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Industry Experts on Dallas’ ‘Next Golden Age’

CEOs and real estate pros share their thoughts on development, corporate relocations, and what the future holds in North Texas.
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Photo by John McStravick, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Throughout the year, the editors of D CEO moderate a number of real estate-related panel discussions. In a market that’s moving this fast, staying up to speed on trends and developments is critical for success. Fortunately, North Texas is home to some of the greatest minds in the industry, and these forums offer an opportunity to learn from the best. Here, we’ve pulled together excerpts from some of the compelling conversations we’ve had in 2014. To find out about programs planned for 2015, check the calendar of upcoming events section of our news site, D Real Estate Daily.

Luxury Residential Real Estate Breakfast Briefing

Corporate relocations were a big topic at this November event hosted by D CEO at The Warwick Melrose Hotel. Among the panelists were Robbie Briggs, president and CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International, and Erin Mathews, executive vice president of Allie Beth Allman & Associates and founding partner of Mathews Nichols Group. 

Robbie Briggs: “We’re very fortunate to be living in Texas. The luxury market is very strong. When you have companies like Toyota and others moving into the city, with the great numbers of employees they have, it has a huge impact on everything. When Toyota made its announcement, 30 other companies also started calling the Dallas Regional Chamber. … Many of the companies that are relocating here are coming from areas where they do a lot of commuting. So when you see a corporation like Toyota come in and you see where the headquarters is going, you think they’re all going to move to Frisco. Well, we sold the CEO of Toyota a home in Westlake, the head of the legal department in Uptown, and another gentleman, a ranch. These executives are used to major drives in California or New York. There isn’t a commute in Dallas that equals anything they’ve experienced. So the relocations affect the entire region. … My son has moved back to China, where he’s working for us, sourcing Chinese investors. We go to a lot of international cities and tout what’s happening in Dallas. Investors can make millions of dollars here. You do not have to go to California; you do not have to go to New York. In fact, our tax structures and business climate—everything is better here. And they’re listening. … There’s an investor from Dubai out in Frisco. I called on him in January, just knowing that he was one of the wealthiest men in the Middle East. I walked into his office and he had pictures on the wall of him with Rick Perry. He had a football signed by Jerry Jones on his desk. Here I think I’m coming to talk with him about Texas, and he tells me, ‘Well, I bought 60 acres in Frisco and I’m developing it.’ It’s phenomenal. Dallas is right at the center of what’s happening internationally. … The under $1 million market is not being tapped, in my opinion. I think there’s an opportunity where if someone can come in and build some product for the upwardly mobile and empty nesters—they’re both looking for that product and they can’t find it. Particularly the empty-nester. There still is a dearth of what people in my age group want. They want walkability, they want to be in a fun neighborhood. They don’t want five stories, they want one story. And they also want some green space. Maybe they don’t want to own it, but they want to be right by it. There is a real niche that’s not being tapped and has not been tapped for years.”

Erin Mathews: “I know the big talk in the market is about Toyota and the larger companies moving here, but what I’m seeing, and I know many of my colleagues are seeing, are what I call the “quiet moves.” These companies, perhaps family-owned, are coming from California, bringing the father and multiple generations of a family, securing office space and buying multimillion-dollar homes in Highland Park. The thing that makes our market so strong is that it’s not just the big splashy names; it’s the undercurrent of this enormous migration into our market. We’re certainly seeing it at the higher end. And as those people bring their companies, they bring a lot of rank and file. Then they hire when they get here. So it’s just great for our market on a million different levels. … We also have a very diversified group of companies. It’s not just an oil and gas world. I think outside of Texas, that’s what so many people think of us. There are medical facilities here in Dallas that are bringing in doctors and researchers from all over the world. There are industries out there that I didn’t even know existed. People coming here from New York and California, particularly, and they are shocked every time. The expectation is that Dallas is just a bunch of rubes, and I think they’re surprised at the level of sophistication and diversity here. It says a lot about our culture and the city that we live in. … What I’ve noticed, because I help first-time homebuyers and empty-nesters and everything in between, is that they all—I call it the ‘HGTV generation’—they think they’ll just come in and everything is going to be perfect and they won’t have to drive a nail. If it’s not new, they want it to be like-new. And anything other than that is, to me, is the most sluggish part of the market … I’m not seeing any sort of slowdown when it comes to land in the Park Cities. It’s still just red hot. You see these little old ladies trot out the ‘For Sale By Owner’ signs out there. And you call on those lots to find out what they’re asking, and they’re asking numbers that make you have to pull over to the side of the road. Then you’ll call her three or four days later, and sure enough, she’s got five offers and she’s thinking about them. Depending on the streets—and even so finite as the portion of the street where people want to be—it’s a crazy world out there.”

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