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Real estate more fun than law

Daniel Dennis IV foregoes legal career for Roberts Brothers and more fun in real estate 

By Kathy Jumper
Mobile Bay Times
​Daniel Dennis IV switched from law to real estate thanks to his father-in-law, Johnny Roberts.

At 32, he’s president of Roberts Brothers based in Mobile, one of the largest real estate agencies in Alabama, with 240 agents and four offices. Johnny Roberts serves as chairman of the company.

“He’s the reason I got into real estate,’’ said Dennis, a Mobile native who is married to Maribeth Roberts Dennis. He was dating his future wife “when I saw how much fun Johnny was having in real estate. Obviously, him being a real estate legend, he was a tough act to follow.’’

Dennis came to the job with plenty of higher education and legal work experience. He holds a degree in finance from Auburn University, a law 
degree from Cumberland School 
of Law in Birmingham, and a 
Master of Laws degree in real 
property development from the 
University of Miami School of 
Law.

He served as corporate counsel 
for The Merrill Trust in Atlanta, 
Ga., before joining Roberts 
Brothers in February 2008. He 
was director of business development, provided legal counsel and was a liason with Roberts Brothers’ parent company, HomeServices of America, the nation’s second largest real estate firm. HomeServices is an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, whose chairman and CEO is Warren Buffett.

While Dennis has never met Buffett, Johnny Roberts has talked at length with the investment guru. In fact, one Buffett comment keeps Dennis on his toes. 

“He told Johnny that he only buys companies that are so great that they could be run by an idiot.’’

Smiling, Dennis added, “I spend my time trying not to be an idiot.’’

One of the first major accomplishments since he became president of the agency was the merger of Dauphin Realty into Roberts Brothers in October 2011.

“When I came on I knew that if we were going to continue to excel we had to grow,’’ he said. 

The local independent Dauphin Realty had been owned by Mickie Russell for 27 years.

“The merger worked because our existing agents were 100 percent supportive and Mickie and Dauphin’s agents were committed to making it work. Mickie Russell thinks about the company and not herself. She’s an enormous part of our company.’’

Roberts Brothers fits the HomeServices business model, he said. 

“Real estate is a local business. Each one of the real estate companies in HomeServices is the top brand in their local market. And it’s important to say that our company is a reflection of the management team we have. You’re seeing the top real estate team in south Alabama, and we also have got the top agents. Our approach is not to build the company around one or two people. Our approach is to build a great team."

He’s half the age of some of his managers, and he admits that made him work harder to learn the business and gain the confidence of the brokers and agents. 

“There’s not a day goes by that we aren’t working hard to stay No. 1."

The company embraces technology, he said. But, he adds, “Some young people make the mistake of using technology and the new media as the core’’ of their business. “I look at those things as being an acceleration of what we have. The most important thing about our business is customer service and the relationships with agents and customers. Important decisions are done face-to-face.’’

He and his team continue to look at growing the company. Still, Dennis likes to repeat a Buffett quote: “'We don’t’ marry for money.’ There are still opportunities in the surrounding areas, but we only want to partner with people who share our core values."

 “We’ve got a brand that has a record of success, loyalty and trust. We have a strong obligation to protect that 66-year-old brand.’’

(Editor's note: The Mobile Bay Times is pleased to add Kathy Jumper as a regular freelance contributor. Her weekly real estate column has been a "must read" for years in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Please encourage others to subscribe so that it will continue to inform Mobile/Baldwin readers. Leads and tips welcomed. Her new email address is jumper@mobilebaytimes.com)
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Daniel Dennis IV