investments that fit my expertise and also fit my, my, my climate for, for risk in life. Because I'm at a point now where, you know, I live in Southern California and I'm raising them parent enthusiast. So I'm raising some teenage daughters. And sometimes I like to, I like to be at home, but also sometimes I like to be kind of on the ground boots on the ground with investments in other places. So I don't know if that helps, but that's the best I can do for you,

Brett: Right. No, that was a great summary. That was, I thought that was perfect. So what made you kind of get started? I guess leading up to you, starting your business, when you graduated from UCLA, what made you want to kind of get into that?

Yusef: You know, it was kind of a perfect storm during that time. It was the mid nineties and, you know, it was kind of leading up to a bubble happening. So the market was right, you know, a lot of distressed assets were on the market. I was a curious young, you know, entrepreneur you know, interest rates were fairly favorable, so few layers and, you know, I got I got help from, from a mentor from a guy that said, Hey, let me, let me, let me show you the ropes, you know, how to buy and sell some of this, this blighted these blighted areas and all that, you know, layered together with my ambition and my, my nervous energy, you know, went, went in a good direction. Okay.

Brett: Okay. And in terms of, you know, you mentioned investment real estate investment can be applied in so many different areas of the industry. What does investment mean for you and your role? I know you touched on multi-family, but can you go a little more in depth with that

Yusef: Now, you know, my efforts need to be scaled and they also need to be you know, they, they need to be appropriately addressed for, you know, what size asset I'd like, what size return out like, and also what size of risk, you know, that my, my investors and myself have an appetite for. So multi-family does, does all those things for me, I mean, I'm not saying it's a, you know, something that's not multifamily is a waste of time, but which I do, I've actually done a small unit here in Los Angeles near the great Western forum, because it's just an, you know, an emerging area. But multi-family allows, you know, a larger set of investors, a set of, and also allows risk to be mitigated in certain ways. And that's why, you know, now in my career, when I do things bigger projects, that make sense for me. Sure.

Brett: Yeah. So you're definitely, you're at the point where obviously you have enough access to information that, you know, what you're getting into is going to obviously be profitable for you and your company and your other investors and stakeholders. Yep. Okay. Okay. So what does today's real estate investment climate really look like?

Yusef: You know, again, there are multiple markets that, you know people have expertise in you know, mine is working class real estate. I mean, it's in my bones. Like I told you, I'm born and raised in south Los Angeles, not only Southern California, but south Los Angeles in the 1980s during the Reagan years and all of the things that come with that. So I understand the the value add the, the, you know, creative capital to kind of place in working class real estate to pull the levers of squeezing all of the, the benefit out of it, squeezing all of the profit and squeezing all of the, you know, the, the kind of abundant exchange between the user and the investment in working class real estate. Now, again, you, you might have folks on your shore, people can look up, you know, there's people, I don't know, they do all kinds of different types of real estate, luxury homes with drones and people open the champagne flutes with the drone, capturing them on the top of a place in Bel air, I guess, a lot of stuff going on. That's not, yeah. You know, I'm, I'm the guy with the lunch pail and the hard hat in the lab, you know, churning out a deal after deal after deal, after deal, after deal with, with, you know, you know, profitable you know, is profitable at the end. Right.

Brett: Well, and then, you know, given your background and, you know where you came from, I'm sure that that means a lot to you, you know, kind of working in those areas that you know, so well.

Yusef: Absolutely. And you know, it kind of brings me to the question you asked earlier, you know, where I am in my career now, like it's just such a refreshing position to be in, you know, you learn about things in life, and then you take those things you learn and you earn, and you, you know, you kinda make a way with yourself and then it's time to return. You know, I'm doing a lot of learning and earning still, but I'm at the point where I can, I can do some returning and I've done that in several ways. You know, there's a fellowship there's a fellowship connection at the economics department at UCLA that I'm involved in. There's an alumni group. There are, you know, I sit on the board of a Creek academy. It's a it's a school in south Los Angeles for the, the students, the children of parents in these working class, you know, buildings and areas that they need proper care for their children. So again, I'm coming from a certain area coming from a certain background and then seeing the, you know, the different ways and means that a career will take you, but then going back and kind of looking back and giving some stuff. It just really, it does a lot for me personally.

Brett: That's great. Well, I mean, and it, I mean, what a story really it's, it's kind of cool on my end to, you know, hear about your success and how you've gotten to the point where you're obviously still learning so much, but you're able to you have the means to give back to the areas that, you know, you'll work with so closely.

Yusef: Yes, yes. Yeah.

