By Lisa Iannucci, Contributing Writer
MHN: How did you get into the multifamily industry?
Dunlap: For me, real estate is the family business. I literally grew up in the multifamily industry. My dad left the company he was with to start his own firm when I was 7 years old. From that day on, I have had the unique opportunity to work a number of positions. I started with a mop, then [went] to swinging a hammer and even worked as an on-site manager.
MHN: If you weren’t in multifamily, what would you be doing?
Dunlap: I have always been in the real estate business, but I did study English at UCLA. If I had to choose something other than real estate I would probably be a screenwriter or writer by default.
MHN: Who has been the biggest inspiration during your career?
Dunlap: Without a doubt, my dad has been the biggest source of inspiration and encouragement over the course of my career. I am extremely blessed to have such a close working relationship with him, to see firsthand the hard work and dedication that it takes to be successful in such a tough business has been invaluable.
MHN: In terms of work, what keeps you up at night?
Dunlap: Our operational platform is solid and we have a very conservative approach to investing. So unless there is some sort of emergency, I sleep like a baby.
MHN: What’s the best part of your workday?
Dunlap: When I get to help. Whether it is assisting a client or a staff member, I enjoy the interpersonal interactions where I am presented with an obstacle and can effectively troubleshoot or solve the issue. I especially like when I am able to improve the operation of someone’s investment through our hands-on approach to property and asset management.
MHN: What one story in your career stands out in your mind?
Dunlap: One of my first big projects was the overhaul of a 300-bed student housing complex. The place was just a disaster zone. We closed escrow in June and completed a full renovation and remodel not just on the actual property, but in creating the marketing, staffing and operations as well. By the end of August, we had completed the overhaul and were 100 percent occupied with a waiting list more than 75 people deep. Previously, that was unheard of at that property.
MHN: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? 10 years?
Dunlap: We have a solid team in place and the market is ripe with opportunity. Within five to 10 years, I see our firm’s portfolio doubled, if not tripled, in size and I see us re-entering markets such as Austin and Dallas.
MHN: What advice would you give that you wish someone would had said to you?
Dunlap: The old saying, “It’s not who you know, it’s what you know.” In real estate, it’s a healthy balance of both. Real estate is a relationship-based business and a name might get you in the door, but it takes a lot more than that to keep clients happy.