Susan L. Johnson Joins The Branch Team

Susan L. Johnson

The Branch Team with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs welcomes Susan L. Johnson as the newest member of the team.

In today’s market you need a strong advocate working for you. Staying in tune with her clients’ needs is Susan’s primary focus. Whether you’re buying or selling, Susan’s unparalleled commitment to maximum results shines through!

“Susan was there for us throughout the entire process and has been available ever since. She truly cares about her clients. We would highly recommend her services.” – Shirley Hobbs

Licensed since 2000, Susan continually seeks advanced accreditations to better serve her clients. She currently holds the Accredited Buyers Representative (GRI) and Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designations.

Susan has served on the ALC (Agent Leadership Council), as Chairman of the MLS Committee, on the Board for NTREIS (North Texas Real Estate Information Systems), and is actively involved in the local community.

Susan grew up a Navy/Air Force brat moving nearly every two years, but finally anchored in Dallas. She writes poetry, plays softball, and loves animals. Susan never meets a stranger and always keeps a positive outlook. For that same “positive” real estate experience, please contact Susan L. Johnson with The Branch Team.

Susan can be contacted at 214.227.6626 or email to

Posting Phantom Listings to Internet Sites – Is It Legal or Ethical?

I received an email this afternoon from a potential client.  He had found a listing on Zillow and had emailed me for more information.  The listing did not have an address but an ID number in Plano, Texas. The listing had been posted by a local agent with a large brokerage.

I dropped over to the MLS and brought up all of her listings.  She had 7 active listings and none in Plano. I went back over to Zillow and noted she has over 170 active listings.  I dropped her an email and asked her for the MLS number or listing information if this was a non-MLS listing. She emailed back that, I could look it up myself on a local new homes sales site.

What’s she’s done is to copy new home listings and put them up on Zillow as if they are her listings. I see some resale listings as well.  I’ll bet those have been poached from other agents.

I see three issues–legal, ethical, and copyright.

I can’t find the rule in the Texas Property Code, but offering a property for sale without the consent of the owner rings a bell with me. 

This is a clear violation of Article 12 of NAR’s Code of Ethics.  SOP 12-4 states, ” REALTORS® shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without authority. When acting as listing brokers or as subagents, REALTORS® shall not quote a price different from that agreed upon with the seller/landlord.

Many of the “photos” are artists renderings taken from the builders’ listings. This is a clear case of copyright infringement.

I dropped her broker an email letting him know about the situation.

I started to dig around and easily found another broker doing the same thing. I’ll email him in the morning. 

If they don’t take the “listings” down, I plan on going the distance with an ethics complaint.

I wonder how widespread this is?

Ms. Buyer, We Rejected Your Offer On Our House-It’s Okay Because We’re Not Going to Give It Away

Counterpoint to Cindy Jones’ blog titled, “Mr. Seller You Didn’t Accept Our Offer On Your House-It’s Okay We’re Not Heartbroken


Dear Ms. Buyer,

You made an offer on our property.  The offer was nowhere near our asking price.  We have a great listing agent and our list price is actually below the median sales price in the neighborhood.  We understand that we have not done some of the upgrades that a few of the other sales have made and we factored that into our list price.

We were not sure how you arrived at your offer so we had our agent talk to your agent.  While there are 12 comparable sales in the neighborhood, your agent pulled the two lowest sales (foreclosures) and averaged them to arrive at her estimate of market value.  You then offered ten percent less and asked us to pay all your closing costs plus leave the media equipment.

Our agent talked to your agent but she held her ground that her estimate of market value was correct. We eventually decided that this was going to be a waste of time so we rejected your offer.

The nice thing is our home is paid for and while we would really like to sell; this is not a distressed sale situation. If you’re bargain hunting, please move on down the line and find another property. There are some short sales and foreclosures from the down-line builder available in the neighborhood. We understand that you are relocating from an area where properties are selling for 50 percent of what they did a few years ago, but that’s not the case here. 

