Phoenix Realty Group Adds Two to West Coast Operations

Phoenix Realty Group has bolstered its Los Angeles office with the hiring of real estate vets R. Alex Saunders and Leslie Stephens.
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R. Alex Saunders

Los Angeles—Phoenix Realty Group has beefed up its Los Angeles office with the hiring of real estate vets R. Alex Saunders as managing director in the firm’s acquisitions group and Leslie Stephens as assistant vice president in the asset management group.

Saunders, one of the original co-founders of the firm’s Los Angeles office in 2003, is back with the company after taking some time off in 2012 to form a boutique multifamily company.

“I went through a nice run of almost 10 years and when I left, we had acquired quite a bit of real estate, but I decided I wanted to try something a little more entrepreneurial,” he tells MHN. “I partnered with a couple of different people and successfully bought some smaller transactions and those turned out to be good, and enjoyable.”

During his career, Saunders has originated and closed more than 35 transactions, which includes both joint-venture investments and direct acquisitions representing approximately $250 million of equity and over $800 million in real estate. In his new role, Saunders will lead the firm’s western region acquisition activities and help drive the growth of PRG’s established multifamily platform.

It was a mix of “pride of ownership,” “going back to something you are comfortable with” and “wanting to do bigger deals” that led him to his decision to return.

“My first step is to get everybody reacquainted with me and where I’m at on the sales side,” Saunders says. “As a company, we’re looking to do about $300 million of acquisitions this year. I’m looking primarily of everything west of Denver, but I’ll look at some select locations in Texas.”

A 1995 graduate of the University of California at Irvine, he received his master’s degree in real estate development from the University of Southern California in 2003.

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Leslie Stephens

With more than 17 years of asset management experience behind her, Stephens joins the firm as an assistant vice president of asset management and will be focused on maximizing the performance of PRG’s western region portfolio.

“I am looking forward to being involved with a company that has a such a forward vision for its properties and the courage to push the creative envelope,” Stephens tells MHN.  “PRG is known for making big improvements at their properties and providing a great living environment for residents.”

In her role, she will be responsible for strategically identifying operational issues and overseeing intensive value-added renovation programs to strengthen both short-term and long-term return on investment for properties across the western region.

“Property operations is a critical area for any portfolio, so I’ll be focused on leveraging my 30+ years of operations experience to also enhance value the traditional way,” she says.

Prior to joining PRG, Stephens served as the regional manager for Prime Group, Los Angeles, where she was responsible for more than 2,200 units. Previous positions include serving as a district manager for the commercial division of Nicolosi & Fitch in Tucson, Ariz., and as an asset manager at Sun America, Los Angeles.

“We are thrilled to have Alex back at PRG, and Leslie brings a solid track record of enhancing the return on investment,” Michael Fried, PRG’s founder and CEO, says. “Both are seasoned real estate pros who are integral to our ability to ramp up acquisitions in the West and take advantage of the current market.”