Allen Texas Homebuyer Video Testimonial

Video testimonial from recent clients who purchased a home in Allen, Texas.

Working with first-time homebuyers is always a rewarding experience for both of us!

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Is it Ethical for Lenders to Influence Short Sale Values?

A couple of weeks ago a lender ordered an appraisal on one of my Short Sale listings. He had been hired by the lender to set the value. He was an out-of-area appraiser and did not have a SUPRA key, so one of us had to meet him at the property.

Foreclosure Notice

Licensed from iStockPhoto

As we went through the property together, we noted the overlay roof with rotting decking and soffits, carpets that would need to be replaced, deteriorating siding, and rotted beams on the front of the house. I suspect that the buyer will have to pay cash or perhaps a 203(k) rehab loan due to the roof and rot.

As we talked, he shared his comparables.  I asked him why he did not use the three foreclosures on the same street rather than going into another subdivision to find sales. He told me that the lender’s directions were “not to use foreclosures or Short Sales” as comparables. Of course, when the value came in it was at least $20k too high.

If this was a normal mortgage, you can be sure those three foreclosures would have been used to determine value but in a Short Sale, they will not. This process almost guarantees that the home will go into foreclosure.

Let me understand the situation. We created HVCC to allow appraisers to operate without influence. The AMCs are usually owned by the lenders, so now the lenders are telling appraisers how to value properties!

So all we’ve done is to have the appraisers work for the lenders (through the AMCs) rather than the borrowers.  This has driven up the cost to the borrower, reduced the income of the appraisers, and increased lender profits.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Farmers Branch TX Homes For Sale 13945 Charcoal

Farmers Branch TX Homes For Sale 13945 Charcoal

Copyright 2010 - Imaged2Sell

3 Bedrooms | 2 Baths | 2-Car Garage | 1008 SF/Tax

Farmers Branch TX Homes For Sale – Great potential for investor in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. Covered front porch. Light and bright kitchen with lots of storage. French doors open to large heavily-treed back yard with storage building. Complete AC system replaced in 2009. Across the street from Rawhide Park. Enjoy the walking paths, mature trees, and playground along Rawhide Stream. Easy access to 635. 

Current status, pricing, photos, and a virtual tour for this Farmers Branch TX Home for Sale.

Source: NTREIS

Where to Search for a HUD Foreclosure

The Branch Team has relaunched!

If you’re searching for HUD Foreclosures or HUD Homes, this website is for you. It contains information about HUD properties and links to all the available HUD homes in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, and Tarrant counties.

Unlike many foreclosure sites, we will not ask you to pay us to look at foreclosure listings, nor will we require you to give us your contact information. Feel free to use the “HUD Search” links on the site and you can have immediate access to all active HUD Foreclosure listings in the greater Dallas – Ft. Worth Metroplex.

The Branch Team with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs is a HUD Approved Broker and is authorized to place bids on HUD properties.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Fax Reader by Smalltalk Consulting Ltd and Follow Me Fax by EDocFile Inc

I don’t often write blogs about software but every now and then a company stands out and deserves to be recognized. This time I came across two great companies and products in a single project.

Over the past couple of weeks we began to transition from an online fax service to a fax machine and a fax server in our office. We had had problems getting our faxes from time-to-time so we either had to find a new online service or bring it back in-house. The goals were to remain paperless, retain functionality, and have no increase in cost.

The Brother 7820N can be used as a traditional paper fax machine or a paperless fax using Brother’s PC-FAX software.   We had an old laptop so we loaded it with a fresh copy of Windows XP Pro, PC-FAX, and we had a nice little paperless fax server up and running.  Remain Paperless, Check!

Follow Me Fax by EDocFile Inc

With an online fax service you typically get your emails via email in PDF format. We were able purchase Follow Me Fax which can convert the TIF format from the Brother into a PDF and send it out via email. We soon discovered that the TIFs produced by the Brother fax machine have a flaw that prevents the PDF engine in Follow Me Fax from producing a PDF file.

EDocFile, the software developer, was responsive and we were able to troubleshoot the issue. While they could not solve the ability to make PDF issues (it’s a Brother issue), they did update Follow Me Fax to deal with the odd files names produced by the Brother fax machine. The good news is we are able to forward the emails as multi-page TIF files.  

The only downside to TIF files was that we would not be able to view faxes on our iPhones. We’re mobile quite a bit and the ability to view faxes on the road was a capability we wanted to retain.


In my quest for a solution, I came across Fax Reader by SmallTalk Consulting. Fax Reader is an application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod that was designed to read multi-page TIF files.  I quickly purchased a copy on iTunes and installed it on my iPhone. 

