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‘You See Recession, I See Opportunity’

Wave Newspapers, News Feature, Olu Alemoru Posted: Aug 08, 2008

An African-American real estate magnate sees an opening to profit from the spiraling U.S. housing market.

There is no shortage of gloom in the Southern California housing market, as one key indicator recently saw home values in Los Angeles fall 24.5 percent from a year ago.

But those spiraling fortunes are helping Barrington Malcolm build a dynasty.

Malcolm, 42, runs Dynasty Dynamics, Inc., a multimillion dollar, privately owned property company that keeps a low profile, but has been a major player in the high-stakes California real estate market for more than 20 years.

Dynasty owns a major portfolio of properties, including houses, condos, apartment complexes and commercial buildings stretching from West Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley, as well as interests in San Diego, Nevada and Arizona.

Malcolm is quickly becoming the California banker’s best friend, acquiring properties at significant discounts and remodeling them for sale at a profit. While everyone is running away from the storm, he heads straight into it.

For instance, in June, Malcolm bought a house in Leimert Park for $249,000, and within four weeks the remodeled property was listed for $439,000. Right now his company is in negotiations to buy four properties at the Cove Condominiums in Marina Del Rey; the high-rise luxury apartments, which people were snapping up for a $1 million-plus, are now going for half that.

“You see recession,” said Malcolm, “I see opportunity.”

Known as “Barry” to family and friends, Malcolm has come a long way from his humble beginnings. As the name suggests, Dynasty is a family business. Malcolm runs it with his wife, Shawannah, and his three children — who are all currently in college — were raised to work alongside their parents.

But for “The Barrington,” who runs his operation from the family home on a private estate in Tarzana, this is just the beginning.

“It may seem weird, but I’m still looking for my first big deal,” said Malcolm. “I’m happy for the things I’ve done and raising our three children, but I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I want to achieve.”

His big dream is to build a world-class resort, the kind that might be discussed in the same breath as a Grace Bay Sands in the Caribbean, or Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago beach club in Florida.

“We all have dreams, but I believe you have to execute them,” said Malcolm. “When I started out I got a lot of doors slammed in my face, but every no got me closer to a yes.”

In fact, Malcolm, who was born in Belize and moved to Compton when he was 3, credits much of his determination and success to his mother, a former nurse who raised three children on her own.

“I saw her work multiple jobs,” recalled Malcolm. “As kids we had our little scuffs, but she ruled with an iron fist. We feared her more than the police. When I was 13 we moved to Crenshaw and I was bused to Westchester. I saw kids with things we couldn’t afford, but I said to myself: ‘One day.’”

That day was some years off, but the seeds were sown when at 17, Malcolm saw an infomercial for a real estate seminar with tips for investing with no money down.

“I didn’t have the money to attend but I decided to go anyway,” said Malcolm. “After sneaking in the back door and walking across the stage, I found a seat in the front row.”

He added: “I had confidence in myself, so I got a list of foreclosures of people in Compton and South-Central and let them know I buy houses. The logic was to make them a lower offer for the property and they would sign it over to you. Then you would refinance it, paying off what they owe and making a small profit for you to do again.”

That was the theory, but in reality banks weren’t about to loan tens of thousands of dollars to a teenager. Even though Malcolm had bought about eight houses by the time he was 18, he would ultimately lose them all.

However, he wised up very quickly, and realized there were private investors who could help. Armed with his gift for negotiating a deal, he has never looked back.

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