For more than 40 years, Karen Luter of Allie Beth Allman & Associates has been blazing trails in Dallas real estate. She became a broker in 1982 and has been a consistent multimillion dollar producer ever since. She opened new territory in the luxury home market in Dallas, helped developers re-brand themselves for the high end market and built communities that have stayed together for decades. She is known for her attention to detail and incredible work ethic.
And she’d also one of Candy’s favorite people!
Karen has achieved top industry recognition and designations including Counsel of Residential Specialists, Graduate Realtor Institute, Advanced Historic Home Specialist from Preservation Dallas and Accredited Buyer Representative. She was recently in the news because she listed the icon home of the late Mary Kay Ash, 12,000 fabulous square feet over on Douglas Drive in Old Preston Hollow. We talked with her recently to learn what makes this beautiful, energetic gal tick!
CD: Where are you from?
Karen: I’m a native Dallasite who grew up in Lakewood. I went to Woodrow Wilson High School.
CD: A real Dallas native! How did you get into real estate?
Karen: I married and divorced really young. At 21 I was single with a six-year and two-year-old. I needed a job and went to work at a law office downtown that turned out to be a pit of vipers. The secretaries were trying to get me fired and the politics were fierce. I was miserable. A friend had a potential IPO that he let me in on. I borrowed $1,000 and we turned it into $12,000! I was so excited! I paid off my car and jumped into the worst real estate market you can imagine… it was the 70’s.
I sold $1 million in my first six months and never looked back. I worked insane hours. I had a way of helping people find houses that were suited for them. I found a home for a man I was dating and we started our own agency together. I wanted to be different and designed signs and logos that were well-designed and cool – so cool in fact that they kept getting stolen!
So I took an entrepreneurship class at SMU and took every business lessons to heart. I paid cash for everything and signed no long-term leases. I decided to work with a more established agency. Unfortunately, many of the agencies in town were struggling because of the market. I worked with Virginia Cook, Murray Realtors and Ellen Terry in quick succession. A new development called “Wellington on the Creek” was one of the early master-planned communities. I worked onsite and pre-sold 100 homes to Park Cities families. I had such good relationships with my peers that I marketed my properties in their offices. Many of these families had never built a home before. It was tough, too, because Wellington was on the “wrong side of Midway” according to most people’s way of thinking at the time. I threw awesome parties and made it fun to come take a look. It was a challenge, but together we all developed a real community. Many of the original tenants are still there decades later. They referred their friends and all moved to new homes together. Many of them travel together; play golf together; party together – a real community in other words.
After Wellington, I represented PortoBello by the Creek. The West Village didn’t even exist at that time. We were marketing a complete dream…with non-refundable deposits in advance. It was incredible. I worked with developers to re-brand their companies for a high-end marketplace. They would want to build a modest model home and I’d say “You are wasting your property! You’ve got to think bigger and better!” And they did. It was very time consuming. I worked by myself and only took time off during the middle of the week for over four years. And yet I met so many great people. It was a wonderful experience. It paid off with great referrals and new listings. I worked with David Griffith, Betty Abio and Henry S. Miller. After Coldwell Banker bought Henry S. Miller, I looked for the right home for myself and joined Allie Beth Allman after careful analysis. At the same time, I took a look at my bucket list and realized I needed get on the stick.
CD: Sounds like you were!
Karen: Like most women, I had put a lot of my dreams and desires on hold waiting for “Mr. Right” to somehow make it all happen for me. I realized that if I wanted a horse, some land, to learn photography, to travel to Europe, collect art or anything else on my list, I needed to start doing it NOW myself.
Karen Luter’s horse drops in to her East Texas second home for a family visit. Pictured: Son Bryan Luter and three of her five grandchildren.
Over time, I’ve turned myself into the man I always wanted to marry! I go to art shows in Basel, Switzerland; I own six horses, 2 longhorns and a miniature donkey. I’m having a blast! And real estate made that all possible for me!
CD: Um, you need to write a book or at least become a motivational speaker! Where is home for you in Dallas?
Karen: I live in “Luterville!” My kids and grandkids have taken over a huge portion of the Northern Hills Neighborhood. To me it is one of the best neighborhoods in Dallas. It is a beautiful, quiet conservation district with a serene vibe. It is west of the Katy Trail, east of Turtle Creek and north of Fitzhugh. We love it.
CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???
Karen: Not powerful enough! I need something big enough to pull three horses in a trailer. Not to mention dogs, grandchildren, fishing poles and dry cleaning – often all at the same time! I have an Escalade. Besides I love Cadillac. I used to drive a BMW but found I like the ride better in a Caddy.
CD: Sounds like you have a second home somewhere…
Karen: I bought a large parcel of land in East Texas for a steal at $86,000 and built a house on it. By myself. I’m out there all the time with my animals.
CD: What was your best/highest sale?
Karen: Working onsite were my best sales collectively. It was a lot of volume but very satisfying. I helped build a community that lasted. In the ’90s that was not very common and I’m very proud of that.
CD: If you ever left Luterville, where would you go?
Karen: I can’t imagine leaving. We love it here. I like nearby Arrowhead and Stonebridge Drive.
CD: What have you learned in 40 years of selling?
Karen: Don’t skimp on the preparation. I’m very visual with a very critical eye. I’m like Leona Helmsley detail-oriented. I thoroughly examine a home with my sellers and make the house looks spectacular before we list it. We de-clutter, stage, clean, paint – whatever is needed to get it the best it can be. I also prepare the buyers by having them completely pre-qualified for a loan. I educate them on value and what they should look for in a new home. It takes time but it is worth it. My best client is a well-educated one, one who reads this blog!
CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…
Karen (with her beautiful smile): I have the life I want – I don’t need an encore.