Kessler Woods is one of those neighborhoods that makes your heart beat just a little faster. A gated community of modern homes set into a hillside, right next to a nature preserve is not what you expect to find in Dallas. And we seldom expect to find homes like this one at 715 Kessler Woods Trail for sale, so you are in luck! Our Inwood Home of the Week is a Kessler Woods contemporary that is an architectural dream. (more…)

Oooh, this one is different. Today’s Saturday Eight Hundred is far more ornate than my usual picks, and it just barely makes it into the $800,000 block. But I dig it in its crazy ornate madness. There’s so much for my imagination to run wild with! With Swarovski crystal chandeliers aplenty and gleaming marble floors, 17183 Club Hill Drive definitely brings the bling. And this French Normandy-inspired home backs up to Bent Tree Golf Course, so the views aren’t half bad, either.

With three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms in nearly 5,500 square feet, this Far North Dallas home is also roomy, to say the least. It’s downright enormous. Speaking of, have you seen your family this week? No worries. Your spouse is hanging out in the wine cellar and the kids are in the pool. You might as well fix yourself a snack in the gourmet kitchen and run a hot bath in the jetted tub. The others can fend for themselves. This week’s pick is listed by Re/Max’s Michael Gaule for $899,500. Join us after the jump for some soaring ceilings and a whole lot of crystal.

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EZ Stow Signs

Conventional real estate signs are a necessary and familiar accessory for real estate agents. But they’re also kind of a pain. They’re big and bulky and don’t easily fit in most car trunks. The stakes can damage a car’s interior upholstery and seating. They’re dirty and muddy, and many agents have to pay someone to install and remove them.

Longtime North Texas Realtor Patricia Manos wanted an easier way to market her properties. She came up with the idea of EZ Stow Signs. They solve many of these common complaints agents have about lawn signs.

“I’ve put up with conventional signs for 37 years and I never found a good solution— my car is a vital asset to support my success, but it seems that every time I wanted to buy a new car, one of the issues I had to consider is the transporting of the signs,” Manos said. “So I, along with the help of my family and some great engineers in Ohio, came up with the solution, and that is when EZ Stow Signs was born.”

This Dallas-based, family-run company is aiming not only to make their products popular in DFW, but also to take their signs national.

“We have created relationships with Keller Williams, Fathom Realty, and ReMax, and I’m sponsoring prep courses at the Champions School of Real Estate,” said Robert Spragins, sales manager for EZ Stow Signs and Manos’ son who has taken his mom’s idea and launched a business. “We’re also attending the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando in November — we’re renting a booth there to get national exposure, and we’re also attending area trade shows and will be adding more sizes to our product line.”

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first-time homebuyer

According to Zillow, 40 percent of first-time homebuyers are married now, compared to 52 percent two decades ago.

Who needs a spouse to buy a first house? Not too many folks anymore.

According to new research from Zillow, only 40 percent of first-time homebuyers are married today, down from 52 percent in the late ’80s.

Why is this? First, fewer people are getting married in general. Barely half of adults (51 percent) were married in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, compared with 72 percent in 1960. Marriage increasingly is being replaced by cohabitation, single-person households, and other living arrangements (mom and dad’s house!).

They’re also waiting longer to get married—the median age for first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men back in 1960, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

This real estate trend is showing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. One example: ReMax Realtor Ken Lampton says he has a lot of unmarried professional women buying in the Lakewood and Lower Greenville areas of Dallas.

“They don’t have children, so schools aren’t a concern, and they are willing to buy a smaller house in order to be closer to downtown Dallas,” Lampton said.

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CandysDirt_Profile

He’s lived in the M Streets for 30 years, so of course Ken Lampton has a home on the Internet at MStreets.com. He also shares his unvarnished opinions on his blog, where you can find out more about Lampton’s adventures in this sought-after neighborhood, as well as the challenges it faces when it comes to redevelopment and preservation. He’s a meticulous, detail-oriented Realtor with an engineer’s brain who loves historic homes and has a hat collection that would stir the envy of any Southern girl. It’s kind of his thing!

For all of those reasons (and many more!) RE/MAX DFW Associates Realtor Ken Lampton is our Great Western Home Loans Featured Realtor this week. He’s got personality, determination, and serves his clients with expert knowledge and patience. He reminds us a lot of Jeff Lindigrin of Great Western Home Loans, now that we mention it! What has your lender done for you lately? See what you’re missing by calling Jeff Lindigrin of Great Western Home Loans today.

And now jump to find out more about this treasure of a Realtor, Ken Lampton!

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NRT's new portals, acquisitions, may position the brokerage to out flank competition.

NRT’s new portals, acquisitions, may position the brokerage to out flank competition.

