Alexander Radosevic currently owns and manages more than $2 billion in commercial real estate, but he was not born into money. In fact, he started working at his family’s retail store when he was eight years old, and he has had his nose to the grindstone since that time. This Beverly Hills-based property investor spoke with Joe Fairless about some of his experiences and his strong desire to give back to others who aspire to rise up as successful investors.
Long before Alexander Radosevic launched his investing business, Canon Business Properties, he worked in commercial finance at Lehman Brothers. Some of the many property types that his business manages and owns today are hotels, retail, industrial, and residential real estate. The company is also active in construction, construction management, and debt financing. One of the reasons he made the transition from a financing executive to an active entrepreneur and investor is because his current side of the business is far more lucrative.
While Alexander was propelled into commercial real estate through market conditions, a passion for earning, and motivation from those who were already active in the industry, he had to find the right property to invest in. He identified 2.5 acres of land in Laughlin, Nevada before the area was the mecca that it is today. Upon selling the property, he turned a profit. That profit was seed money for his future real estate investments.
One of his first major projects was the rehabilitation of an abandoned, fire-damaged bakery in South Central Los Angeles. This 40,000-square-foot commercial building had been damaged in the 1994 riots, so Radosevic saw both risk and reward as he ventured into it. He could only obtain 40% loan-to-value financing, so he had to come up with 60% upfront. He ultimately cleaned up the building, converted it into a nine-unit warehousing and manufacturing property, and turned a great profit.
When Alexander Radosevic reflects on what has helped him grow his business from a fledgling startup to its current level of success, he quickly cites due diligence. Specifically, he focuses his research on his personal investments and for his clients on financing, management, marketplaces, and cash flow. These are researched in relation to what he or his clients want to achieve through the deal. Digging deeper into marketplaces or locations, he focuses on retail properties in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. For industrial properties, he has a wider scope and looks at properties in major cities close to airports. While Radosevic focuses on a variety of commercial property types, his investing activities in industrial properties have consistently been among his most lucrative over the last 15 years.
As a recent example, Radosevic identified a great opportunity in the construction of small boutique hotels. After an extensive search, their client found the perfect piece of land on the coast of California. It was originally zoned for a different use, and it took them several years to get their rezoning request approved. This process was in combination with challenges related to the Coastal Commissions regulations and interests.
Radosevic states that many people may have thrown in the towel at some point in the lengthy process, but persistence is key in these situations. His client specifically benefited from his team’s experience in hotel development and operation. With this in mind, Radosevic believes that professional expertise in niche areas is sometimes critical for getting deals done.
The project is still in the works as they are trying to get approval for 131 hotel rooms, and they are currently only approved for 101 rooms. He anticipates that the project will take another four years before the details are finalized and construction is complete.
Alexander Radosevic has worked on many projects that have yielded a tremendous profit in far less time. In fact, one of his earlier projects was 32 acres in San Diego. He intended to carve the land into small acreage estates and create a 16-home residential community. When he asked a client to help him develop the land, however, the client advised him to create the parcels, lay utilities, install streets, and sell the individual parcels. Ultimately, he was able to turn a $130,000 profit on each parcel he sold without spending the time and effort to build on them because of the advice he received.
When Radosevic looks at real estate investing on a larger scale, he talks about buying and holding land longer than what other people may hold it for. He says there is often a rush to sell a property and trade up, but there may be a multifold profit if you hang onto that property for a little longer.
When he looks for land investment opportunities, he specifically looks at the top five U.S. markets for living and working. These are areas with true growth and where financing is usually readily available. More than that, the properties are in demand, so they are usually relatively easy to sell when he is ready to do so. However, when he looks at other property types, he has other criteria as well. Industrial properties, for example, are most ideal in areas close to airports and in areas that have tax benefits.
Alexander Radosevic attributes his success to hard work, his focus on due diligence, and plenty of luck. He built his multibillion-dollar business from the ground up, and he has a passion for helping other aspiring investors establish their roots as well. Specifically, he strives to offer one-on-one guidance to those who work for him or to those he comes in contact with in various capacities on details.
Going forward, Radosevic will continue to apply the principles that he has developed to his efforts, such as a focus on due diligence and market research, as he continues growing his commercial real estate business and helping others.