I had problems getting it to work and dropped the developer an email at 2 in the morning. I was really surprised to get a response within a few minutes. We exchanged emails and determined that I had failed to allow Location Services to be active in the software. I made one quick change to the Location Services settings and we were up and running. Retain Functionality, Check!

We will be terminating the online fax service saving about $15 a month. We’re porting the number to our fax machine in the office at a cost of $2 per month. Follow Me Fax was $99 and Fax Reader was $3.99.  We were able to reduce our costs by $13 a month with an upfront investment of $103. The project pays for itself in 8 months. No Increase in Cost, Check.

The developer of Fax Reader has given me five Promo Codes for a free thirty-day trial. Email me if you would like one of them. 

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Tax Information For Homeowners

As a property owner, you are required to pay property taxes. It is taxed each year by a variety of jurisdictions including the county, city and school district.


Licensed from iStockPhoto

If you purchased in 2010, you may need to notify the taxing authorities of your ownership so that the tax rolls will reflect the change. You may do this by contacting the appropriate tax appraisal district in your county from the following list:

Collin County Appraisal District – 469-742-9200 –
Dallas County Appraisal District – 214-631-0910 –
Denton County Appraisal District – 940-349-3800 –
Ellis County Appraisal District – 972-937-3552 –
Rockwall County Appraisal District – 972-771-2034 –
Tarrant County Appraisal District – 817-284-0024 –

Your property is assigned a single appraised value, which is sent to all taxing jurisdictions. The jurisdiction then applies the tax rate, as set by its governing body, to the appraised value.


On January 1, 2011, value, ownership, legal description of the property and exemption status of the taxpayer is determined. Several forms of tax relief are available which may reduce the taxable value of your property. Applying for exemptions is the taxpayer’s responsibility. Some exemptions require a new application each year. Contact your appraisal district to learn more about the following exemptions and how to file for them:

General Homestead Exemption
Over 65 Exemption
Disabled Individual Exemption
Disabled Veteran Exemption
Agriculture Land Exemption

To receive your exemption(s), you must own the property and be living in the property as of January 1st. Your application must be applied for on or before April 30, 2011 to receive the tax benefits for this year. This is a FREE service.

Remember, tax statements are generally mailed in October of each year. The taxes are payable on or after October 31, however, you may elect to pay them as late as January 31 without penalty. Taxes become delinquent February 1 and on this date penalties and interest do accrue. If you receive a Tax Statement and your mortgage company is escrowing funds for taxes from your monthly payments, forward the statement to your mortgage company so they can pay the taxes.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Basic information provided by Republic Title

Selling It Short

Dave Liniger, Chairman and Cofounder of RE/MAX International recently published an article titled, “Selling It Short” in DS Magazine. The article is a report card on Short Sales in general and where he thinks we’re headed in 2011.

Housing Crisis

Licensed from iStockPhoto

Dave focuses on three major areas; avoidable problems, untrained agents, and good ideas.  

“…it’s time for avoidable problems such as lost files, conflicting responses, and inadequate communication to be minimized or eliminated altogether,” he wrote. While we don’t see much of this these days, the delays as the file gets bounced from negotiator to negotiator can be very frustrating for the agents, seller, and the buyer.  

In our book titled, Avoiding Foreclosure – The Field Guide to Short Sales, we wrote, “If you are in the position to buy or sell a house through a Short Sale, ONLY work with a real estate agent who is well-versed in the Short Sale negotiation process.” Dave had the same thoughts when he wrote. “Unprepared agents who enter this arena – where even the simplest sale is still a complex, multilayered transaction – do a disservice to consumers and the industry as a whole.”

The real jewel in Dave’s article was his thoughts on “Good Ideas”. He wrote, “The best idea might be the frontloading of lender decisions regarding acceptable terms. A listing agent who knows that the required net proceeds have already been determined can take the leap and proceed with good faith and confidence that a reasonable offer will be considered seriously. Using this as a starting point, rather than the submission of an offer, gives the agent a valuable edge in marketing the property as well as managing the expectations of the servicer, the seller, and the potential buyers. It’s a better way to go.”

As a major Short Sale listing broker, I have to agree that this would be a great idea. We already do it with FHA Short Sales. The only issues we run into here are poorly completed BPOs or appraisals where the value is so out of line with what the market that it makes selling the property impossible. Lenders should have processes in-place that will allow us to challenge the values rather than leaving us stuck with that value for 120 days.

We encourage homeowners across the United States to get educated on the options available should they become financially distressed. Short Sales are a great tool, providing relief to all parties. Just remember to choose a REALTOR® with a proven Short Sale track record to negotiate on your behalf. Making the right choice can mean the world of difference to your financial future.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR