Last week a Dallas Morning News Article came out on a new proposed development at the SEC of Hwy 75 and Hwy 121. In the article, the land owner, the Petefish Family, is mentioned. If you’d like to go right to the DMN article, here’s the LINK If you’re interested in my meeting with the Petefishes 33 years ago, here’s that story.
I had just gotten my real estate license and teamed up with a good friend to try to sell raw land. Both of us were brand new in the business. As they say here in Texas “we didn’t know come here from sic’ em, but we had our pistols out and shooting in all directions”.
We started by just driving the land north of Plano trying to find out who was buying and who was selling. At that time, the land on both sides of Hwy 75 between Stacy Road and Hwy 121 were just farmland. There was absolutely nothing on the east side of Hwy 75, but on the NWC of Stacy Rd and Hwy 75 (Allen side) stood a very small, unassuming brick home of maybe 1,200 SF. This was a long time ago but as I remember, it was right in the middle of the 100 acres, no barn, not a single tree, just a long gravel driveway leading up to it.
I had a hard time convincing my partner to drive up the driveway so I could knock on the door. He said it was a waste of time. “There’s no way the owner of the land lives in that home”. But I countered even if they weren’t the owner, they could probably put us in touch with the true owner, then we could ask them if they would sell.
As it turns out, the owners were there when we knocked on the door. Mr. and Mrs. Petefish, an older couple, had worked the land for many years. There was nothing fancy about them, just hard workers. Mr. Petefish did the farming and Mrs. Petefish worked at a department store in Heights Village in Richardson.
I never asked the sellers what their cost basis was in the land, but it had to be very little. They weren’t in a hurry to sell but were smart enough to realize the time was right. They decided not to sell the land outright but owner finance. That turned out to be a very shrewd move on their part. To appreciate the story I have to explain what was happening in Dallas real estate at the time.
The Roaring 80’s of Dallas Real Estate
The mid 1980’s were the golden years of real estate in Dallas. Those were the days of high flying land brokers, Rolex watches, BMW’s and insane land flips. A flip occurs when a buyer on a contract assigns the rights to purchase the property to another buyer before the property closes. There might be two, three, or even four flips before a property actually closed.
Each party on the flip paid more for the property than the buyer who sold it to them, so the price became incredibly inflated without changing hands and any justification. You didn’t want to be the last person in the flip. They were the ones who closed on the property because they were left holding the bag if no-one would buy the property from them. But times were good and everyone assumed it would just go on forever. Of course, it didn’t.
Everything was fast and loose. The lenders, investors, and appraisers were all in it together. Some investors made a lot of money, some lost lots of money and some lenders, appraisers, and agents went to jail over all of these flips.
What happened in the 1980’s is one of the reasons lenders are now so cautious, and some say overly cautious, with appraisals. The property must stand on its own if the lender has to take it back so they’re not left owning a highly overvalued property. That was the environment we were working in when we met the Petefishes.
On With the Story
Long story short, we developed a good working relationship with the Petefishes and suggested it was a great time to sell. The sellers decided not to sell it outright, but with financing, or terms. The buyer would be required to put down a nice chunk of money which went directly to the seller at closing. If the buyer defaulted on the loan, the Petefishes got the land back PLUS the downpayment.
My partner, who stayed in the land business, told me he sold that 100 acre tract of land three different times. The Petefishes made great money every time. I don’t know how many times the land sold after my friend’s three times, but eventually someone closed and developed it. That land is now where the Allen Premium Outlet, Hampton Inn and Suites, a retail strip center and Taco Cabana sits.
Again, here’s the LINK to the article about the Petefish Land on the opposite side of Hwy 5 (Central Expressway) in Fairview and just a bit north.