LAND OF OPPORTUNITY: Given a recent surge in developer demand for bare dirt, Dosch Marshall Real Estate’s leaders don’t expect business to slow down any time soon.
Here in Houston, Dosch Marshall Real Estate has become synonymous with high-end land brokerage services. In the four years since the firm was founded by brothers Tim and Tom Dosch and David Marshall, the firm has gained a reputation for handling high-profile land transactions across Houston and beyond. But the firm’s founders aren’t content to sit back and focus on deals in the Bayou City — they’ve got their sights set on expanding across Texas, the south and are even working to gain a foothold in Arizona and Colorado.
In fact, Tom Dosch recently relocated to Dallas to head the firm’s operations there. That has left Tim Dosch and David Marshall to manage Dosch Marshall Real Estate’s expansion efforts in Houston, as well as the rest of the country. And given the recent surge in developer demand for bare dirt, Tim Dosch and Marshall say they don’t see business slowing down anytime soon.
The Houston Business Journal recently spoke with Tim Dosch and Marshall about their expansion plans, how the firm pivoted in the wake of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and what comes next for the homegrown firm.
What did the pandemic mean for Dosch Marshall Real Estate?
Dosch: The land market was very tough during the first few months of Covid-19. We saw a lot of deals fall through across Texas. A lot of clients pulled out of deals across the county. But once everyone got back into the market, it’s been crazy. The last nine or 10 months have been the hottest I’ve ever seen. Houston took longer to recover than Dallas and Austin. But it’s really come back strong.
Where is the demand for land coming from?
Dosch: The single-family market has been the strongest it’s ever been. There have been a ton of deals in the suburbs. The built-to-rent market has also been incredibly strong. Industrial has been doing really well, as well.
Marshall: I’ve spoken with a lot of homebuilders in master-planned communities in the last nine months, and everyone has said that this has been the best year on record in the history of their company. The single-family market has been exploding across the country.
How has your company responded to the boom in demand for land in the wake of the pandemic?
Dosch: We’ve actually doubled in size since Covid. We’ve been fortunate to find some really impressive prospects. We felt like it was the right time to invest in our people. It’s been so helpful to have more people helping with the deals we’re coming across. We’ve hired 27 people since the pandemic. We’re looking to expand into Charlotte, Denver, Phoenix and across the southeast.
Marshall: We’ve got people covering the Carolinas. We’re not only investing in our people but we’re diversifying our operation geographically across the southeast. We’ve also sent some people from our Houston office to Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio to build out our offices there. We might need to backfill to fill out the Houston office. Our office here is pretty big, but at the rate we’re growing, we might need to move in the next 18 months or so.
Has the pandemic changed your strategy at all when it comes to land acquisitions?
Dosch: The transaction volume is back to where it was before the pandemic. But we’ve changed our focus a bit in Houston because retail and office were not really happening. Over the past eight or nine months, there has been a lot of suburban activity, especially on the single-family home side. Meanwhile, the urban infill market has been a little softer, so we’ve been really hitting the suburbs looking for deals. You’re starting to see a shift in the infill market, but it’s still lopsided toward the suburban markets.
Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re working on?
Marshall: We took a 40-acre site near the Heights to market earlier this year, and that has been receiving a great response. We’ve already had about 25 offers.
Dosch: From an activity standpoint, we’re getting seven to eight offers per week. There is a lot going on. It definitely feels better than pre-pandemic.
What has been the biggest challenge for you all over the past year?
Dosch: One of the biggest challenges has been getting access to capital. A lot of the institutional lenders pulled out of the Houston market for a while. We had some clients who were millions into a deal, only to find the equity tough to come by and debt tough to come by, you see deals fall apart. We were working on a deal for some land near the Kroger in Garden Oaks and had it under contract earlier this year. But that was one of the deals that fell apart because of Covid. It’s looking really good though. There’s a lot of interest in that area.
What comes next for your firm?
Dosch: We’re really looking to strengthen our offices in Dallas and central Texas. Houston has always been our home base, but there are some great opportunities across Texas. For years, our institutional clients have wanted us to be in other cities. We’ve figured out how to hire people to build on our strengths so we can help our clients.
Marshall: We want to stay ahead of the real opportunities in Texas, the southeast, the southwest and Colorado. Those are some really great areas. But at the end of the day, we want to stay on top of Texas. That’s our bread and butter, and we’ve very proud of what we’ve accomplished here.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tim Dosch, Principal and co-founder, Dosch Marshall Real Estate
Hometown: Billings, Montana
Education: Texas A&M University
Hobbies: Travel, hiking, snorkeling
David Marshall, Principal and co-founder, Dosch Marshall Real Estate
Education: Baylor University
Hobbies: Tennis, golf