By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This is not just the first week of 2018. It’s also the first week since the closure of a long-running regionally renowned and respected West Seattle business that might not have been on your radar: Dupré + Scott Apartment Advisors.
A reader note put the closure on our radar. We had certainly heard of Dupre + Scott – much-quoted experts tracking and analyzing trends and other information for and about the apartment industry – but hadn’t realized they were based in West Seattle, with an office in Morgan Junction.
And now, Patty Dupré and Mike Scott – married 35 years, working together for 38 years – have closed up shop.
It’s explained on their website, starting with:
This was a difficult decision to make. We have been doing this research for 38 years thanks to the tremendous support we have received from our subscribers, clients, and participants. We are honored that they have put so much trust in us, and our work.
In return, we have been passionate about providing the best possible research, and have enjoyed knowing so many wonderful people over the years.
So it is with mixed emotions that we are closing our business. But after analyzing sales almost daily for 38 years for the Investment Report, conducting 35 years of semiannual surveys for the Vacancy Report, and… well, you get the idea, it’s time for us to move on.
When we started our research back in 1979 there were just over 80,000 market rate apartment units in the Puget Sound region. Now there are more than 300,000 units. We have tracked them through the development phase, analyzed their sales history, line by line operating expenses, unit mix, amenities, rents, vacancies, and more.
They considered selling, or hiring people to do some of the work they themselves have done for all these years. But they decided there was no way to do either and still maintain the “unique, reliable, insightful, and … useful” product they have provided all these years.
Not to mention humorous, as you can see in their farewell video – which includes, of course, the newest industry info:
We contacted them by e-mail to ask a few more questions about the end of their long run. They have lived in West Seattle for 37 years as well as working here, Mike told us. This isn’t a full retirement, he added – “we manage a few West Seattle apartment buildings we own,” so they are “just closing down one business and focusing more time on another one.” But what’s explained in their farewell message is true: “We’re just a small mom-and-pop business, Patty and I are the sole owners and we do all of the research work ourselves. In 2005 we hired an office manager, so now there’s three of us. Our office manager will stay with us to manage our apartments.” Dupré + Scott as a standalone business dates back “only” to 1995, he adds, as they “did the same research work in a larger firm.” When they left it, they “started analyzing more aspects of the local apartment industry (like development activity and line-item operating costs).”
While it’s a three-person firm, many more were involved as subscribers and participants, Mike explained: “Participants are apartment owners and property managers who give us information on rents, vacancies, expenses, etc. In return, we give them the results of this research for free. Subscribers are government, lenders, developers, investors, appraisers, consultants, brokers, etc.”
The biggest change they’ve seen over the many years is the “zip code and company profile” of subscribers and participants – most used to be “local and individuals or smallish local companies. Now a lot are out-of-state and foreign because Seattle is ‘hot’ and because the product has changed so much (much more expensive to build mid- and high-rise than 2- and 3-story wood frame apartments) the companies are larger – more corporate and institutional.”
But the need for the information hasn’t changed – in fact, just before we finished this story, we heard them mentioned during the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee’s first meeting of 2018, in a discussion about a proposal that will affect the apartment industry – loosening the requirements for building parking.
While they spent decades building a business, Mike and Patty also built a successful marriage. And no, familiarity does not breed contempt. He told us, “We are with each other pretty much all day every day – our offices are right next to each other. And when we are not working, we always hang out together – we share all the same hobbies, from travel, to hiking, to bike riding, movies …. you get the idea. Friends have asked us how working together all the time works, and I tell them that we don’t know, we’re just experimenting with the concept – after all, we’ve only been at it for 38 years. In reality, I can’t imagine a better way to build the perfect relationship. We understand what each other has to go through every day, the ups and downs, problems, successes, etc.”
Any advice for other couples pondering going into business together? Mike’s reply: “Although I can do a lot of what Patty does in the business and she can do a lot of what I do – we recognize that we each have some unique skills and that we each have different ways of doing the same thing, so we divvy up the responsibilities and don’t interfere in each other’s work – we’re there to help, give advice, moral support – but we don’t hover over each other giving unwanted advice or criticism. Patty has her role and I have mine. At the end of the day we talk, unwind, and share-gripe-celebrate the day’s ups and downs. We’re both thankful that we get to work every day with the person we love who’s our best friend. Sounds corny but it’s the way it is.”
So besides continuing to run their smaller business, what now? More of those hobbies mentioned above – some of it possibly done at their “out-of-state” place, as well as here in Seattle.