This year has already been a great one for Dawn Moore, founder and CEO of Allegiance Title. Not only has her company closed on the largest residential sale the North Texas market has seen in two years—a $16 million home in University Park—it also closed on the largest statewide commercial deal, a $1.5 billion expansion of Panda Power Funds’ energy plant in Temple.
Both came about due to long-term relationships Moore and her team have developed over the years.
The Wichita, Kan., native first realized she had an aptitude for real estate when property classes at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law were the only classes she enjoyed. Moore had taken a semester-long leave of absence from Wellesley College to see what her older brothers, both SMU students, were enjoying so much. Her semester became a year, and a year turned into a transfer.
“I fell in love with SMU, then fell in love with Dallas, and fell in love with my husband,” Moore says.
After graduating from law school, Moore spent two years at a Dallas law firm, then worked another year with a title company before going off on her own to concentrate on real estate transactions. She was approached about starting a title agency in 1995, and what would become Allegiance Title (it was renamed in 2000) was born.
In 2003, the company was acquired by First American Financial Corp., a national underwriter that gave Moore an offer she couldn’t refuse—and required her to sign a contract pledging that she’d stay on board for five years. She bought back the Allegiance Title name in 2009, and relaunched it as an independent, locally owned concern. Moore began with three offices. By the end of 2012, she had 22 offices and nearly triple the orders and volume.
“I’d like to say I’m a great visionary, but sometimes timing is everything,” she says, laughing. “If you do this business right, there’s not a whole lot of risk exposure.”
Moore grew the agency “slowly and strategically,” focusing on customer service. She used resources that she had saved from the 2003 sale to First American, and relied on a core group of experienced professionals. In 2010, she made a flurry of new hires, as the market was still in the doldrums and top revenue producers became available.
“I kept hiring and growing with the right people, so by 2011 as the market started changing ... we were poised to just take off,” Moore says. From 2011 to the end of 2012, Allegiance Title experienced exponential growth across all divisions, including a lender services group that was added in 2009.
Moore attributes her company’s success to favorable market conditions—and the reputation her agency enjoys in the real estate community. Allegiance works with seven different underwriters and serves all of the major real estate brokerages in town. Among them is Virginia Cook Realtors, a professional relationship that has spanned 20 years.
Some title companies are “over-managed and under-led,” says Virginia Cook, CEO. Moore is able to balance the two. “She is a great manager on a day-to-day basis with her staff, but she also is a great leader,” Cook says. “Leaders have vision, and they are empowering to those who walk with them.”
Moore credits her team for Allegiance Title’s success. The Panda Energy deal came about, for example, through Traci Miller, executive vice president of commercial operations, who has had a relationship with the power plant company for many years. Moore’s leadership strategy involves hiring managers like Miller who also produce—avoiding top-heavy layers of staff who manage numbers rather than bring in revenue.
Looking ahead, Moore sees opportunities to advance the company’s educational resources for customers, and is looking at opening new branch offices in other major markets across Texas, through both organic expansion and acquisition. She also intends to push the differences between Allegiance Title and local competitors that have recently been snapped up by larger concerns.
“It gives me an opportunity to capitalize on that, as they change toward the large-company model, of having to do certain systems their way, and not being as flexible to customize,” she says.