Ebby Halliday’s Alan Levy and BJ Antweil join forces
By Amy Sorter
In 1987, Dallas Realtor Alan Levy joined Henry S. Miller (HSM), which had been sold to Grubb & Ellis a few years earlier. During his more than three decades in the industry, he went through four economic downturns and a similar number of economic booms.
A little more than 30 years after Levy joined HSM, Dallas Realtor BJ Antweil entered the residential real estate sector, right around the time when home sales and prices broke statewide records.
Fate brought the two Ebby Halliday professionals together at a year-end event in December 2021. After talking, they became partners. Levy and Antweil have different backgrounds and markedly different business approaches. Yet as a team, they are successfully navigating the extremely volatile environment that characterizes today’s home sales and acquisitions.
“I’d been looking around for someone to work with who had the experience and could work with me,” Levy explained. “I also needed someone who was good with computers. I used to have outside help with my contracts and other paperwork; I wanted someone to help me with that.”
Added Antweil: “The reason we joined forces — the simple reason — is mid-stage merging with late-stage. Alan didn’t want to train a rookie, but at the same time, he had enough contacts that we, as a group, could successfully move at the new speed of real estate.”
Levy got his start in real estate through his father’s South African commercial real estate development firm. “We had our own properties; I handled all the leasing,” he said. “I was given a great opportunity to get schooled by my dad and his two brothers.”
When he arrived in Dallas during the 1980s, the savings and loan industry collapse made involvement with commercial real estate sales and leasing difficult. So Levy moved into the residential sector, calling it “the best move of my life.” He started his residential career with Henry S. Miller, eventually teamed with partner Barry Hoffer. The partners worked with Prudential Real Estate, and both eventually ended up at Ebby. Hoffer retired, and Levy operated on his own. Until he met Antweil, who had been born and raised in St. Louis.
Antweil came to Dallas by way of the University of Texas. But his original career was in cybersecurity. However, he ended as a homebuyer and home seller 12 times between 2006 and 2018. And he disliked the agents and Realtors he worked with.
“Every agent I’d worked with, it seemed as though they were agents part time, and full-time parents. We would walk into a house, and they’d say, ‘Don’t you just love that chandelier?’” Antweil said. “I didn’t need them for that. I needed them to negotiate a contract in my best interests.” This prompted him to leave cybersecurity and become “the Realtor I never had.”
Antweil ended up working with Sharon Ketko, a West Plano Realtor, calling the experience “… a wonderful foundation; I got to shadow one of the top 10 agents in the Metroplex. He joined Ebby Halliday in 2021, then met Levy. The rest, as they say, is history.
Different styles, same goals
There is little doubt that the duo approach buying and selling differently. Levy, the more laid back of the two, provides a solid network of agents and Realtors created and honed over his 30-plus years in the business. Antweil focuses on creating and maintaining the system that helps keep things moving, through technology and other tools. “There are elements here that involve merging tribal knowledge of the area of real estate with the massive network of people that Alan brings to the table, combined with newfound marketing, better technology and an ability to move at the speed that real estate moves today,” Antweil explained.
Even their personal lives are different. Levy and his wife, Renee, are members of Shearith Israel. The couple have two children and two grandchildren. Antweil and spouse Madison have two daughters (one adult and a younger one starting third grade), and are members of Temple Emanu-El. “We’re a multigenerational team,” Levy noted.
But both are on the same page when it comes to the business. Specifically, “we’re both genuine people, and will always be truthful with clients,” Levy commented. The team is also prepared to adapt to the market changes, with help from experience and knowledge regarding what buyers are looking for and how sellers can better prepare their homes for sale.
“The Dallas real estate market is just as up and down as the stock market right now,” Antweil said. “Working with someone who only does a handful of deals a year can only give you a handful of experience. At any given time, Alan and I have a dozen deals under contract. The benefit there is that if someone wants to know what is happening in real estate, Alan and I are definitely qualified to answer that.”
Prepping buyers and sellers
How does the team approach clients? They first sit down with the buyers or sellers to determine what they want. For the buyer, the team will set up a two-hour meeting, and fully learn what the potential homeowner is looking for. “Not a lot of agents will take that time,” Antweil observed. Levy and Antweil also make sure that the buyers they represent are prequalified or preapproved for loans before the home search begins. “What’s happening in our market right now, is that homes in the $200,000 to $500,000 range are selling with multiple offers,” Levy said. “We need to be ready to put in an offer, and that buyer needs to be prequalified or preapproved for a loan.”
When it comes to sellers, the approach involves what could best be called “kind honesty.” “It’s our job to come in and tell you, not what you like, but what other people like,” Antweil said. This can be difficult, given that selling a home can be highly personal, something that Levy and Antweil understand. However, “Our job is to get as many people looking at your house as we can,” Antweil commented. “We know what buyers are looking for, because we work with them, too.”
This is one of the team’s strengths; the ability to bring as many buyers as possible to homes on the market. “Because of higher interest rates, people are rethinking the homebuying process,” Levy said. “Any house has to be marketed in today’s world, where you need to create buyer enthusiasm.”
Cementing a bond
The team is consistently looking for new ways to improve what already seems to be working. As anyone remotely involved with buying or selling a home these days understands, the market is constantly changing. Levy and Antweil continue to adapt.
This isn’t to suggest that this partnership is 100% smooth sailing. Both men are strong-minded, meaning disagreements are a fact of life. But both also understand and appreciate one another, acknowledging that honesty and communication are the foundation of the relationship.
“I wanted to work with BJ because I wanted someone who was prepared to listen,” Levy said. “BJ does listen. I’m also finding, more and more, that he has a certain knowledge. What we see here are old ways and new ways of doing things.”