New Ramps Reduce Some Congestion at SRT/DNT Interchange

Sam Rayburn Tollway

Two new tolled ramps opened at the Sam Rayburn Tollway/Dallas North Tollway interchange in June, improving traffic flow in the busy area.

A new southbound exit ramp from the DNT to Legacy Drive now eases the commute for motorists trying to reach office parks and stores.

A new northbound entrance ramp to the DNT at Headquarters Drive, giving motorists direct access to the tollway from the businesses in the area, has also opened. As part of this ramp opening, an additional northbound DNT main lane will open across the DNT bridge over the SRT.

Read the entire story.

Source: North Texas Tollway Authority

Up, Up, and Away in My Beautiful (RE/MAX®) Balloon

J Webb’s lyrics, “Up and away, In my beautiful, My beautiful balloon” were playing in my mind on Wednesday morning as we gently lifted off in the RE/MAX® Balloon from a park in east Plano.

About 4 years ago Gina finished treatment for cancer and we had talked about taking a flight in a hot air balloon to celebrate the milestone. Life happens and it was placed on the shelf. We joined RE/MAX® in 2009 so the idea of a flight in the RE/MAX® Balloon seemed like the natural thing to do.

The morning flight started at 6 AM as we met with the Wayne Standefer and his crew. Gina and I climbed into the RE/MAX Balloon Team van and we headed for the launch site. We arrived on-site and Wayne and his crew went to work.

(Click on photos for larger versions)

 Preparing the RE/MAX Balloon for Flight  Prepaing the RE/MAX Balloon for Flight

After Wayne checked the equipment in the gondola, it was unloaded and turned on its side. The 80-foot canopy was slowly rolled out onto the lawn and meticulously attached to the gondola.  As the crew stretched out the canopy, a large fan was used to initially inflate the balloon. I was enlisted to help hold open the base of the canopy open.

 Tom Branch Holding Open the RE/MAX Balloon.

Wayne jumped in the gondola and fired up the heater to add some lift to the balloon. That first blast of flame and the rushing sound made me jump! The second blast was easier on me.

 Inflating the Balloon

Before we knew it the huge RE/MAX® Balloon was inflated. Wayne hollered at me to get in the gondola along with my gear (DSLR and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on ice). I then helped Gina into the gondola and we were off on a new adventure.

As we quietly ascended into the early morning sky, I looked back to see the ground crew loading the van and preparing to follow us on the ground. The morning winds were gentle and taking us north. As we glided across US75, we had a good view of the early traffic as commuters scurried into Dallas.

Leaving the Ground and Chase Van Behind  Early Morning Traffic on US75 at Park

We passed just south of the Cinemark Theater at Legacy and US75. With the commercial areas behind us, we drifted over the Chase Oaks Golf Course and into the residential areas of central Plano. We were both amazed that there is still so much open space in the area.

Cinemark Legacy Theater in Plano TX  Chase Oaks Golf Course Plano TX

We floated along about 150 feet off the ground. As we passed over houses, people out for their morning walks or getting ready to leave for work would wave and call out, “good morning” to us. We waved and returned their greetings.

Gina Branch Riding in the RE/MAX Balloon   Well Kept Home in Plano TX

Our path continued to the north. We few over The Preserve in Allen, a new subdivision that Gina and I have been following. We were able to get some really good photos of the progress the developer is making.

The Preserve in Allen from the RE/MAX Balloon

As the end of our adventure neared, Wayne took a few moments to explain the landing procedures to us. I’m retired from the Air Force and still had not given the idea of landing much thought.  Wayne skillfully descended into a vacant field. The gondola touched down and as Wayne deflated the canopy, the gondola rolled over onto its side. Flight complete.

Within minutes the chase van arrived on-scene. As the crew packed up the equipment, Gina and I popped the cork on the chilled bottle of Champagne. Wayne has a special toast reserved for the end of each flight and we celebrated a nice flight and a safe landing.

Pop Open the Champagne - We're Safe and Sound on the Ground

The equipment was packed and we all boarded the van for the ride back to the launch site to say our goodbyes and pick up our RE/MAX® SMART car.

The Branch Team SMART Car

What a neat experience!

RE/MAX® has a fleet of more than 115 balloons located both in the US and internationally.  RE/MAX of Texas owns 7 of them.

