This week, I’m joined by the President and Owner of Investors Alliance Diana Zuniga as we share our takes on the future of the real estate business in Austin, Texas. Diana shares her backstory on how she went from being an aspiring professional dancer to a trailblazer in the Texas real estate industry, bringing others along for the ride. We also discuss the future of real estate in Austin amid a rapidly changing world and throw out ideas on the local change we want to see. Although Austin has not been left out of challenging times, Diana says she can’t help but be optimistic for the future.
[00:00] Start of episode
[02:56] Starting out in real estate and the risk involved
[09:55] Real estate after covid and a possible recession
[15:21] The expansion and growth of real estate
[21:04] How elections affect real estate
[23:51] City policies for Austin real estate
What was it like, starting out in a male-dominated field?
Especially when she started in real estate, Diana entered a business world run mostly by males. Diana thinks that women are innately risk averse and, with real estate being a risky business, there aren’t as many women in commercial real estate. However, being a woman in the real estate business does come with its advantages and Diana shares some of those. All in all, despite these challenges, Diana thinks that with the right intention, people can find success in real estate.
“I think that’s part of being any professional in a very risky career, that you just have to put your intention out there and just believe and believe that it’s going to work hard . . . and of course, you have to follow through.”
Diana’s outlook on a post-covid workplace
With covid pushing people to work from home, many have wanted to stay. Diana shares her take on a good workplace model and discusses what should stay the same post-covid. From her point of view, Diana prefers one-on-one meetings over working on Teams. She thinks that there’s no substitution for an in-person, “relational” environment. On the other hand, Diana dislikes the cubicle model and mentions a possible hybrid solution.
“Our work models are changing . . . and I know that there’s pushback from some employees in some industries on coming back but I think to build the corporate culture, to have cohesiveness, I’d much rather have a one-on-one meeting with you than zoom you or just work on Teams.”
What would a recession look like in Austin?
As experts debate on whether an American recession is inevitable, those in the real estate business prepare for any scenario—although Diana doesn’t think that a recession would mean the end for Austin. She’s optimistic about the future. She thinks back to 2008 and the financial fallout of the time. Diana emphasizes how customers would pay entirely in cash for a condo by 2010 and how things have changed—even since covid began. Diana continues, talking further on Austin’s affordability crisis and how sharply mortgage rates have risen.
“Austin in particular—we’ve always been the last fall and the first to come out.”
What’s it like, working with the city staff on projects?
Working with the city staff on real-estate projects can be a long and complicated process that requires communication between many departments. As we know, time is money and Diana shares several ideas on how things can be improved to speed up the process. To Diana, it all comes down to elected officials and how they choose to run the city. Diana emphasizes the importance of voting noting that it’s the local leadership who decides how Austin is going to grow. Overall, Diana is optimistic about Austin’s future and hopes to see more regional-focused planning for the city.
“Some people are elected to office by a very slim margin . . . People can win by 10 votes. So your vote does matter. If you feel strongly about something, you should vote for the candidate that shares your views and make it happen—and take someone with you to vote.”
Keep up with Diana Zuniga on LinkedIn.
Visit the Investors Alliance website.