Brett: So what are in your eyes? What are some of the top markets that people should invest their money in? If they're looking to get into this

Yusef: Well, markets that I like are the Southeast, you know, really like the Southeast and you know, Tennessee, Georgia in those markets. Also the west, there are some markets in Texas and Arizona, and of course, California, I know the Southern California market, so I can, I can make, you know, some base hits and some, you know, triples at times in cars returns, but, you know, for the, for the novice investor to be, you know, in a market like Southern California, I would say, you know, you can, you probably want to look at other places, but, you know, it depends. And then what also, I sit down with, with new investors and new business owners, and I say, you know what? Your antennas are up in your own market. You grew up somewhere, Maine, Colorado, you know, and you understood that, that, you know, strip mall turned into you know, something bigger than, than what it is today or what it was when it turned to something bigger today than what it was 10, 15 years ago.

Yusef: And then there's an eight unit apartment building down the street, and then there's a 20 unit apartment building down the street. And, and so those, you know, kind of granular observations in your own market, it provides you know, a wealth of information for investment. So I tell people, keep your antennas up and where you are, you can being where you are, is where the investor is. The person is, the entrepreneur is, is almost, you know, it's the best place to be at the, you know, to do, to do things that you can only see. Right. Take that information, take that experience somewhere else, where you can stretch out the gains.

Brett: Of course. Yeah. Yeah. So what are some key indicators that lead experts like yourself to invest in certain markets? I know we just talked about really staying plugged in to the communities that, you know, and, you know having your antennas up for opportunities where you can make some, a good chunk of money off of, but for you, what are some indicators that you like to kind of pay attention to?

Yusef: Well, that's a great question, Brett, and, you know, everything centers around the, the, the stabilization of a household. So, okay. You know, you got a 25 year old to a 45 year old, you know, family, individual couple and have her, you know, blend that, that household. And then what you want is you want, you want jobs and you also want, you know, a certain lifestyle. So you can, the drivers are, you know, where, what industries are supporting those, that population, whether it be schools, jobs, you know, hospitals, or, you know, some type of financial industry, it can be textiles, retail, whatever it is, oil. And then you just feed that into the demographic that you're looking. These are, these are my customers, you know, from 25 to 45. I mean, it can be, it can be beyond that, but, you know, that's a core group and they need to, their children need to go to school.

Yusef: If they have children, they need to go and work at, you know either whole foods market or, or shop at whole foods market, or they need to go, you know you know, marketing firms. So, you know, those are the drivers. I mainly look into that population that earn that earn phase of life and that stabilization of that household. And w where do they want to live? You know, and then what I do is I turn my, you know, I turn that into a scientific formula and try to add value to the place that they live and make sure that there's wifi there. I make sure they have a safe place to lock up their kids' bikes. I make sure that they have a updated living space. And then those customers are stable. They're, they're happy in there. And then what they do is they, they pay right. You know, they, they, they pay their parent customers because they're satisfied customers.

Brett: Yeah. That, that makes 100% sense. And it's interesting to kind of, you know, take that perspective and that viewpoint and see, what's obviously feeding into these households and, you know, what's going to keep them able to, you know, pay and support their lifestyle.

Yusef: Okay. Yeah. I hope I'm giving up some nuggets too. I want people to have a perspective of, you know, there's so much information out there so much noise. You know, I, I'm not an, you know, a podcast celebrity or I don't, you know, put out content in the world, but most of the content in my industry is it doesn't even really connect to the you know, the, the value or the, you know, the, the, the, the, the exit of, of the investment. You know what I mean? It's just you know, I don't know, no money down. There's just all kinds of buzz words and stuff that's going around that have a lot of noise, but have nothing to do with what I'm doing or what we're doing this industry.

Brett: Oh, yeah. No, do, I mean, you see distractions every day and, you know, if, I mean, if you know what you're looking for, then you understand that there are just a lot of distractions out there. And a lot of things that don't hold a lot of credence.

Yusef: Yeah. That's one of the reasons I like this kind of long form conversation, because you can kind of talk about something and you can get a real grasp of, you know, what's going on. There is a, if information is what you look for, if understanding is what you're looking for, there's no buzzwords that, that can, it's not a fixed, you know, this isn't a quick fix type thing, get rich quick, fix, fix, and flip carpet and paint and carpet turn and burn. I see all kinds of stuff. I'm like, this stuff is weird. Oh yeah. Our talk.

Brett: Right. Well, and I think for most people that are, you know, seeking that information, hearing this as awfully refreshing from all that noise. But so in your line of work, obviously building partnerships and networking is a really crucial part of the business and the overall success. How do you approach networking?

