Conversations with: Dave Perry-Miller

First thing's first: he isn't retired.

Perry-Miller with the new logo for his company.

In the 2014 fiscal year Dave Perry-Miller and company sold just shy of 1.8 billion dollars worth of Dallas real estate. This speaks to how wonderfully the Dallas market is doing right now—homes are hot and people want to live here. I sat down with Perry-Miller (and his Portuguese Water Dog, Tucker) to talk about the company’s recent rebranding, how he got his start in the home selling business, and what he predicts for the 2015 real estate market.

How did you get started into the real estate business?

It was not a surprise. I can’t recall a time that I was not interested in houses and architecture, although I couldn’t exactly articulate it when I was 6 years old. I used to beg my parents to take me through houses that were being built. So when I was in college I originally started out as a commerce school major, but thank goodness for the world that ended very shortly. What I did do was take every architecture class that Washington and Lee offered. I moved here after graduating in 1980 and did something that was unusual – most people cannot, and do not, go into residential real estate right after college, especially in 1980. It was almost unheard of. But I did, and I very quickly realized that unlike the people around me that were selling a house, I was building my brand. Instead of taking whatever could come, I went after what I wanted and focused on that. I now have 5 offices and more than 300 agents. I will tell you my competitors have told people that I’m retired. That’s something I battle with a lot because I do have some houses out of town. This business is a passion that I have, and I am not retired.

What do you love about working in real estate?

It’s a wonderful combination of three things: working with something that you love, which for me is houses, architecture, and craftsmanship, working with wonderful people, and working with unique houses and people who are all different. People who are selling a standard commodity can work with a script—we can’t work with a script, it doesn’t work with the kind of clientele I’ve cultivated. What you have to do is listen to what is really important about the house, and what is important to the client, then connect the dots.

What do you find frustrating?

I think one of the hardest things that we have to work through is managing a seller’s expectations. We want to get the highest price that we can, but it’s very easy for a seller to be interested in a person who tells them the highest price. We come to a seller and say “this is what we think your property should be sold at and here’s why” not “how much do you want for the house?” I think that is one of our biggest hurtles: when we don’t get listings because we have told people an accurate price.

Why did you decide to do a rebranding of your company?

Years ago one of my father’s good friends gave me some very sound advice. He said, “Dave, when you are your own company and your own entity, every day that you wake up you are either going into business or you are going out of business. But if you think you are staying the same, you are really going out of business and you just don’t know it.” This was a time when all of our clients were redoing their houses to make things much more crisp and tailored and editing things to have more of a modern, streamlined look. Some of the agents thought that the sign, which is now 8 years old, needed to be a little more crisp and updated. So we listened to our agents and hired the Richards Group, the best agency in town, and they came up with something that was really terrific.

What are you looking forward to for 2015?

We expect 2015 to be very good. We are coming off of two exceptional industry years. Sometimes that’s hard to beat, but our interest is in market share. The agents are really fired up about the new logo and the new look, and I am too. It’s really a wonderful time to have a departure into a new chapter that takes it to a new level.

What’s your favorite style of architecture? 

Right now I would say that there is an enormous shift toward modern houses. That being said, I personally gravitate toward houses that were built prior to the Second World War. I think there is a level of craftsmanship and soul to the house, which takes a long time to create.

What is something you looked for when you purchased your last home?

Well, I may be doing that soon actually. I probably will be getting something that is a little bit smaller, I currently live on half an acre in Bluffview. I have been there since I was 34 years old, and I think I want something newer, and a little bit smaller. I also have one of the last little houses in Knox-Henderson, which I bought years ago. I would probably renovate that house to make it somewhat modern. So what I’m looking for is a house I can renovate in a way that is compatible with the original house and has a little less upkeep.

What are some of the most memorable houses you have sold?

I have had really quite a few exceptional homes. I sold a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home, I sold a house that was designed by Phillip Johnson that is back on the market. One of my favorite houses that I ever sold was a house on Beverly Drive in the 1940’s. it is one of the most wonderful homes I have ever been in. It wasn’t on the open market and I sold it to a client and thought this was a house that should stay in the family forever and ever.


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