Chuck Dannis: Dallas and SMU—We are Real Estate

Chuck Dannis

For my fellow bloggers in this column—and most certainly for its loyal readers—when I write that Dallas is “a real estate town,” everyone knows what I’m talking about. and everyone will agree with me.

Many of this country’s great real estate developers, brokers, investors and lenders are domiciled within 30 miles of D Magazine’s downtown Dallas headquarters: Crow, Lincoln, Hunt, DR Horton, Perot, Fraker, O’Boyle, Grunnah, HFF, and Beal, to name just a few. Couple these national industry leaders with an economy that puts Dallas-Fort Worth at or near the top of job growth, in migration and building starts, creates local real estate nirvana.

Given this ready access to both superb human real estate capital and robust real estate economic drivers, the timing was perfect for the announcement concerning Southern Methodist University’s initiative to create a world class institute in real estate education, research, and leadership. At last Wednesday’s spring meeting of the SMU Real Estate Society, the Dean of the Cox School of Business, Dr. Al Niemi Jr., announced to the more than 300 attendees that the school is “gassing-up” the Robert and Margaret Folsom Institute for Real Estate to create a real estate institute that will rival those found anywhere else in the country.

The Folsom Institute for Real Estate, for those of you who may not know, was created almost 30 years ago by a generous endowment from Bobby Folsom—SMU’s last three-sport letterman, former Mayor of Dallas, and the real estate developer widely credited with creating what is known today as the “Golden Corridor” (that land north of Interstate 635 between Preston Road and the Tollway).

Dean Niemi announced that a search committee has been formed to find an experienced and proven leader for the institute, and that Dr. Bill Brueggeman, co-author of the most widely used real estate finance text book in the world, will remain academic chair of Cox’s Real Estate Department.

In his comments, the dean highlighted what I noted above about Dallas being a real estate town. But it is also important to emphasize SMU has deep roots in the real estate community as well. Indeed, in the early 1950’s SMU was one of the first universities in the world to offer real estate education at the university level. Just look at the names on many of SMU’s buildings, departments, chairs and endowed gifts, and it reads like a who’s who of real estate: Crow, Dedman, Hunt, Corrigan and Miller, just to name a few.

And, as evidenced by the membership size of the SMU Real Estate Society, now the largest alumni group at Cox, with more than 700 members, many of the leading real estate companies in North Texas are owned or led by SMU alums, including Ebby Halliday Realtors, Northmarq Capital, L&B Realty Advisors, CB Richard Ellis—Americas, Capital Title, and all the other family companies mentioned above, again to cite just a few.

Of course there will be cycles, and things will change, but right now Dallas sure seems to be in the sweet spot of our country’s improving real estate market. And right here in the heart of Dallas is SMU: We are real estate.

Chuck Dannis is co-founder of Crosson Dannis Inc., which provides real estate appraisal and consultation services for many of the nation’s largest real estate lenders and owners. Contact him at [email protected]