He is a Berkeley kid raised by a single mom, who happened to be a Realtor. Robert Reffkin saw her change brokerages three times, always looking for a better deal, each change a struggle. So as soon as he got into the business world, he decided to do what he could about it: disrupt!

According to Everipedia, “Robert Reffkin was known as DJ Zahav, the Golden Hebrew. Columbia University undergrad and M.B.A. he’s one of New York’s leading philanthropists and hottest startup players, angling to change the real estate market forever.” 

First the rental disruptor. He co-founded Urban Compass in 2012 (along with Ori Allon, who has sold a tech company or two) as a residential rental firm designed to blow up the murky NYC rental market with it’s cloistered listings and high fees:

Renters typically pay a 15% fee to brokers for commission. With Urban Compass, the typical broker’s fee is cut in half.

To execute the local vision, Urban Compass employs “neighborhood specialists.” Armed with red backpacks, iPhones and hyperlocal knowledge, specialists have real estate licenses and are paid a salary based on customer satisfaction, rather than a commission.

Wonder how long that lasted? Not very. But that’s the disruption business. Back then, even in rentals, Robert knew the key was service.
 
The duo quickly shifted the Compass brand from rentals to residential sales. The focus was still about service, but this time, Robert wanted to service the agents. He and Allon wanted to Zuckerberg-esque how buyers find places to live, and change how how people connect with each other and cities. 

“I realized rentals were pretty specific to New York City,” he told me last week. “New Yorkers rent, the rest of the world buys homes.”

Like in Dallas. (more…)

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid: a Major Wall Street Real Estate Disruptor has finally landed in DFW. Compass aims to own 20% of the US real estate market by 2020. 

Compass, which bills itself as a real estate technology company that also sells real estate, has launched their first Dallas office by merging with the small but mighty boutique firm known as The Collective Residential. The Collective, launched by Christy Berry and Jonathan Rosen almost one year ago, branded itself as an elevated real estate experience for the agents and the clients they serve. Rosen and Berry came from Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, where they were two of the most consistently high producing agents.

Calling itself  “a unique boutique luxury brokerage comprised of dynamic real estate advisors (never agents) in Dallas- Fort Worth, with a focus on enhanced design and innovation that guarantees clients maximum efficiency and premier access to the city’s most exclusive properties and listings,” the firm vowed to limit itself to 30 or 40 agents at most. They currently have 13. Most recently Gaynelle Henger left Coldwell Banker to join The Collective, which boasts a beautiful office on Oak Lawn just south of Highland Park that resembles a sleek ad agency more than a real estate office. The firm also added Erin Duvall, Molly Duvall ThomasCallie Brickman and Duke Jimerson III shortly before the holidays. Jimerson is the son of veteran Dallas agent Duke Jimerson at Allie Beth Allman & Associates. The Collective has clearly been building a team of millennial dynamo associates with deep family roots in Texas real estate.

The merger with Compass was actually something the duo sought before creating their company.

Robert Reffkin

Ori Allon

“We we went to New York City two years ago and talked them into opening Dallas then, but they just were not ready,” says Christy. “The Compass philosophy is much the same as our’s, very agent-centric, but they have this huge, impressive tech component that we could never compete with.”

Nor, says Christy, will others. In the New York City office, Compass has a full time tech department of about 80 engineers sitting in one room consistently working on the company’s intuitively designed software for agents to advance and improve, she says.

“They hire from Pixar, Apple, Google,” says Jonathan. “The mantra is to have full time tech people in every Compass office.” (more…)

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Sigh. They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. And in this era of teardowns and McMansions, wonderful old beauties like 3608 Drexel Drive don’t often see their centennial birthday.  Let’s hope that this stately Southern charmer does.

Listing agent Christy Berry of the Collective Luxury Residential loves this property as much as we do. ” I don’t think there are a lot of houses out there that have Southern charm like this,” she said. “A lot of people have asked, ‘Why the yellow?’ but the owner wanted to keep it in character with the original look and feel of the house. It has always been yellow.”

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Preston Hollow Estate

On the west side of Preston Hollow, in the “honey pot,” grand homes on large lots sit nestled among gentle hills and winding streets. This was once farmland, first developed in the 1930s as a separate town — Preston Hollow wasn’t annexed by Dallas until 1945.

Many of the homes built during those years were more like country estates, with horses and stables. That was because they actually were country estates: this was on the northern edges of a new and growing Dallas. One horse is still allowed per acre, and if you have an old barn on your property, you can keep it: it’s all grandfathered in.

This is one of the many things that makes Preston Hollow such an unusual part of town to call home: you are seven miles from downtown Dallas, but come home, sit on your porch, and you can feel like you are 70 miles away.

Candy has spent most of her life in Preston Hollow. Her current home is in Hillcrest Estates, another estate area where homes with large swaths of land can keep horses. She tells the story of what happened there about ten years ago.

“I went to the mailbox to get the mail, and as I shut the door and started to walk up her driveway, I thought I heard horse hooves,” she said “I knew I was imagining things.”

