Real Estate Story

Tell Me Your Real Estate Story: Photographer Networks To Land Rare Junius Heights Duplex

Andrew Sherman, photographer/videographer and owner of drewliophoto.com outside his newly purchased Junius Heights duplex.

Photographer and videographer Andrew Sherman is a regular fixture at Deep Ellum’s hottest music venues. He can often be spotted snapping shots of Dallas’ hottest live acts at Deep Ellum Art Co. on Commerce Street. So when this talented artist was looking to leave the apartment life behind, he had a few requirements that almost threw a wrench in his dream of homeownership.

“I had two main goals,” said Sherman, owner of Drewliophoto.com. “I wanted a room big enough to turn into a home photo studio, and I wanted a duplex. This is my first house and budget was a big concern. I basically just had my eye on the East Dallas neighborhoods.  I didn’t have a preference on old or new house, but I really love the fact that its over 100 years old — I mean its the ultimate in recycling!”

It was pure luck that brought Sherman to Ebby Halliday Realtor Amanda Christensen and then to the duplex of his dreams.

“There aren’t many full duplexes for sale in the Dallas area below $500,000, so demand is really high,” Christensen said. “Many people love the idea of an income-producing property because they can live in one side and bring in an income to help offset their living expenses on the other side. I set the expectation right away with Andrew so that he understood what we needed to do to submit a competitive offer when he found one he was interested in, because there may not be another chance for a while.”

Amanda Christensen

Lo and behold, it was an off-market listing that netted Sherman the perfect Junius Heights historic duplex. The seller was an acquaintance of Christensen’s partner on the commercial real estate side, Grant English with Venture Commercial, and was entertaining the idea of selling his next-door duplex. Sherman and Christensen had burned through all the available properties on MLS, so options were getting thin.

“Grant is a Realtor and a friend who I have taken photos of and for some of his commercial properties,” Sherman explained. “He met the owner at a coffee shop and got to chatting. It turned out this man had a duplex he was getting ready to put on the market, and Grant convinced him to let me see it before he put it on the market. Once we walked the property I was in love!”

Even better is that the property was exceptionally well taken care of, Christensen said.

“Another challenging aspect of the house hunt was that the areas Andrew was looking in offer older historic homes, and many of them need a lot of work,” she said. “We happened to luck out because the person he bought his house from is a contractor and took care of his home. He was also willing to make repairs needed that were found during inspections.”

Though it was a lucky find, the road to closing wasn’t without its bumps. 

“We were dealing with a for sale by owner — no offense to anyone, but they can be really tricky to maneuver, especially if they are inexperienced and don’t have a realistic understanding of the current market,” Christensen said. “However we really lucked out because our seller is a great guy. He has a realistic pulse on the market and has bought and sold many homes on his own. He owned this home and the home next door for over 40 years, and it was very important to him that his good reputation in the neighborhood stay intact and that the buyer of his home was happy.”

But it was Christensen’s solid negotiating skills that helped seal the deal.

“Even with his experience buying and selling homes, he thought initially that his home was worth more than it was, so the toughest part of the negotiation process was getting him to see the true value,” she explained. “I had many conversations with him, going over comparable sold property, which made negotiations lengthy but we were able to settle on a reasonable price.”

And at the end of the day, Sherman and his cat, Keybar, have a home base for all of their adventures in one of the largest historic districts in all of Dallas. 

“Junius Heights is kind of beyond my expectations as far as a charming, quiet neighborhood with tons of character,” Sherman said.