We wish you the best of luck in your home search and hope you find that bargain you’re looking for.

PS – This is a true story.  We sold the property a couple of weeks later very close to list price.


The Gulf War – 20 Years Later

I opened my mailbox the other day and saw an envelope marked, “Gulf War Review – Information for Veterans who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”

My mind flashed back. I was a 30 year old First Sergeant from Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas being sent to support another wing that was deployed.  Rather than a huge troop transport loaded with people, there were two of us (plus the aircrew) flying in a KC-135. The KC-135 is a tanker used to refuel other aircraft, but we were hauling cargo into the classified location.  After flying for 26 hours and half-way around the world, I remember walking off the aircraft onto the tarmac–what a strange mixture of apprehension and excitement.

Our wing was one of the few to lose an aircraft and three of her six crewmembers. I remember attending a non-denominational gathering to remember those we lost and to give thanks for the three who were saved.  I can still see it in my mind’s eye.  It was a bright, sunny morning. The air was calm, it was quiet, and there wasn’t a breeze.  It was eerie, almost like nature knew we were mourning the loss of friends and fellow airmen. As the third name of the deceased was read, the breeze picked up and three little birds flew into the large tent where we were gathered.  The crowd noticed and a low murmur broke out.  It was like our friends had new wings and had come to let us know they were okay.  We left that gathering with a renewed spirit.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years this August.  I opened the envelope and found a poster honoring Gulf War Veterans along with an 11-page newsletter primarily dealing with the 12 major health issues faced by Gulf War veterans and what the Veterans Administration was trying to do about them. I consider myself among the lucky-alive and healthy.


Are You Show-Ready?

Are You Show-Ready?

We were out showing homes and began wondering why so many occupied homes are not properly prepared for showings. The sellers knew we were going to show their home several hours in advance and yet most of them were not “show-ready” when we arrived.

What is “show-ready”? Here’s a little background before we answer the question.

Homes sell on either emotion or price. Homes that create emotion with buyers sell faster and at a higher price. Many sellers hire a professional stager to help create that warm and inviting atmosphere. While professional staging is a great idea, we’ve seen staged homes that would look even better if they were “show-ready.”

Most sellers know in advance that their home will be showing. When you get that call, it’s almost show time! Have a plan of action to get your home in show-ready shape:

• Open all the blinds and turn on all the lights including the garage and walk-in attic. Homes that are light and bright appear larger and more inviting. If you have ceiling fans, turn them all on low.

• Have some soft music playing. If you have a media room, leave a movie playing with the sound turned down low.

• Scents are important to creating emotion. In years past, we would leave a drop of vanilla on a light bulb. When the agent turned on the light, the heat would release the vanilla fragrance into the air. Times have changed and now we can simply purchase small air fresheners. While some fragrance is good, too much can be overpowering. If you can, burn a candle until you have to leave. Candles often smell more natural than the artificial air fresheners.

• If you have time, run the vacuum cleaner over the carpets. Buyers notice when the carpets look like nobody has walked on them.

• While you may love your pets, many people are afraid of them and they often get in the way. Taking your pet with you during the showing is the best idea. Some dogs are crate-trained and sit quietly in their crate. However, there’s nothing more annoying than listening to a dog bark the whole time you’re viewing a home.

• Don’t be there when the agent and buyers arrive. It’s awkward and makes the buyers uncomfortable. Buyers want to be able to peek into closets and kitchen cabinets. They want to be able to discuss what they like and don’t like with their agent and each other. If you’re there, it will be a short showing! Leave the selling to the agent.

Many sellers assume the showing agent will arrive ahead of time to get the home show-ready. If I’m only showing one home, I often arrive early and get the lights on. However, if I’m showing 10 homes, I have the buyers with me and we both walk in at the same time for that important first impresion.

Buyers decide in the first 60 seconds if they like the home. Get your home show-ready and make the most of that minute!



