What strikes me about the agents at David Griffin & Company is their abundant talent in areas other than real estate. For example, let’s consider how music and architecture led Brandon Stewart into real estate.
Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, Brandon started playing guitar at 14, and then became interested in recording. By 19 he was working in a Phoenix recording studio with George Strait and Itzak Pearlman as clients. His weekly gig in college was recording the Phoenix Symphony.
How did you get from recording studios to architecture?
Brandon: The concept of recording studios inspired me. The idea of a room dedicated to extracting creativity from people while being sonically isolated from the rest of the world fascinated me. I traveled to Los Angeles and other major music markets and found that musicians with no design skills were actually the ones responsible for designing studios. I thought, if I had a background in architecture, I could design great recording studios.
How did your architecture career unfold?
I went to Arizona State University and transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington because a small firm in Addison was designing world-class recording studios. There were maybe three companies designing recording studios on a significant level at the time. I landed a job with the Russ Berger Design Group. I was working on the coolest recording, radio, and gaming group projects in the nation.
Why did you leave designing studios?
The industry changed when people stopped buying CDs. People started sharing music instead of buying music. With the advances in computers, musicians could record at home instead of in a multi-million dollar recording studio. I had been in the industry about seven years by then and just watched the business shrink again and again. It was just no longer sustainable.
How did you recover from that?
I decided to fall back on my architecture degree and took a job at RTKL Associates, the seventh-largest architecture firm in the world at the time. They worked on large urban projects and I learned a tremendous amount about the design process from working on large international projects. I worked with them for about five years.
Then the great recession happened.
The architectural profession cut about 48 percent of its workforce, including me. I had to think about options and what made sense at the time.
Flashback, I bought a midcentury modern home in 2005. It was not a great experience because my agent just didn’t understand the concept of a Midcentury Modern home. I made a mental note at that time that there had to be opportunities out there with people who appreciate these homes.
A spark of an idea created a new career path!
I’ve always built things, so I thought I’d get a real estate license and flip houses. I went to Champions School of Real Estate, and that’s when the idea sparked. I felt I could bring something new to real estate sales with an architecture background and a knowledge of design and construction.
How did you end up at David Griffin & Company?
I knew about David’s firm from my days at RTKL. We used to actively look at his cool listings on our lunch breaks. I associated the DGC brand with architecturally-significant properties. When it came time to choose a broker I went straight to his company and met with the office manager. She told me they didn’t take on new agents and politely sent me on my way. I eventually chose to join the Ebby Halliday office in Lake Highlands. They had training and an office less than a mile from my house. I admired Ed Murchison and his brand which at the time was partnered with Virginia Cook. I thought if Ed could do it with VC, I should be able to do it with Ebby, and so I did.
Around the end of my second year, I got a call from David asking me to lunch to talk about how the DGC brand would be a great fit for my business.
Were you looking for a change?
I was not, but I knew my business was a bit of a branding mismatch with my broker.
When we went to lunch, David said, “If you align yourself with like-minded others, you can achieve things you cannot achieve by yourself.” I knew Ebby was not a perfect match for me, but I liked the people and was comfortable. I thought if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
How were you finally convinced to join David Griffin & Company?
My first listing ever was a Ju-Nel midcentury modern listing in Lochwood. That led to others, and David noticed. About a year after our initial lunch, he invited me over to discuss what we could do together. I could see the Realtors there cared about the same things I did and that they were not just co-workers but also friends. The timing was right for a change and he made me an offer I could not refuse!
What did that change bring?
My business exploded! I launched my website, mod214.com, before most agents figured out how to work Internet sales and did $5 million in sales from the website alone in its full-year active. It doubled the next year and again in 2014. My wife Ali, who is also a Realtor, and I had our first son in the summer of 2014. Work-life balance became very important. We have two sons now: Maddox is 7 and Gunnar is 5. We mainly hang out with them, cheer Maddox on in sports, and of course, I love to cook for everyone.
What has the past year been like for you?
Last year I sold a custom home designed by Cliff Welch in Lochwood that wasn’t on the market. David Collier and I were talking in the DGC office one day and I told him about my clients and their desire for a true architect-designed home. David knew the Cliff Welch homeowner and asked if he’d be willing to sell, and the answer was yes. We do what it takes for our clients, and making something from nothing is a wonderful feeling.
Today the market is in unprecedented territory and it’s more difficult than ever to help clients purchase homes. I get up every day though and fight the good fight for them. It takes longer than it used to, but I’m still building an army of happy clients. I take care of them, and fortunately, they take care of me.