Royal Crest Apartments, as shown on AmeriSouth’s website.

Jeremy “Jay” Scroggins pleaded guilty Tuesday to funneling alleged bribes from real estate developer Ruel Hamilton to the late former city council person Carolyn Davis.

Hamilton, the AmeriSouth Realty Group founder and CEO, was indicted in March on two counts of bribery. Davis pleaded guilty to taking bribes from him that same month.

Davis admitted to taking bribes while she was Housing Committee chair, sometime between November 2013 and June 2015. Her plea agrees that she took $40,000 from a developer for her assistance in getting an affordable housing project passed. (more…)


Photo courtesy Dallas Fire and Rescue

Although it’s currently unclear just when the blaze began, reports began to appear around 2 a.m. Tuesday that the currently vacant Ambassador Hotel was in flames.

Dallas Fire and Rescue arrived to find the second and third floors burning, and by 2:15 a.m., the structure was fully involved. It appears that more than 45 units responded to the four-alarm blaze, according to a rough count of the active call list on the DFR website.

What remained in the light of day was heartbreaking.

The building was vacant, so there were no injuries. There had been reports early on about the potential cause of the blaze being attributed to a transformer blowing, but Dallas Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans said that may not be the case.

“During the course of fire suppression efforts a transformer in front of the hotel blew, but I never heard any reports indicating power lines to be down before that point,” he said Tuesday morning. “As far as the cause is concerned, it is currently undetermined.”

“Considering the amount of damage done by the fire, debris left by it and the likelihood that the amount of debris will only increase when the rest of the structure is demolished,  the chances are slim that investigators could get the access that would allow them to fully examine the evidence they’d need to in order to rule anything out,” Evans added.

“We’re just west of it at The Beat – 1001 Belleview St,” said Facebook user Darlene Schneider, who shared this photo taken by her husband, Roman Montemayor, around 1:30 a.m.

A Youtube user captured this video (you may want to leave the sound off).

Dallas Fire and Rescue officials said the 9-1-1 calls came in shortly after 1:30 a.m. The building appeared to be a total loss. Nearly simultaneously, fire crews were battling blazes at the 600 block of South Harwood Street and the 1800 block of Corsicana Street. Reportedly, the roof of another hotel on Harwood caught fire after embers from the Ambassador fire fell there, but was quickly put out by firefighters. (more…)

Compass will likely announce the acquisition of California-based Pacific Union National Realty on Thursday, Inman reported Tuesday (photo courtesy Pacific Union Facebook page).

Compass continues to widen its swath of acquisitions as word came today that it is nearing a deal to snap up Pacific Union National Realty, an independent brokerage operating in California.

News of the prospective acquisition by Compass came this afternoon on the real estate news site Inman.

Pacific Union recently launched PrivateView, a public portal that allows users to see listings from the moment they’re put into contract, as they’re being prepared for sale. “This allows buyers to engage earlier in the sales process with sellers and their representatives,” the company said in a press release, adding that they felt this ability would be especially valuable in places like the San Francisco Bay area, where inventory is tight. (more…)

UPDATEIn a press conference held by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the IRS, and the FBI, it was revealed that Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway has pleaded guilty this morning to tax evasion and conspiracy to commit honest services/wire fraud.

The councilman, who had been term limited out of office and then ran again against Carolyn King Arnold last year, also said in court this morning that he had resigned his seat, effective immediately.

U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox told reporters that Force Multiplier Solutions’ Robert Leonard provided kickbacks, bribes, and other benefits to the tune of $450,000 to Caraway, all related to easing the way for Dallas County Schools’ school bus camera program. (more…)

ZillowIn a bid to be all the things, Zillow announced just minutes ago that it has launched new tools that will not only allow property owners and managers to collect rent and vet prospective tenants more easily, but will also provide renters with the ability to submit multiple applications for apartments at once and pay rent online.

The tools will also screen prospective tenants by performing background checks, the company said in a press release. (more…)

Oak Lawn Heights

A hail of early morning gunfire disrupted and terrified residents on one street in Oak Lawn Heights Sunday (photos courtesy Sharmin Ashtaputre)

Sharmin Ashtaputre’s family has never really felt unsafe in their Oak Lawn Heights neighborhood in the four years they’ve lived there. But early Sunday morning, that sense of safety was shattered as bullets rained down in their daughter’s nursery.

