In 2018, Hannah Messer was struggling to keep up with her coursework at Texas Tech University. Smart as a whip and talented to boot, she just wasn’t cut out for campus life. She did what any young girl would do. She called her dad.

“I want to come home and work for you,” she said.

Eric Messer, a builder and real estate broker who began his career as a home inspector 20 years ago, told his daughter to come on home. And he let her do more than answer the phones and pick up dry cleaning. He brought her on board at his then-new luxury construction company, EMRO Homes.

Young Hannah — now a 26-year-old married mom with the last name Ysbrand — brings enthusiasm, charm, a woman’s touch, and an eye for design to dear old Dad’s construction company.

The father-daughter team builds primarily in Preston Hollow and North Dallas but they do renovations and “fix and flips” all over North Texas.

They’re kind of a dream team.

Family Business 

Ysbrand studied communications at Tech. She later earned a real estate license and a degree in interior decorating

“I’ve always enjoyed talking to people,” she said. “I liked college but I would come home and my dad was building new construction. I’d look at the properties and I really had an interest in it.”

What started as helping out with marketing, cold calling, pursuing leads, and looking for sellers became a full-time gig overseeing permits and designing homes.  

“We’ve always seen real estate as a non-capped profession,” she said. “I always felt like the sky was the limit.”

Ysbrand said she and her dad are good friends and make each other laugh.

“We get along very well,” she said. “We see each other probably every single day. We joke with each other but when it comes down to getting stuff done, we know how to talk to one another.”

Ysbrand said her dad knows the business really well and has decades of experience.

“His knowledge is his strong point,” she said. “He has a lot of strengths. Knowing all the ins and outs of the industry would be the biggest one.”

Like Father, Like Daughter

Messer said his daughter has always had a great work ethic.

“She was at college and we were looking at the grades coming in and we were like, ‘Do you actually go to class?’ She just really didn’t like it; this was not her thing,” Messer said. “She’s a hard worker and a smart girl. She’s been fantastic to have on board. She hit the ground running.”

Messer is married to Sheri Messer, CEO of the homeless shelter City House in Plano. Hannah is one of their three daughters. So the question of, “What’s it like to be a woman in the male-dominated profession of home construction?” isn’t one the Messers pay much attention to. As far as Eric Messer is concerned, he lives in a woman’s world.

“Hannah is smart as a whip,” he said. “She can hold her own. When we’re in meetings sometimes, I walk away and tell the contractors they can deal directly with her.”

Living in The Lap of Luxury

EMRO Homes inventory, including a seven-bedroom new build at 4222 Myerwood Lane, ranges from about $2.4 million to $4 million.

Ysbrand said EMRO doesn’t aim to have the highest price; they want to provide a quality product. Messer added that they’re building luxury homes in neighborhoods where that kind of real estate is compatible with existing development.

“We’re going into well-established nice neighborhoods and maybe bringing them back up to the standard they need,” he said. “We’re not going into a low-income area trying to completely change the whole landscape.”

People are still moving to Dallas from other states, Ysbrand added. A $3 million house in California might be 1,800 square feet on a small lot, whereas in Dallas the buyer is getting a lot more than that.

“I hope they understand that when they come to Dallas they’re getting a lot more bang for their buck,” Ysbrand said. “As far as the luxury market goes, I don’t think it goes away. Does the price need to drop a little bit? That might be a scenario, but we try to make our business adjustable so we can adapt to what the market shows.”

An Eye For Design

Ysbrand said she tries to stay ahead of trends and keeps an eye on Instagram and Architectural Digest.

“I don’t ever want two houses to look the same,” she said. “If I use a tile in one of the bathrooms at a house, I really try to not ever use it again. I want clients to feel like this is an original home just for them.”

There are a lot of good builders in Dallas, said Messer, whose EMRO Homes is a member of the Dallas Builders Association. He tries to set EMRO apart from the pack.

“When someone looks at a beautiful house, one of three things happens,” he said. “They either hate it, they don’t remember it, or they love it. You’ve got to eliminate two of those. We always try to put saomething in the house that is unique. In all of our houses, we try to put a secondary kitchen in. We try to do some kind of a hidden door or a secret passageway. A homeowner, especially at this price point, wants to have something special.”