Photos Copyright 2011 – Tom and Gina Branch

A Balloon View of The Preserve in Allen

The Preserve in Allen from the RE/MAX Balloon on June 29 2011
Click for Larger View

Gina and I flew over The Preserve in Allen this morning in the RE/MAX® Balloon. This vantage point gives you a good view of how things are progressing.

The development is really starting to take shape! The lake has been completed and is starting to fill. You can also see that the lots have been surveyed and leveled. The roads have been laid out and the developer will be installing utilities soon. You can see the stacks of blue-green pipes at the front of the development.

You can see all homes for sale in Twin Creeks, Allen, TX here.

Read more about The Preserve in Allen.

Photo: Copyright 2011 – Tom Branch

New Home Rebate

Purchase a new home through us and we'll help you with your closing costs! We'll give you a credit of 1.5% of the price of the home at closing to use towards your closing costs.

Click here for our New Home Rebates page.

Plano TX Townhome For Sale 8633 Naomi

8633 Naomi Townhome For Sale

2 Bedrooms | 2.1 Baths |2-Car Garage | 1633 SF/Building Plan

Plano TX Townhome For Sale – Contract NOW for JULY move in on this gorgeous CATALINA plan loaded with upgrades. Beautiful brick and stone exterior with hand laid brick porch. Welcoming 8ft Knotty Alder front door with speakeasy. Gourmet kitchen has stainless, granite, gas, convection oven, and maple cabs. Two dining areas great for entertaining. Gas on private patio. Energy efficient with 16 SEER HVAC, radiant barrier, cocoon insulation, double pane and low E windows. 

Click here for Current Pricing, Details, Photos, and Virtual Tour.

See all Townhomes For Sale in the Enclaves of Willow Crest.

Source: NTREIS

Rental Scams Hit the Area…Again

Click for Larger Version

My phone has been ringing like crazy all morning long. Almost all the calls are about a new lease listing in Garland, TX at 3313 Ivanhoe

Apparently some low-life has poached my listing and posted it on HotPads at $700.  They’ve looked up the owner’s name and it’s made to look like a For Lease By Owner listing.

This is a scam! The guy tells a compelling story about being out of the country and asks you to wire him funds via Western Union.

Don’t fall for scams!  If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The best way to protect yourself is to work with a reputable and local  leasing agent.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Lakewood Estates in Coppell Texas

Lakewood Estates in Coppell, TX

I was out working in Lakewood Estates in Coppell, Texas this morning. It was early in the day and the temperatures had not yet climbed out of the 80’s. I was early for my appointment so I sat on a bench in the park next to the lake.

As I sipped my Starbucks coffee, I watch as the ducks paddled around the lake and a couple of large turtles sunned themselves on the dam. I was not alone as people sat on their back patios doing the same.

Coppell TX is a bedroom community located on northwest of Dallas. Coppell offers nice homes, abundant shopping and dining, and easy access to many of the major highways including 635, 35E, and 121.

See all Homes for Sale in Lakewood Estates.

See all Homes for Sale in Coppell, TX.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Is It the Right Time to Buy?

Renting Versus Buying a Home

I had lunch with the sales staff of a local builder I represent yesterday. A couple of tasty pizzas combined with an interesting conversation led to this post.

Many of the potential buyers are walking in concerned about everything they are reading, hearing, and seeing in the national media. “It’s a bad time to buy”, seems to be the news of the day.

As we sat there and ate, we jumped onto Google and looked at the rents of an apartment complex within sight of the subdivision. The rent for a 1608 square foot apartment is $1639 a month. We compared that to a brand-new 1620 square-foot townhome. The townhome is priced at $195k. An FHA mortgage with a 3.5 percent down payment results in a mortgage payment of about $1626 including principle, interest, taxes, insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA dues.

For the same money being paid for rent, one could own a townhome. These figures do not take the tax advantages or long-term appreciation in account. 

Home and interest rates are both low. It will not stay that way. Home prices in North Texas are up 3.5 percent over last year and Collin County is up 5.4 percent. Interest rates will remain where they are as long as the government continues to purchase most of the mortgage loans. They cannot continue to do so forever.

I suspect we will look back at this period in 20 years as the golden opportunity of a lifetime.

Search the North Texas MLS.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR