Entering the real estate world was a no-brainer for Alvin Hope Johnson. Since high school, he’s been working in, or in the industry supporting and surrounding, real estate. From starting as a painter’s helper, Alvin quickly climbed the ranks, and now is the proud owner of his own real estate development company.
“Real estate was quite naturally a good fit for me,” Alvin says.
While in hindsight, the path to Alvin’s success may look like a straight shot, the reality is actually a storied history. After his first opportunity as a painter fizzled out as a result of his boss going out of business, Alvin took the entrepreneurial spirit onto himself and began knocking on doors, selling his skill as a painter on his own. Door knocking eventually led to meeting a General Contractor who was able to offer Alvin a commercial hotel job. This was a big turning point for Alvin, as by 22, he was a millionaire. His success was short lived, however, and in just 2 years, he was broke.
“A few years later, after starting my construction company back, I went on to start a couple of successful mortgage companies. After the real estate crisis in 2008, I had an opportunity to meet a guy who became a friend and mentor,” Alvin recalls.
His new mentor owned and managed an organization with over $1.5 billion in assets, represented by around 16 thousand apartments. Alvin kept asking for an opportunity to work with him, and though his persistence, he eventually agreed. Alvin started as a volunteer, and just over a year later, was president of the foundation. After his assignment ended, he moved on with a few peers from that organization.
“From zero dollars of investment and zero experience, we have built an entity that has a balance sheet of about $150 million dollars. I’ve truly started from the lowest of lows to helping to fulfill other’s dreams of having a nice place to live. It has been a real journey of tenacity and the relentless pursuit of being the best version of myself possible,” Alvin says.
Through his journey, Alvin is now able to focus on his own real estate business which builds new and buys existing apartments. Though his position is quite stable now, as he reflects on his path to his current state, he’s able to pinpoint the real challenges he had to face and overcome. Mainly, he cites access to capital as a difficult barrier to overcome when you’re first venturing into a new business or a start-up.
“The biggest obstacle today has been overcoming the lack of capital. We have had to find ways to be creative and partner with others that have the resources we need and provide them with something they didn’t have,” Alvin says.
To overcome these challenges, Alvin focuses internally. His mindset, he believes, is always correct, so it’s important to be selective in what you’re choosing to think.
“In my opinion, mindset is everything. If you believe you can achieve, then you are absolutely correct and if you believe you can’t, you’re absolutely correct,” Alvin outlines.
Not only does Alvin focus on what he can change from the inside, but he thinks about his external circumstances as well, and how he can best arrange himself in his industry and community for success.
“I believe that our alignments are more important than our assignments, so getting with the right people, in the right place at the right time is vital to your success, as it was for mine,” Alvin outlines.
Alvin’s success is characterized by his freedom to follow his desires on his own terms. In the coming year, Alvin is looking forward to starting his 108 unit Class A project in May of 2021, which will be the first ground-up construction project he’s done. Altogether, they’ll be working towards 20,000 units in 5 years.