Summer Showing Activity Finally Picks Up

I was interviewed by CBS 11 last week as part of a story on the recent decline in the real estate market.  While part of it is cyclical, I believe that some of it is a rebound effect from the Federal Tax Credit which ended in April 2010.  The tax credit created a lot of activity but I argue most of it was accelerated buying rather than new buyers entering the market.  I dubbed it, “Cash for Clunkers Comes to the Housing Market.” 

For the past couple of weeks, there has been an increase in website hits and inquiries, but it had yet to translate into showings.  After several weeks of little showing activity and despite temperatures over 100 degrees, we finally started to see some life come back into the local real estate market.

With interest rates at historical lows this may be the best time to purchase a home as either a primary residence or as an income producing investment. The “perfect storm” of low prices and low interest rates will not last forever any more than the crazy run-up in prices and lax mortgage lending practices that took us here.

Photo Credit – Tom Branch


How Much Are You Worth?

How Much Are You Worth?

You are in business for yourself. That is, you may own your own business, or you may be associated with another company as an employee, a partner or an independent contractor. Your working agreement or arrangement doesn’t really matter.
The important thing to realize is that no matter what the arrangement or situation you presently find yourself in, you are really working for yourself. If you work by commission, for example, the sales you make are not only putting dollars in your employer’s pocket, they are putting dollars into your own pocket as well. The more you sell, the more you make.
Just consider yourself as a business that prospers or falters financially by the amount of commission dollars you generate. The point is, even though you may be working for, or are associated with another company, you are really working for yourself to increase the amount of money you earn for you.

Three Keys for Success

It’s important to realize that your success in whatever you do in business, or in life for that matter, will always be determined by three things:

1. The need or demand for what you do,
2. Your ability to do it, and
3. The difficulty in replacing you.

In other words, how valuable are you and the service you perform to other people? To illustrate this point, let’s apply our three step formula to the job of an elevator operator. In today’s world of push¬button, self operated elevators, how much need is there for the job he or she performs?
Most people are quite capable of operating an elevator themselves. It doesn’t take much knowledge or training, so an operator can be replaced without much difficulty. As a result, elevator operators, if you can even find one, are not paid much.

Now, contrast the elevator operator and the money he or she commands with that of a professional major league baseball player. Specifically a player that is good at batting.
What is the need for what they do? A look at attendance figures for baseball games will show that more than just a few fans are interested in watching what they do. So the need obviously is great.
How about the batter’s ability to do what he does? Sports analysts say that the action of hitting a ball moving toward you at over 90 miles per hour is the single most difficult movement in sports.
In the game of basketball, the target (the hoop) doesn’t move. Same in golf. While the ball moves, the hole, or goal, remains stationary. In football, there are 11 teammates all with a common goal of advancing the ball. But in baseball, it’s the batter alone trying to hit a small, 90 mph target with his bat. So it stands to reason then that the better or more often a batter can hit the ball, the more he or she will be compensated.
Now, what about the difficulty in replacing a good batter? When only the best in the world can hit the target less than a third of the time, and most of the other players are successful far less than that, it doesn’t take long to realize why the best batters are among the highest money¬makers in the world.

Obtaining Superior Rewards

Now how about you? It’s been said that you can tell how professional a person is by the size of their income at the end of the year.
And you can tell exactly how valuable the service you perform is by how much people are willing to pay you for it. If you do the same job that everybody else does, and do it no better than the way they do it, you can’t expect to earn more money or be considered any more valuable than those other people.
You see, the market, by nature, will pay superior rewards only for superior goods and services. It will pay average rewards for average goods and services, and it will see that inferior rewards are paid for inferior goods and services.
In other words, you will be rewarded in direct proportion to the value you provide your customers. It’s inescapable. That’s the law of nature.
Now, if the products and services you sell or provide are similar in coverage and price to everyone else’s (and most of them are), then the difference between you and other people in your position has to be in the type and amount of personal service you provide your customers and clients.
This then has to be the area you excel in – it becomes your competitive edge.