The Branch Team Selects IDX-Broker for IDX

The Branch Team has selected IDX-Broker to provide IDX search capabilities for our blog and websites.

IDX Broker

IDX is an acronym for Internet Data Exchange. IDX is the policy instituted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to govern how MLS member participants can display active MLS listing information on their websites.

In simple terms, IDX is the means of extracting the data from a Multiple Listing Service and delivering it to a website for public consumption.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

How Is Your Emergency Fund Holding Up?

Rob Minton recently published the results of a survey he conducted in an article titled, “Survey Results: Average Agent is Headed for Poverty in Retirement.”  While Rob focused on many facets of financial planning, I took note of the results of question number 5 on his survey where he asked agents if the have an emergency fund.

How Is Your Emergency Fund Holding Up?

Licensed from ShutterStock

The results of that question were:

33%   I don’t have an emergency fund
10%   Emergency fund to cover 1 month of living expenses
20%   Emergency fund to cover 3 months of living expenses
37%   Emergency fund to cover 6 months of living expenses

Given the state of the economy, I actually thought the results of this question were better than I expected. Many of the agents I speak to are pulling money from their emergency fund in order to stay in business. It’s not just the new agents, but many of the top producers are feeling the strain of the economy.

I spend quite a bit of time with other small business owners and the general consensus is that many of them are “treading water” just trying to keep their businesses profitable.

I noted that the National Association of REALTORs® is projecting a steady rise in real estate sales over the next few years, but the recovery is going to be slow.

How’s your emergency fund holding up?

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Products and Services or Advice?

It is important to continually ask yourself (and be honest) the following question…

“How do your customers, your clients, and your prospects see you?”

Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side at the top, label the column, “Products and Services.” Label the right column, “Help and Advice.”

Products and Services

Help and Advice


Every time you are in contact with a customer or prospect, whether they call you or you have a face‑to‑face meeting, evaluate the overall purpose of the meeting.

Did your customer or prospect look to you for the products or services you provide? Or did they seek your help, advice or counsel to help them make a decision that would solve a particular need or challenge they were facing?

Once you’ve determined that, place a mark in the appropriate column. Then at the end of the month, evaluate the results of your list.

If you have more marks in the “Products and Services” column than in the “Help and Advice” column, you pretty well know what perception your customers have of you.

But equally important, you also know what you need to do to change that perception. You can then begin to develop and implement a plan of action that focuses on improving your image in the eyes of your customers. Then test yourself again several months later. By comparing your evaluation sheets over the period of a year or two, you can easily see the progress you’re making.

Improvement is not always difficult. Oftentimes a person may not know where they are weak or where they need to improve. But if you can isolate those areas that need improvement, you can then begin to take the necessary steps to effect positive change.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Achieving Rock Star Status

The New Swiss Army® Knife

Swiss Army Style Knife

Licensed from iStockPhoto


My partner wound up running late for a showing and I got “tagged” to fill in at the last minute.

I was nowhere near the office, so I used my smart phone to log into the MLS and get the details on the property I was going to show and to get the showing instructions. I made a quick call to the showing service and scheduled the showing.

My GPS was not in the car, so I used the GPS built into the phone to find the address and plot a route to the property.

I left my keycard in the office, but I was able to use the SUPRA application loaded on my iPhone to open the key box. I got the lights turned on and waited for the clients to arrive. While I waited, I knocked out a couple of emails, checked in on Activerain, and approved a new blog posting on my WordPress blog.

The clients finally arrived and we started going through the property. They lingered and talked about what they liked and did not like. At one point they want to know on which side of the house did the sun set. I opened the compass application and determined which way was west.

The power was off in the property but they want to look in the garage and climb into the attic. I opened the flashlight application that used the flash LED on the iPhone 4. It’s a remarkable little flashlight. I picked up a splinter on the way into the attic…ouch!

They had a couple of follow up questions, so I shot a quick text message off to the listing agent. He responded while we were still at the property.

We talked about financing and I input all the figures into my Mortgage Application to arrive as an estimated payment. It was within their budget so they decided to make an offer. We parted ways and I headed back to the office to put it together.

