Mark Cain is known as one of the most hardworking and caring real estate agents in the business, certainly in North Texas. Voted one of the “Best Realtors in Dallas” by D Magazine readers for 9 years in a row, he has closed millions, over $25 million in volume sales alone in 2012. He is a consistent top-producing agent at Dave Perry-Miller & Associates. His impressive list of accomplishments includes the title of “Best Son Ever,” according to his Mom for a very special Mother’s Day surprise. We nabbed Mark (it was hard) for a quick holiday interview to learn more.
CD: Where are you from?
Mark: I was born in New Jersey, but consider myself a transplanted native, or a “Reborn Texan” as Candy puts it. I love the Dallas area and have lived here for more than 35 years. My family moved to North Texas from Metairie, Louisiana when I was a young boy (after only a brief nine-month stint there). For the majority of my early childhood, however, we lived on a farm in Ohio. I loved living on the farm as a kid and have many fond memories of that time. We had a zillion acres (it seemed like to me), and my siblings and I would run and play for hours on end. The house was big and white, with tall white columns across its broad front porch. We had a large barn, a pony, some chickens, and miles of acres of gardens. My Dad was an executive with Marriott and was transferred many times during his tenure with the company. That’s how we came to Dallas. My father passed away in 1980 at age 43, and my mother decided to stay here to raise her eight children on her own.
CD: Eight children? Well, someone knows how to share. How did you get into real estate?
Mark: All my life I’ve been interested in architecture and residential homes. As early as second grade I toured open houses. One summer, when I was about twelve or thirteen, my mother worked as an assistant to an agent who was representing an entire neighborhood development. There were three model homes for buyers to view, which I loved touring as each one had its own personality and all were immaculately clean and beautifully furnished. On top of that, the agent drove a brand new Cadillac with power windows and a sunroof. I remember thinking, “Now that’s what I want to do!”
In college, I started working for a market research company as a means to earn money for my tuition and books. In July 2001, after 15 years in the industry, the company I was working for closed its doors in Dallas.
I took a few months off, but then decided to follow my passion and I enrolled into the Real Estate Career College in Dallas and got my license. I discovered I had a knack for the business, and my corporate experience fit hand in glove with real estate. By the end of my first year in the business I was a Top-10 office producer, and have been a consistent top-producing agent ever since.
CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?
Mark: I recently sold my house in Lake Highlands and purchased a three-story contemporary townhouse in Uptown, designed by award-winning architect Ron Wommack. I’m still getting settled in, but I love my new space with its high ceilings, walls of glass, and outdoor sky deck.
CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???
Mark: No way! I’m a BMW man. I’m on my third one. I’ve had two 7-Series, and currently drive a 528i. I “downshifted” (pun intended) as a result of the economy. I love the way BMWs drive. My next car will be either another 7-Series, or perhaps an X5.
CD: What’s your favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?
Mark: With so many beautiful and interesting pocket neighborhoods in Dallas it’s very hard to choose. Obviously, I live in Uptown and enjoy its energy and proximity to shopping and restaurants. I like the urban feel here too. I’m also a huge fan of Preston Hollow and the Park Cities where I sell a lot of homes. But if I were to move somewhere else, it would be either Devonshire or Bluffview. I love the quaint cottages and big lots in Devonshire, and I’m attracted to the hills and tall trees in Bluffview. In either place, I’d like to build a new contemporary home that maximizes the lot and its views.
CD: What was your best/highest sale?
Mark: In 2007, I sold a $15 million estate property in Preston Hollow, which is the highest sale so far of my career. This past year I sold an $8 million new construction estate home, also in Preston Hollow. In both of these sales I was the listing agent, but I have also represented many buyers in the multi-million dollar price range.
CD: What was your hardest or worst sale?
Mark: The hardest transaction for me was heart-wrenching. A young mother, whose husband had abandoned her and their two young boys, wanted a three-bedroom house with a window in the kitchen that overlooked the back yard so she could watch her boys while they played. She was in a very difficult financial situation, scrambling to provide for her family and give her boys a sense of security. I knew the right home would make a huge difference in their life, and worked hard to find a house that met her needs on a very modest budget. It took a while, but we found it. I negotiated a new roof with the sellers and got her into the house. The buyer and her sons were absolutely radiant in their new house, and it meant so much to me that I was able to help them with a new start on life. It is most certainly one of my most gratifying transactions.
CD: Even more than your Mom’s story? Didn’t I read something about it in the Dallas Morning News?
Mark: Being able to buy my mother a house was certainly the most gratifying of all. When my father died of cancer in 1980, Mom was a widow with eight children at age 41. She managed to go back to school, get her teaching degree, and raise all of us on a shoe-string budget. I have enormous respect for her, and owe her so much for all that I am. In 2005, with some help from my brother Matt (who lives across the street from Mom’s house in Frisco), we decided to give back to her just a little of what she had given to us all these years. The surprise could not have been executed better, with the majority of my siblings and their families in attendance. Except for me, Matt and Matt’s wife, no one else knew about the surprise. We gave Mom a small box containing a note about her surprise — a new house and the key inside. I wish you could hear the giant eruption of astonishment and joy! We all walked across the street where a catered Mother’s Day lunch was waiting for us in her new home. I think that has to be the absolute best day and proudest moment of my life so far.
CD: Wow! You are definitely in the BEST.SON.EVER Hall of Fame! I guess I don’t have to ask you which is your favorite second home!
Mark: True. It is my only second home right now. Someday, I’d like to buy a beachfront home in Florida and a mountain cabin in the middle-of-nowhere Colorado.
CD: How quickly have you sold a home?
Mark: Sometimes within hours. I had one property in Preston Hollow where we had three full-price offers with incentives on the first day. The incentives included a week’s stay at a luxury resort, $2,000 above the highest offer, and an “as-is/no repairs” offer. That’s the one the seller chose, and we closed quickly with no repairs.
CD: What have you learned about selling?
Mark: Dave Perry-Miller has been a wonderful mentor and an exceptional example for me. He lives by a simple motto when it comes to real estate which is “What would be best for the client?” If you ask yourself that question, the answer will always be clear. I also think in terms of what I would expect from me if I was my Realtor, and try to meet or exceed my own expectations.
Every transaction is different, as every person, situation and home is unique. Following my listing client’s goals and objectives, I build a marketing plan customized specifically for them. I understand the power of advertising, and my corporate experience helps me determine the appropriate reach, frequency, venue, and target market strategies to employ in order to maximize exposure for my client’s properties. My reputation as an honest, fair, and easy-to-work-with agent gives me an advantage when working with my buyer clients. Often in multiple-offer situations my contract will prevail because of the positive working relationships I have with area agents and brokers.
Finally, I understand and respect that the client is the decision maker. My job is to provide my clients with sound guidance and informed counsel from which they can make the best, most educated decisions.
CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…
Mark: I’d open an advertising agency for realtors. I really enjoy marketing properties.