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DMRE’s own Tim Dosch and David Claros were ranked #1 and #3 respectively in the Land category of Houston Business Journal’s 2023 Heavy Hitters in commercial real estate.
Behind The List: Houston has some new faces among top Heavy Hitters in commercial real estate
By Wyatt Loy  –  Data reporter, Houston Business Journal

This year, the Houston Business Journal made changes to the categories of its Heavy Hitters Lists. In prior years, categories like industrial, office and retail were singular and did not account for the differences in agents that specialized in leasing or sales. For 2023, the eight new categories are: Industrial Sales and LeasingOffice Sales and LeasingRetail Sales and LeasingMultifamily (formerly Investment) and Land. This change is intended to better reflect the commercial real estate industry.

In total, the industrial Heavy Hitters produced about $11.7 billion in dollar volume, the office agents produced about $6.2 billion, the retail agents about $3.6 billion, the land agents $2 billion and the multifamily agents $46.2 billion — by far the head of the pack. As Houston’s apartment market seems to get more and more competitive by the year, the heavy focus on developing and selling multifamily buildings may be warranted.

The largest transaction from this year’s Heavy Hitters came from JLL, which was the new headquarters for Apache Corp. (Nasdaq: APA) in the Westchase District. The dollar value of the transaction is about $194.4 million, and it encompasses a total of 327,794 square feet. Apache still renewed its lease of the building that served as its headquarters since 1991, at 1770 Post Oak Blvd., but it’s unclear what it will be used for once the transition to Westchase is complete.

In 2023’s batch of Heavy Hitters, there were a couple standouts. Jake Dutson is a senior associate at Strive’s Houston office, which has only been around for about three years. It’s the first time Strive has made it on an HBJ list, and Dutson attributes that to a number of factors.

“Our firm is structured differently than most brokerages. We share commissions internally in a pool-structure, which promotes collaboration and transparency,” Dutson told HBJ. “Our agents are also focused on specific submarkets and asset types, so we’re able to bring in an expert specific to the assignment. The result is a unified team approach that’s truly aligned with the objectives of our clients.”

One of the things Dutson is most proud of is setting up the Houston location for Strive, which is based in Dallas.

“Bringing in a handful of agents to the Houston office that really are ramping up quickly, that are motivated and bought into what our company is bringing to the table, it’s been very rewarding to foster that environment down here in Houston,” Dutson said.

One of the biggest successes the office has had in terms of deals, Dutson said, is the Northway Center, a 215,000-square-foot shopping center off of the Northwest Freeway just outside the 610 Loop. Dutson did not disclose the dollar figure of the deal.

“[It was] sold to a local group that’s active and really building relationships that are exciting to see,” Dutson said. “And a personal proud moment of mine that I’m able to bring value and that I’m being respected by the local groups that have been in the market for a long time.”

Dutson’s main goal for this year is to gross a higher dollar volume than the Dallas office and compete with them on a yearly basis, he said.

“From there, what we’ve laid out to make that happen is really just building relationships and proving to our clients that we’re in arms with them in terms of their goals. We’re not looking to get a couple deals done and get out of this market. We’re in long term,” Dutson said. “And we’re glad that we’ve been embraced as a company and as a group of guys because we know that we can bring serious value to our clients.”

Another standout figure on this year’s list is a regular, Bill Byrd, a land broker at Colliers (Nasdaq: CIGI). What makes Byrd stand out is not just that he’s a Heavy Hitter, but that he went from regularly being on the lower half of the lists to now being in the top five.

“A lot of it is chemistry. Do you like the individual agent that you’re working with? Do you feel confident in their knowledge and in their experience? You know, I think the [thing] that I have, perhaps over others, is just time in the marketplace,” Byrd told HBJ. “Just being in the market for a long time, since 1984 working land transactions. I’ve got a depth of knowledge, and I’ve got a great company in Colliers that has wonderful resources to bring knowledge and information to the client.”

Another important thing to consider is the balance between the progress of technological innovation and the traditional shoe leather work of knowing who needs what.

“Certainly, you’ve got to be innovating from a technological standpoint on a regular basis. Utilizing photography [and] aerial video on certain properties has been useful in the marketing effort on some of the parcels,” Byrd said. “But at the end of the day, it comes down to being in the marketplace understanding who’s the market for acquisition. So it’s trying to identify the highest and best use for the property and matching those buyers.”

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