The residential real estate firm he co-founded with his wife, Allie Beth Allman, has just hit the $1 billion mark in sales for the fifth straight year, and the summer isn’t even over yet. So Pierce Allman has plenty to smile about when we meet for lunch in the Sports Grill at the Dallas Country Club.
Clad in a light-yellow silk jacket, khaki-colored slacks, and wing-tip bucks, Allman—a trim 82-year-old who looks 10 years younger, at least—says he’s going to go for the grill’s buffet option. Back at our table, his plate laden with finger sandwiches, grilled-chicken slices, and quinoa salad, I ask him how business has been going at Allie Beth Allman & Associates. The company, whose 360 agents focus on the Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and North and East Dallas, was acquired last year for an undisclosed sum by Warren Buffett’s HomeServices of America Inc.
“Business is good,” Allman says. “This is a bull market for residential real estate, and I think it’s going to remain that way for another five or 10 years. It’s almost impossible to build a home for under $200,000, because of the cost of land and materials. But when builders bring in homes in the $350,000 to $750,000 range, they’re selling just like that!”
Allman’s choice of the Dallas Country Club for our lunch was a natural.
On the other hand, he says, the $3 million-and-up market has slowed. How come? “Traditional election-year uncertainty,” Allman replies. “Some of it is energy-related, too. Plus, if you’re selling a luxury home that’s not new, that’s tough right now. The buyers in that market want new construction—or newish, at least.”
Allman’s choice of the country club for our lunch was a natural. He’s been a member for several years. The location and parking are convenient, he explains, and the service is fast and courteous. In addition, he offers, you can “sit down and visit” without the noise levels found at many Dallas restaurants. But the venerable location was also apt because of who Allman is: a polite, well-bred, quintessential Dallasite of the old school.
He attended Highland Park High School, for example, while earning a whopping 104 merit badges as a Boy Scout. (That made him the highest-ranking Scout in the country at the time.) After graduation he went to Southern Methodist University, where he served as head cheerleader and earned a B.A. degree in radio/TV. Stints as a deejay at radio stations like KBOX and WRR followed, before he was named manager of programming and production at WFAA.
There, Allman had a “Dallas experience” for the ages: encountering Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas School Depository building, moments after President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963. Rushing into the building, Allman asked “a guy standing in the doorway” where the phone was, and Oswald—Allman didn’t know who he was then—jerked his thumb and said, “In there!” Allman told him, “Thank you,” and moments later phoned in a live news report from the scene.
He went on to work as director of alumni affairs for SMU, to establish the public affairs division at the Tracy-Locke agency, and to found his own marketing firm before starting the realty company with Allie Beth in 2003. The couple, who’ve been married 52 years this month, will serve on Oct. 24 as co-chairs of the 15th Annual Celebration of Reading Dallas/Fort Worth, presented by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. There are two reasons why that makes sense: Allie Beth sold Barbara’s son, former president George W. Bush, his home in Preston Hollow. And Allie Beth herself has struggled with the reading disorder called dyslexia since she was a child.
Philanthropy and community service are important to Pierce, who’s also been a fellow at the Dallas Historical Society and served on the boards of the S.M. Wright Foundation, the Old Red Museum, and the Park Cities Historical Society. “It’s like we tell our agents: ‘If you’re going to live in a community, you need to be part of the community,’” the old-school Dallas gentleman says. “You give where you live.”