Yusef: Well, I mean, that's a, you know, a moving target now because, you know, we're in a post pandemic where the net, you know, the, the network or the connectivity change drastically from 18 months ago. Right. So I, you know, right now I have thankfully I've you know, I wouldn't S I don't want to toot my own horn, but I have a pretty, pretty good track record. I have a pretty impressive track record. So, you know, my track record pretty much speaks for itself. If that track record is you know a determinant of, of how I'm going to operate as an unknown determining of what's going to happen in the future, but how I'm going to operate an asset and operate a business plan. Then, you know, there's a level of comfort that I can bring to a syndicated group of investors. So that, that in a nutshell is how I would network during the pandemic and kind of post pandemic until something, until things change.

Yusef: But before that, you know, you're just in the market, you, you know, you're, you're, you're, you're pitching you, you know, you're, you, you have pitch decks and you have assets. What I found in networking is when you are a producer, a creator of value, you can kind of attract a certain level of, you know, investor, or you can, you know, you can attract a certain level of, of a capital backing because all investments compete with each other. And if you have, if you are able to produce a legitimate investment, meaning a deal, then things can kind of, you can put things in place accordingly.

Brett: Yeah, certainly, certainly so more so obviously having your feelers out there and being a great contact, but more so letting your work speak for yourself and kind of attracting the, the, the right networks and the right people that you ultimately want to do business with through performance.

Yusef: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, there some other factors, I mean, if there are some new investors or some new business owners, or even business owners that kind of just want to remind themselves of, of, of what, what, you know, the impactful things in their business to create good partnerships is I became a deal finder like Maven for many, many, many, many, many years. People would call me and say, Hey, man, what are you? I know, you know, you got something in your pocket and are you gonna let me in on it or not? Because I know you, you know, you're out there sourcing deals. So that became my, I kind of climbed the fame, others, you know, Hey, you know what, they, they, they have a network of, of high net worth individuals and they belong to a certain group and they can kind of bring that to the to, to the the transaction the deal, the, the, the group of the high net worth individuals, and also the information. And that's one of the three components. My, my mentor taught me. He said, there's only three things to a deal and that's information, money, and the deal itself. So if you can bring any one of those components, you make yourself.

Brett: Okay. Okay. It really seems like your mentor and your time in that mentorship obviously set the foundation for your career and really helped guide you. How important do you think that was to yourself and what did that really mean to you?

Yusef: Well, I'll tell you, Brett you know, you turn a couple of dials on my, you know, my journey in, be it at a whole different stratosphere, and then you turn a couple dials on my journey and I can be, you know, where I am and not to say that one's bad. One's good. Right. So the dials that have been turned are thank goodness for someone seeing in me, things I didn't see in myself since that relationship was, was nurtured. I finally stepped into a place where I said, okay, I think I understand what, what, you know, person, a person was telling me that I didn't understand as a 16, 17, you know, 22 year old right now. That's very important to me, you know, for my children and my family are things, you know, opportunities. I get to say, Hey, I see something in you, you know, young entrepreneur, a young, young person that you may or may not see just yet. And if I can kind of be that window, that you can see it one day, then you know, that that's, my experience has been my experience.

Brett: Right. Right. And I think I think there's probably a lot of us, especially people my age and obviously younger that are kind of seem lost and wish that they maybe had a mentor. You know, the idea of having a mentorship, I feel like was really popular years ago and over time has maybe dwindled out, or maybe that's just my perspective on it, but it sounds like from your perspective having that and being able to pass it on is really, really important.

Yusef: Yes. Yes. And if I was, again, if I was speaking to, you know, millennials and, and, and, you know, the 25 to 35 year old population business owners, I would say mentorship is still strong and is still there. It's just the social connections. And the social approach had just blown out of the water. And when people think they can DM someone and now they have a mentor, you know, no, that's not how it works. She was still strong. Now it's just, again, I, you know, I hire and, you know, employ and, and different connections through a different generation, which I love the younger generation. And you guys have been handed a world. The world is at your fingertips, literally. So since the world is at your fingertips, you know, the social dynamic and the social connections are just, it's just a kind of a thing that's fallen to the wayside, which is that's not bad or good. It's just the way it, right. But if you seek mentorship, it is there for you. It is there, and it doesn't have to come in. Some, you know, everybody wants to find a dating app to find a mentor, right. That's not how it works.

Brett: Well, maybe that, Hey, that could be a million dollar idea as a mentorship Tinder for mentorship.

Yusef: Brett, there you go. You can do that together on the JIRA. I'll need your know-how.

