Keeping it real

Posted on 02 Oct 2015 at 6:15am

Building relationships  has helped Phillip Murrell rise quickly in the real estate profession. And he has a lot of insights into what you should know about the market


Defining Homes

Phillip Murrell has always been filled with what he calls “an entrepreneurial spirit.” That’s why he set out to build his own business and his own brand in real estate. And in just three years, he has done just that. He was Keller Williams’ Rookie of the Year in 2012, and this past spring was voted Best Realtor in Dallas Voice’s Readers Voice Awards.

Born in Houston, Murrell moved to Michigan as a child, but returned to Texas to attend Baylor University. He moved to Dallas to work in marketing with SJR Communications, then started his real estate career with Keller Williams, before joining Dave Perry-Miller & Associates in January. It was the move to Dallas that helped him get on the right track.

“I grew up as a conservative Baptist boy, and then I went to Baylor,” Murrell says. “But when I got to Dallas, my life opened up, and I started growing into my own skin. I was able to really start making friends and building true relationships, and that lets me keep it real. It is that keeping it real aspect that helps me build trust with my clients.”

Murrell started in real estate at just the right time. Three years ago, what had been a depressed market was really beginning to rebound, and he was able to put his skills, his talents and his personality to good use and grow with the market.

“I have only been a Realtor for three years, but I have already had some repeat clients,” he says. “That’s because people who bought three years ago already have a lot of equity in their home, because of where the market was then compared to where it is now. And a lot of people have already recouped what they lost [in terms of equity] when the market went down.”

Murrell specializes in properties in the Uptown, Turtle Creek and Oak Lawn neighborhoods, but he noted that more and more LGBT couples are having children, and are looking beyond the traditional gayborhoods for their homes.

“I do have more and more clients who are having kids now,” Murrell says. “That’s not new, of course, but it is becoming more prevalent. A lot more gays and lesbians are looking beyond the usual neighborhoods when they are looking to buy a home. They are more concerned about the schools and finding a neighborhood that’s best for their kids.”

For many, that means looking at suburbs. “I had a couple just recently who wanted me to find them a home in Frisco,” says Murrell. “I told them I can find them a house, but that’s not my area of expertise. You can’t be an expert in every area, and that goes back to having a honest relationship with my clients.”

It’s not just couples with kids that are looking outside the gayborhoods. “I help gay people move everywhere now,” he says. “Overall, there is a very optimistic mood. And younger gays aren’t just looking for the gay areas. They are looking for homes with real character, they’re looking for treed neighborhoods.”

When it comes to Oak Lawn, Murrell has some tips for homeowners looking to sell, as well as those looking to buy. Pointing out that there are a lot of older homes in Oak Lawn, Murrell suggests, “It’s usually a good idea to do some upgrades” when you’re getting ready to put your home on the market. “A lot of people are looking for homes that are move-in ready,” he says. “Besides, people don’t always have the vision [to see the potential in a house], so it’s not a bad idea to spend a little money so you can make more money on a house.”

Because he “flips” houses himself — buying a house that needs repairs, remodeling it and then reselling for a profit — Murrell offers some insight into what it takes to make a house sellable, and some hints for others who want to get on the flipping wagon.

“The thing is, you make the money when you buy the house,” he says. “That means that you have to know up front what needs to be done, how much it will cost to get it done, and how much you need to sell it for to make a profit. You have to always be thinking about the resale. Know the prices of things — can we get this much done in that length of time, and can we resell for this price?”

Don’t skip the design process, Murrell counsels. “Know where to put the walls, how to select the right tile. There are places to save money, and then there are places not to worry about saving money. Anything that involves the structural integrity of the home, don’t skimp on those. If you have wood floors, you need to make sure those are perfect.”

There are ways to save, however. For instance, subway tile is very popular but not expensive. “The trick is to make sure it is installed perfectly,” he says.

It also helps to know the area —  what’s hot, and what’s going to be hot. “The market is going up again, so it’s getting harder to buy properties [to flip] in the really hot areas, because the prices are going up. Instead of trying to buy in an A area, buy in a B area that’s on it’s way to being an A area.”

Flipping homes in Oak Lawn is a way of keeping alive the unique character of the neighborhood, and a way of helping the LGBT community that has long seen Oak Lawn as “home base.”

“It’s awesome to watch how fast Oak Lawn is changing,” Murrell says. “I hate to see some of the older places being torn down, but at the same time, that has to happen sometimes. We have a really walkable community now, with developments like ilume. I hope a lot of the developers coming into the area will continue to build that kind of mixed use community. Oak Lawn is becoming an ever more affordable and urbanite place to live.”

— Tammye Nash

You can contact Phillip Murrell at or 989-859-2275.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.

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