Cliff Kessler is a Dallas transplant by way of Los Angeles, and the luxury real estate agent is making a name for himself as the owner of Cowboy Surf Estates.
Perhaps this is because has picked up on something essential about working real estate in Dallas: It’s all about relationships.
“It’s about the name, and I feel like the first thing people ask is, ‘Who is your family? Who’s your dad?’ I’ve made so many connections over a game of golf here, or taking someone to lunch,” he said. “Whereas in L.A., it’s all about marketing, websites, someone doing a blog.”
Kessler closed $3 million last year in his inaugural year in Dallas in 2015, and is looking at $22 million in pending real estate in 2016.
“This is a fantastic market, and I’m seeing a lot of sales through pocket listings, like in Lakewood, the M Streets, and parts of Highland Park,” he said. “Things are so hot here, you’re getting eight offers on a pocket if it’s priced right.”
Kessler’s family is military, moving around a lot during his childhood. An uncle in Dallas meant summers in North Texas, so he got to know people and places here. After studying real estate at UCLA, Kessler spent a few years working in the entertainment industry.
“I made a bunch of connections in the luxury market and developed a repertoire of luxury properties by hanging out with these people,” he said. “I went to UCLA for college and three years ago, I switched from talent to real estate.”
In Los Angeles, Kessler began working with Keller Williams, and became one of the top-selling agents in his office—his first listing was a $5-million home on the beach in Malibu. Kessler decided to start a global business, became licensed in multiple states (including Texas), started Cowboy Surf Estates, and decided to focus primarily on luxury properties from the ranch to the ocean.
“I’m keeping my team in L.A. with Keller Williams—I’ve got four listings there now and I’m flying back and fourth now,” he said. “I chose to work with Allie Beth Allman out of 50 different brokers in Dallas—I thought they had the best of what I was looking for with the luxury market and having a team atmosphere.”
That uncle that Kessler spent time with in Dallas? He’s Jeff Allen, executive vice president of the commercial division of Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management, and formerly a VP for CBRE Realty Investors. He’s a long-time Dallas Realtor, and a man of many relationships in this market. He’s been invaluable for Kessler as he starts his own business in Dallas.
“I get a lot of business and meetings through him,” Kessler said.
Kessler has some big listings now, including the double-lot mansion at 5045 Royal Creek Ln. in Plano. This $6.335 million property was designed by architect Fred Wynn and has six bedroom, five full bathrooms, four half bathrooms and 13,406 square feet. Another property about to hit the market is $3 million on Drexel Drive in Highland Park.
But Kessler personal favorite area? Where he lives.
“I live in Lakewood and my kids go to Lakewood Elementary,” he said. “It’s an eclectic mix of people and houses—it’s a cool vibe there and they’re redeveloping the shopping centers to make them more modern.”
Kessler is keeping his eye on the future, and focusing on creating relationships in Dallas to further his business.
“Word of mouth been everything here—in L.A., I did more open houses and met more clients that way,” he said. “Here, I take more people out to lunch or dinner or I go to an event like a golf game, you talk to someone, meet people in the groups, and branch out from there.”