Then suddenly she saw two horses running — really running — across the street. She screamed at her dogs to go into the garage as she hid behind her stone mailbox post. A man was running frantically after the horses to try and catch them. The horses ran all the way west on Northaven Road, across Preston Road, almost to the Dallas North Tollway, where they stopped for a breather. At which point a couple having cocktails on Burgundy Road looked up and thought maybe the vodka was too strong: there were two sweaty horses in the backyard!

Today, besides horses, you’ll find some of the most luxurious residences of Dallas in the Preston Hollow estate area, like our Inwood National Bank House of the Week, located at 5907 Lupton Dr. Sitting on almost half an acre near Walnut Hill Lane and Preston, it exudes Southern charm and sophistication with large columns and a sweeping front porch. Arching shade trees and mature landscaping add to the effect.

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6410 Woodland Dr. IHOTW
Location, location, location. There’s nothing more important when you’re looking for a home. Our Inwood National Bank Home of the Week is in a perfect location within Preston Hollow, and it’s a gorgeous homage to that 19th century classic European style we all love.

6410 Woodland Drive Front Door

This magnificent two-story, 6,360-square-foot luxury home at 6410 Woodland Drive, is located right between two of the best shopping areas in town: NorthPark Center and Preston Center. It’s close to two excellent private schools: St. Marks School of Texas and Ursuline Academy. And it’s a hop skip and a jump to the Dallas North Tollway. The lovely Preston Hollow Park is just down the street. See, it really is in a perfect location.

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amy berry

Amy Berry and Christy Berry are teaming up to sell Amy’s University Park home at 4432 McFarlin Blvd. All photos courtesy of Amy Berry

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re interviewing a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law duo who are taking the real estate and interior design world of Dallas by storm.

Amy Berry is an up-and-coming interior designer, owner of Amy Berry Design, who was recently named in HouseBeautiful’s Next Wave of designers. Her mother-in-law, Christy Berry, is a Dallas-based luxury real estate authority with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty who sold over $67 million last year alone.

Amy’s career started to flourish after Christy introduced her to her first client. Now, they are teaming up again as Christy lists Amy’s $2.2 million home at 4432 McFarlin Blvd. in University Park. We sat down with Amy and Christy to talk about their relationship, the future of luxury real estate and design, and how they’re selling this home together.

CandysDirt: How do you see your industries intertwining?

Amy Berry: There’s no way they can’t intertwine. Everything about a house, with or without a client, tells a story and a successful interior finishes that story. You can’t put a family in a home without understanding how they live and how they envision themselves living. Same goes for interiors, so the two really go hand-in-hand.

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I’m just going to spill the beans on this one early: I have word from a solid source that two of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s powerhouse agents are teaming up to create a super-power selling team: Christy Berry and Jonathan Rosen.

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Last week I was in Austin, hanging with the folks at Concierge Auctions and about 65 power-house agents from across the country. Jonathan and Christy’s names were brought up several times as top producing agents separately. Together, well, we’ve already had 11 tornadoes in Dallas the day after Christmas, get ready for a really big one in real estate…

I think there were a lot of agent changes around here since December 15… stay tuned, stay very tuned. PS: LOVING Rosen Berry’s visuals…

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Real Estate Story

Selling Your House Infographic Header

So you’re thinking of selling? Now’s certainly a great time, and with buyers snapping up houses fast and furious. Think you don’t have to do much before you list, right?

Wrong. If you want top dollar for your house or condo, you need to create a love affair between your home and prospective buyers. Buyers may be eager, but they’ve still got options and you want to entice them.

We’ve talked to some of the very best Realtors in town to find out how they tell clients to prepare their listing, and created a handy infographic for you, too. So check out their home selling tips below!

1. CREATE CLASSIC CURB APPEAL

Dave Perry-Miller, owner of Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, says curb appeal is like a first date.

“Would someone go on a first date with a stained shirt?” he asked. “Make your first impression one of excitement and fun anticipation!”

In fact, Perry-Miller says the front door should be the focus of your efforts.

“Start from the front door and move out from that. The further a buyer gets from the front door, the less impact,” he said. “If a buyer doesn’t like how a house looks when they drive up, it’s an uphill battle.”

Christy Berry, Executive Vice President at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees.

“Drive-up appeal is crucial and first impressions are everything,” Berry said. “Be sure your landscaping is groomed and there is a pop of color. Remove the wreaths from the doors, too.”

Curb appeal gets buyers in the door, so even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, make sure you get your front looking fresh and clean. Simple things, like power washing the driveway and sidewalk, replacing bulbs in outdoor fixtures, and repainting the front door can make a big impact.

“Have trees trimmed and the lawn manicured and free of weeds, and do landscape improvements, like fresh mulch in beds, seasonal color in beds or pots of flowers,” said Jacqui Bloomquist, Realtor and Marketing Specialist at Coldwell Banker, Apex. “Add sod in bare spots and keep your lawn watered and maintained at all times.”

For condo sellers, the common area needs the same level of attention.

“If you live in a condo, make sure the corridor to the unit is cleaned and refreshed before showings,” said Kyle Crews, a realtor with Allie Beth Allman & Associates Urban. “My Urban team knows I keep a bottle of diluted Fabuloso that I spray in condo corridors and in vacant units to eliminate odors.”

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