“At 5:30 a.m. today, we were woken up by what sounded like fireworks,” Ashtaputre said. “Well, it was two moving cars shooting at each other, and they picked our street.”

“My husband and I woke up within the first couple of shots and there were over 40.” (more…)

After a busy three days of panel discussions, networking and writing, the National Association of Real Estate Editors — or NAREE — announced Friday night that writers Jon Anderson and Bethany Erickson both took home awards for their reporting last year.

Anderson took home a Bronze Award for his breaking news story on the Friday night blaze that destroyed the Pink Wall’s Preston Place condos. His reporting was continuously updated through the night and next day as more than 100 firefighters battled the fire that left many displaced. (more…)

This story has been updated with reports from Monday’s all company meeting at The Star, where Candy Evans was the only media

Ebby Halliday Realtors announced the news to a swarming audience of 1,700 agents today at 2 p.m. They chose the Star in Frisco what other facility would hold so many?  to break the news that the company is being acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Home Services of America. CEO Ron Peltier was on hand to deliver the news and assure those in attendance that nothing would be changing, except that their parent now was a rich guy named Warren Buffett.

Ebby Halliday Realtors is the 12th largest independent brokerage firm in the United States and the largest indie in North Texas with more than 1,700 active agents. The firm was founded by a beloved icon, Ebby Halliday Acres, who lived until the age of 104, working nearly every day. Her funeral at Park Cities Baptist Church in University Park in  September 2015 was overflowing, and former First Lady Laura Bush eulogized her. Every Who’s Who in Dallas real estate attended, from Dave Perry-Miller (whose boutique luxury company Ebby acquired in 2007) to Robbie Briggs,  Allie Beth and Pierce Allman. Allie Beth Allman & Associates even took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News in Ebby’s honor. The Kansas native, who grew up selling Cloverine Salve, riding her pony in her rural farm community, migrated to Dallas and sold hats at a downtown department store in the 1940’s. One of her customers said something to the effect of, if she can sell my wife those dang hats, maybe she could help him sell some houses.

And thus, in 1945, began one of the greatest real estate careers, and companies, in Texas history.

I had the fortune of knowing Ebby Halliday, of interviewing her, of spending a day or two with her, of eating cake with her at her birthday parties. The one at the Meyerson was the best!  If Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says to be obsessive about customer service for success, Ebby Halliday was more than obsessive about customer service and tending lovingly those who worked around her, from her customers to the gals who steamed her famous St. John knit suits, which she loved because “they hide everything.”

Ebby Halliday built her brokerage from the ground up. She was quite simply the most beloved woman in Dallas.

For years, the rumors had been flying that the huge brokerage was selling. Who would buy it? Warren Buffett, a local group consisting of the Perots and a couple others, or Weichert Real Estate , a New Jersey-based independent firm much like Ebby, but with only 1,000 agents.

Buffett, Ebby’s friend, would often call her directly and try to talk her into selling.

“I was in her office once, and she was talking to Warren, just as easily as anything,” says an agent who prefers to remain nameless.

Says another: “There were some who were told not to exercise their options to sell their stock, because something way better was coming.”

About that stock — Ebby is an employee-owned company, but it was issued to very few people: most of the heavy holders were the original founders of the company, Ebby Halliday, Mary Frances Burleson who was her first secretary, Ron Burgert, who was a son of Ebby’s accountant and used to play in the office as a child, Maurice Acers, and a handful of others including managers.

Sources tell me Warren Buffett did try to buy Ebby first, but the price was too high, so they turned to Allie Beth Allman & Associates. In fact, today Ron Peltier said something to the effect of, “I tried once before but didn’t do a good job as a salesman.” Allie Beth had, at the time, 300 agents versus Ebby’s 1700 plus. NRT’s Coldwell Banker has also been courting Ebby. Allie Beth’s firm was a bit smaller, and gave Home Services their foot into Dallas luxury real estate. Obviously, they liked what they bought so much, one firm was just not enough. To be continued…

EH HSA Media Release May 21.Docx by Joanna England on Scribd