On the drive back to the office, I retrieved my 25 year old Swiss Army® knife and pulled out the tweezers to pull the splinter I picked up on the way into the attic. That old knife has been everywhere with me over the years including two combat tours in the Middle East. It’s a simple one with a knife, scissors, nail file, tweezers, and a tooth pick.

As I put the tweezers back into the knife I realized that in many ways, my iPhone 4 is the new Swiss Army® knife. It’s packed with so many useful tools. I can’t imagine being without it any more than I never leave home without that little, red pocket knife.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Swiss Army® is a registered trademark of Victorinox Swiss Army Inc.

What Failures Don’t Like to Do

Success or Failure

The more you serve your customers and help them satisfy their needs, the more you will prosper.
And as a business owner, business manager, professional person or entrepreneur, serving your customers’ needs effectively means that you must do the things that unsuccessful business owners, managers, professionals, and entrepreneurs don’t do. The things that those unsuccessful people don’t do are the things that most of us don’t like to do either.

There is no doubt that it is difficult to work long hours or on weekends when your family is waiting for you at home, to have only a couple of “shoppers” stop by or to be stood up for an appointment someone made with you.
It’s tough to make telephone calls only to be met with hostile and rude people on the other end who curse at you or slam the phone down.
It’s discouraging to set goals, schedule interviews, explain the technical aspects and benefits of the products and services you provide, overcome customers’ objections and misconceptions, and go out of your way to give exceptional service, only to have your customer go elsewhere because they found the same product or service for a few dollars less.
Enough of these experiences can be discouraging for anyone. And after a while, some people just quit trying. They find it easier to adjust their standard of living downward to match their income, than to adjust their income upward to create their desired standard of living.

They are no longer in control. Inflation dictates the price of things they buy, and competition and luck determine how much they have to spend. Fortunately for them, many of their competitors are in the same situation.

Outstanding success is unusual and is dependent on many different factors. For some people, it just happens. They’re in the right place at the right time, they do nothing special, everything just falls into place for them. Others put in long hours and much work only to find average success.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Single Property Websites For Under $2.50

Single Property Websites seem to be in-fashion. I like the idea of the seller having an easy URL that they can give out to their friends and family. I didn’t care for all the work and added expense so I found an easier way.

Here’s a step-by-step:

Register the New Domain – I use GoDaddy and always use a .info Top Level Domain. You can register the new domain for one year for $2.17. In this example, I registered

Forward Domain to Site – Log in to the domain manager and open the control panel for the new domain. Click on Domain Forwarding, enter the URL of the single property website, and click Save. I use the property website on but you could easily use or any other site such as Point2, Zillow, etc.


Start Using the Single Property Site
– Note it may take about 4 hours for all the DNSs to update and the forward to go into effect.  I wait until the next day to send the URL to the seller. You can try it by clicking here.

I hope this brief tutorial gives you some ideas on how to add value to your sellers with a minimal amount of time and cost.

Action Makes the Difference!

Action Makes the Difference

Action Makes the Difference!
Tom Branch | RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs

It’s important to keep an open mind as you read, hear, or otherwise experience ideas that can help you. Try not to judge them or cast them aside too quickly because they don’t sound good, they’re not part of your personality or make‑up, or because you may have heard them before.

Instead, consider these courses of action:

If you’ve heard an idea before, say to yourself, “Yes, I’ve heard that before, but am I using it? If not, why not?”

If you are currently using the idea, ask yourself, “How effective am I at using it? How can I improve on it to make it even more effective for me and my business?”

Next, ask yourself this question: “What will I do as a result of what I’ve learned?”

Remember, it’s not what you know – it’s what you do that counts. Ideas are powerful. And good ideas are really important for any business. They’re what keep your interest up and your business fresh and alive and growing. And when put into action, good ideas can make a huge difference in the way you do business, the results you realize, the fun you have, and the profits you make.

Activerain is full of good, practical, and usable ideas that can help make that big difference for you. But it’s up to you to tailor them to your own unique situation, and more importantly, to put them into action.