How I Made It: Ann Dashiell on selling some of L.A.'s most noteworthy homes
Dashiell describes herself as always being artistic, and her introduction to homes and design came at an early age. Her father was a prominent landscape architect whose projects included the landscaping for the Houston Astrodome and Rice University. She grew up in a modern home that was once featured in Architectural Digest. Her father used to take her along to his various jobs. “I was always comfortable in that arena,” she said.
When Dashiell was 15, she started designing and selling custom jewelry to her classmates. She enjoyed catering to her customers, taking orders and receiving feedback. “The business was getting ridiculous,” she said of the interest in her wares. “So one day I told my daddy, ‘I’m going to sell it to a store.’” But breaking into the big-time proved to be difficult. Dashiell faced “rejection after rejection” as she pitched her jewelry to stores around town. Determined, she finally swayed a local business owner. “Three weeks later he had sold everything I had brought in,” she said.
A new frontier
Dashiell started working in real estate in 1992 because she needed stability as a single mother supporting her family. Despite being told early on that she wouldn’t make it in the business, she stuck with it. “It was a real journey,” she said. “But I knew if I gave it a little time, I’d be just fine.” By the end of her first year, she had her first sale: a vacant lot in Hunter’s Creek, the Beverly Hills of Houston, that sold for more than $1 million. “That got everyone’s attention,” she said. “I was hooked.”
Building on her success
“I saw a lot of new construction,” Dashiell said. “I practically lived on a job site to get to know the workers and to learn all about the new development.” Learning the ins and outs of home-building opened a door to new business. A year after visiting a project, she walked the job site with the developer. “I told him, ‘The toilet is in the foyer, you plumbed it wrong,’” she said. Sure enough, Dashiell was right, and the dedicated display helped her win the developer’s trust and his business.
Moving in a new direction
Although she had established herself as one of Houston’s top agents, with clients that included the owner of the Houston Texans, Dashiell felt a pull to the west. Her daughter had moved to Los Angeles to go to law school, and her son lived in Hollywood. Both children had started their own families. “One day I woke up and said, ‘I’m done,’” she said. “I had my house up for lease, and I sold it as soon as I could.”
Two years after arriving in L.A., Dashiell sold the Owlwood estate, once the home of Tony Curtis and later Sonny and Cher, for $90 million; she landed the coveted listing through a family connection. For Dashiell it wasn’t just a trophy, it was a reputation builder. Dashiell discretely showed the 10-acre estate off-market to close to 100 people. She kept detailed notes and a spreadsheet on the interested parties and their agents, following up with each one at every turn. The attention to detail and discretion earned her respect among her peers. “I got to meet all the top producers in the area, and they got to know me,” she said. “It gave me a reputation for being careful.”
Through others’ eyes
Dashiell practices patience and understanding the difference between what the client wants and what’s best for them. She recalls one experience in which her client’s wife found a home for sale that backed up to the freeway and a commercial building and was on a fault line. “I told the husband, ‘You can’t buy this house,’” she said. “But the wife had to have it, and they bought it.” She received a call from the couple a few years later begging her to sell the house. “I told them don’t ever do that again,” she said.
A team effort
“You cannot learn this business on your own,” Dashiell said of L.A.’s high-end real estate market. She credits her success to mentors who have helped her along the way, including Julie Greenwood, who gave her her first real estate job. She also sees strength in numbers. “In L.A., it is the most competitive and high-pressure environment,” she said. “You need to set yourself up to succeed, and a top team can help with that.” This year Dashiell joined Aaron Kirman Partners, the International Estates Division for Pacific Union in L.A.
Dashiell never thought she’d end up in real estate. As an artist, she was passionate and highly successful: “I sold over 12,000 paintings,” she said. But she is a firm believer in being fully invested in what you do. “When I left art, I left it completely even though I loved it,” she said. “I went into real estate 100%.”
“I do two things: I do real estate and I do family,” Dashiell said. She lives in Beverly Hills and enjoys spending time with her son, a television producer, his wife and their children, and with her daughter’s family and their four kids. Cookouts, hikes and trips are always a family affair.
Dashiell & Associates vast knowledge of the market, excellent people skills, and natural sales ability built a solid following of loyal clients. They have great instincts and most importantly, the clients trust them.