Allie Beth Allman hands President George Bush keys to his new Dallas home in the Oval Office
Allie Beth Allman
Allie Beth Allman is the grand dame of Dallas real estate. Born and raised on a ranch in Graham, Texas, she has been a beauty queen, a T.C.U. college cheerleader, and a poster girl for Fort Worth’s Pangburn’s Candy Co.
“I didn’t dream I’d be doing this,” she has said. “I was in the right place, and just fell into it.”
She “fell into” selling homes in 1982, built her own real estate company in 1985 and sold it ten years later to Henry S. Miller, a commercial real estate mogul in Dallas.
Then she did it all over again in 2004. Warren Buffett came knocking in 2015 and bought the brokerage that still bears her name. The sales price was undisclosed, but real estate observers placed the figure at $8 to $10 million.
When Amazon AMZN founder Jeff Bezos came to Dallas a couple years ago, I sat next to Allie Beth, who took notes on her iPhone. When Bezos talked about AI, she whispered to me, “what’s AI?”
Artificial intelligence, I told her.
She nodded and tapped it right into her phone.
Allie Beth & Pierce Allman
Allie Beth Allman
Her client list includes Dallas Cowboys’ famed coach Tom Landry (she was best friends with his wife, Alicia), Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Hall of Fame Quarterback Troy Aikman (she went to grandparents’ day at his daughter’s school), former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, the late Trammell Crow and his wife Margaret Crow, Tom Hicks, whose 25-acre, historic Crespi estate in North Dallas , the biggest residential property in the city, she sold twice (to Andy Beal and then Mehrdad Moayedi). It includes former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Texas Rangers baseball player Alex Rodriguez.
She knows every house in Dallas, including those long crunched by a bulldozer. She has listed many a millionaire’s estate including the now-scraped home of the late Mary Kay Ash, and the 10,500-square-foot White Rock Lake mansion built by oilman H.L. Hunt, now owned by a prominent Dallas attorney. Last year, Allie Beth Allman & Associates, which has 386 associates, closed on transactions logging total sales volume of $2.1 billion.
And she is the one who quietly found and sold George and Laura Bush their Dallas home on a cul de sac in Preston Hollow when the 43rd U.S. president returned to Texas in 2009. She and her husband of now 60 years, Pierce Allman, travelled to the White House to personally deliver the keys.
Allie Beth Allman Dallas
Allie Beth Allman & Associates
In Dallas, we have been in quarantine since March 23, including the nearly octogenarian Allie Beth. Unprecedented times: real estate transactions have plummeted about 30% in what was supposed to be a white hot spring market. So I reached out to the woman who has a U.S. president, a senator, a vice president, billionaires, sports stars, and a host of Texas VIPs under her sales belt for advice:
Did you ever think you would see something like this?
Allie Beth Allman: No! But the important thing is, we know this will end, because there will be a vaccine. My mother told me that during World War II, they had no idea when it would end! So the world has faced uncertainty before, this time we don’t know exactly when it will end, but it will end.
You’ve survived a few scary scenarios in your life, what can you offer as general comfort?
Allie Beth Allman: People are scared to death right now! Do what the government is telling us what to do, don’t go out of house, don’t get within 6 feet of people. When they say we can go out again, follow the rules. I’m afraid some young people are not taking this seriously, and they need to.
In Texas, we went into this with a pretty strong market, yes?
Allie Beth Allman: We certainly did. This downturn was NOT created by real estate. Not at all. In fact, our first quarter was amazing.
Have you talked to President Bush about this?
Allie Beth Allman: I cannot say. But I have visited with a lot of my customers who are very smart. They tell me basically we are in two wars, a medical war and an economic war. The medical war is beyond our scope, we have to listen to the scientists. What President Trump is doing is exactly what we should be doing for the bail out.
How are we going to sell homes when everyone is quarantined?
Allie Beth Allman: Amazingly, we are having closings. Everyone has to adapt. We work on line. There were 200 people in our Monday Morning Meeting on line. You don’t panic, you adapt.
Compass, Redfin, even xEp Realty are all cutting back, is your firm?
Allie Beth Allman: We are not cutting back at all. And we are expecting a 25 to 30% drop in revenue. My office has always been on the conservative side. We we are lean. We are debt free. We own our own building. And when you are connected to the richest man in the world, there’s nothing to worry about.
I know you have seen some tremendous past downturns — the 1980’s, the Great Recession of 2009, what advise do you have?
Allie Beth Allman: For sellers: if you can afford it, sit tight. I learned from one of the greatest commercial real estate genuses in the country, Mr. Henry S. Miller: he told me one time everything that goes down comes up. If you have the capability of sitting tight, that’s what I recommend.
Speaking of Mr. Miller, what about commercial real estate?
Allie Beth Allman: Commercial real estate is always first in a recession. Unlike office space, people have to buy a home, have a place to live. Most people do not put their home on the market to make money, they do it to make a change.
There is talk in some MLS’s of freezing days on market for this time period, what do you think of that?
Allie Beth Allman: Too complicated, everybody knows what’s happening. People will look at this time period and say, oh, that was the quarantine, when we were stuck in our homes. That doesn’t necessarily mean the seller will take a lower price.
What should you be doing now as a seller and agent?
Allie Beth Allman: Everyone is home now and on the internet, really looking at real estate. Get that house on the market and get up that virtual tour, do virtual tour open houses. Polish up your profile. People moving to Texas, people living in town, they will all be doing it through the virtual tour, and more pictures.
Do you think we will see a pause in real estate transactions during the (now extended) quarantine?
Allie Beth Allman: Definitely. The only ones doing transactions will be the ones who have to do one. In Dallas County you are fined $1000 if caught showing homes…
Or is it going to be a good time to buy right now…
Allie Beth Allman: Take the advice of one of my smartest, most successful clients: everyone needs to do nothing for 6 weeks.
What keeps you calm at this time?
Allie Beth Allman: Abiding by the rules and staying busy at home, catching up to make this time productive. I work 12 hours a day: there are always more ideas and things to do. Think of positive, and creative things and thank God every day for our health and what we have. Pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists trying to help us, the manufacturers making masks.
In a strange way, could Covid-19 make Dallas more attractive than other more dense areas?
Allie Beth Allman: We have a couple who moved here from India, actually because of the virus, the whole family —mother and daddy and three grown children They chose America because it’s the safest of any country in world. We found them two houses to lease and they immediately went into quarantine. All transacted virtually. This family had the means to go anywhere in the world, they chose Dallas because of our great medical centers and security, even though they have own security.
What keeps you motivated?
Allie Beth Allman: A positive attitude and doing same thing every day. I get up, I get dressed, I get on the phone with a conference call with my staff. Then I have to cook three meals a day, I’m learning how to cook again! It’s amazing when you don’t leave your house how much more time you have.
I had to organize and shift around my home office a bit. We have a ten minute huddle every day for our agents that I lead, and really people do not seem down, they are grateful they are not sick.
We are going back to telephoning! You can finally reach people, they are at home and they are answering their phone
We are turning this lemon into a lemonade and that’s just what we need to do, by staying at home, by doing more with your family.
Spoken like a true Texas: turn lemons into lemonade!
It’s almost a blessing: the virus has given us more quiet time. But that’s good because I said the other day, when this is all over, put on your roller skates: I’m expecting the market to explode from pent-up demand.