Brett: Okay. So with your extensive knowledge and your experience in real estate, between working on acquisitions, property management, leasing operations, and sales and marketing, what were some of your favorite experiences from these roles and what were some key takeaways or lessons learned from these experiences? I know that's kind of a loaded question, so we can take it bit by bit.

Yusef: I mean, in the general sense, you gotta run your own business, you have to run your own business and you got to know the different levels of you. Don't have to be an expert in all of them. You don't have to be the smartest kind of tool in the tool shed, but you know, if you have a business and the business has the acquisitions, which is, that's how you move the needle, that's how the football moves and you, you know, you gain yards and then you also have to process those, those assets, meaning you have to market them and lease them. And then you have to put the right lending on them. And then you have to, you know, hire the right staff to, for the maintenance and the different things. You know, a person, a coach, or an executive or manager, you gotta know what's going on.

Yusef: So, you know, there is no other for me, you know, I'm, I'm not, again, the millennials, they're young. You guys can, man, you got an app for everything and it's great. Fantastic. I just am not that smart. So I have to know things so I can sleep at night knowing that if a mistake is made, it's on my watch. And then, you know, if I can, I can go attend it or I can give some support to make it happen. That's just, I don't know if that's old school. I don't know what it is, but that's just my only way of being able to run my business.

Brett: No, I mean, that makes sense. You want to obviously understand all aspects of your business and kind of everything that's going on. So that there's a good sense of, you know, quality control. Obviously you can let people that you work with have that sort of trust and flexibility to do what they think is best, but you still need to know what's going on to be able to guide and direct the business as a whole in the right direction.

Yusef: Absolutely. I couldn't have said it better myself, by the way, if there's some listeners saying to think, figuring out another way, I don't even really want to hear it because it's just my world. It doesn't exist because I meet people and they have a different, you know you know, kind of view of the world and how they, you know, offload things. It's just that that's not my reality.

Brett: Right. Well, I mean, you have obviously done very well in your career, so if it's not broke, don't fix it. Yeah. So swinging, swinging back around to what we were talking about earlier on kind of giving back you are a founding member and on the board of directors for the literacy project, tell us more about this nonprofit and how it got started.

Yusef: Well I was working with a teacher. Now that teacher is an entrepreneur that creates virtual reality content for students. Oh, wow. Yeah. So one of the things that, you know, working with the teacher that I found out was there's literacy, there's a word gap, and there's a literacy issue with childhood literacy. So the literacy project was something that, you know, he and I came up with to just it's an outreach program. However, we can outreach to a local library, a local school, a local community, and, and see where we can fill that word gap, whether it be donation of books, whether it be, you know, an online you know, relationship with, with someone that can, that can give more materials to that level of development of child. And you know, I have to spend a little bit more time in that to really, really kind of launch it the way that, or be involved in it, the way that I really want to, it's just, it's, you know, everything is a time issue for me now, but I I've, I think I hit a vein of need in the literacy of project that is definitely needs to be filled.

Yusef: And I'm also, you know, I'm looking for spokes, I'm looking for some, some people that are smarter than me in this space to, you know, help me, help me you know, facilitated it to even more.

Brett: Right. Right. Well, for us at The CE Shop, it's always great to see, you know, impactful individuals in the real estate industry, giving back to their communities. We have our own foundation that we help feel or help feed school children in the Denver Metro area. So, you know, when I was kind of doing my due diligence and researching up on you, it was really, really cool to see that you're so involved with the community and, you know, not just through this literacy project, but, you know, seeing stuff like this, it's just really important to highlight, I think. Yeah.

Yusef: Well, good for you and good for the work that you guys do.

Brett: Yeah. Well, are there any sort of closing remarks you have? Is there anything cool you're working on right now?

Yusef: Listen, I give, you know, folks my direct email address and if you want to kind of ping me and, you know, as I kind of get around to different things and, you know, we can connect and, you know, meet on different levels, whether it be on the level of the community outreach or be a level of, of, you know, discussing deals or be a level of, of, you know, maybe I can give some of my time and my resources to something that is in alignment with what someone else is doing in a different market. So I email, this is my name, you know, Y U S E F R E A P dot C A P I T A L and a yeah, that's not, it's going to kind of look me up and ping me if there's something interesting, you know, we'll, we'll, we'll, we'll chop it up and get to it.

Brett: That sounds great, man. Well, thank you so much Yusef for hopping on the podcast with me today. I think our listeners are really going to enjoy our conversation and, you know, the knowledge bombs that you literally just dropped on us. So I really appreciate your time.

Yusef: Thank you so much for having me. All right, guys. Thanks again.