It’s a much different model than Zillow/Trulia, but NRT/Realogy will be on pace to not only capture more leads than Zillow, but it has boots-on-the-ground Realtors who can complete sales. This one-two punch is part of NRT’s strategy to “out flank” Zillow, positioning the brokerage as an online and in-person real estate powerhouse, according to Inman News:

“The nation’s largest real estate brokerage, NRT LLC, is preparing to launch two new search portals that are aimed at reducing the company’s reliance on leads from Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, attracting homebuyers by offering access to a complete set of MLS listings in markets where NRT operates, plus bells and whistles like automated valuations.

NRT, the brokerage wing of real estate titan Realogy, has over 42,000 agents and operates more than 700 offices in the U.S. under the Coldwell Banker Real Estate, ERA Real Estate, and Sotheby’s International Realty brands. It also owns and operates Citi Habitats, The Corcoran Group and, when the acquisition closes sometime this quarter, ZipRealty.”

 

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Laurie MahI have known Laurie Mah forever, and now I will get to see way more of her! Laurie has left the Greenville Ave. office of ReMax and joined the Ben Jones Group at Allie Beth Allman & Associates. I can hardly wait to give her a glass of wine and get her going on homes in Ennis and Corsicana… just getting my fingertips warmed up!

Coming up soon: an exquisite horse property you won’t want to miss from that neck of the woods…

The Branch Team was recently named as Top Residential Real Estate Producers in Dallas by D Magazine. The dynamic duo of Tom and Gina Branch were recognized for closing more than $15 million in sales in 2011. Tom and Gina go way back to DallasDirt days with Candy.  We chatted recently with Tom Branch for updates and to find out more about their special approach to real estate sales.

CD: Where are you two lovebirds from? 

Tom: I was a military brat born in Paris, France. I’ve been on the move pretty much ever since including 21 years of military service before I left. Gina is a native from South Texas. She left the state briefly for a job in Tennessee and came back as soon as she could. We love Texas and have no plans to leave.

CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?

Tom: We live in the far North Plano neighborhood of Ridgeview Ranch which is a master planned golf community.

CD: Cool! And you drive a… let me guess, a hybrid Mercedes Benz???

Tom: Nope! We have two cars – a smart car that is wrapped in our advertising and a Volvo S60. The smart car makes people smile when we drive up. We had one of the very first in the Dallas area and it was an immediate hit. People come over to look at the car all the time. We’ve found it to be a powerful and fun marketing tool for our business.

CD: What’s your favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?

Tom: It is hard to pick a favorite. Of course we love Ridgeview Ranch, but we’re also big fans of Stonebridge Ranch in McKinney, Twin Creeks and Fall Creek neighborhoods in Allen. There’s so much going on in these neighborhoods and they are growing like crazy.

CD: If you could live anywhere else in the Metroplex, where would it be?

Tom: After our kids are gone to college, it would be fun to try high- rise living in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas. There’s a new and exciting vibrancy to the downtown area and it would be great to walk to restaurants, shopping, movies and cultural events.

CD: How the heck did you get started in Real Estate?

Tom: After I retired from the military, I knew I wanted to use the sales skills I’d developed as a recruiter. I spent time in the hospitality industry working with Hilton Hotels. I realized that the key to success for Hilton and other great hotel chains is to provide a consistency of experience for the customer. Travelers appreciate the service they get and they know what to expect so they choose Hilton hotels again and again. Hilton carefully manages its brand and performs consistently.

I took these principles forward with me when I decided to go into business for myself. I got into residential real estate through a friend who had an independent agency in Allen. In 2005, we launched Realty Revolution LLC and grew it quickly to 35 agents. For the next four years we specialized in short sales. We even wrote a book about it for our customers called Avoiding Foreclosure – The Field Guide to Short Sales.  In 2009, Gina and I sensed a shift in the industry. We wanted to get out of management and back to selling so we joined RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs. Our production tripled that first year.

We sensed a change was coming again in 2010 and that our market was rebounding which is when we re-focused to more traditional sales. Short-sales are only about 10% of our business today.

CD: What was your best/highest sale?

Tom:  We don’t measure our success in terms of commissions earned. One of our most memorable sales was an older lady who was displaced during Katrina.  She was 76 years old and we helped her purchase her first home. It was a wonderful experience and we became good friends.

CD: What was your hardest sale?

Tom: I don’t have one particular sale that stands out as the “hardest” or “worst,” but I will say that during our days of short sales we learned that the smaller the transaction, the harder it seemed to be. It not only took just as much work as a large transaction, we often had double the trouble with the bank to get it done.

CD: How quickly have you ever turned a house?

Tom: We’ve gone from listing to closing in 8 days – especially recently with the furious rate of sales going on up here in Collin County.

CD: How much did you sell last year?

Tom: Last year we sold around $15 million. This year we are on track for $18 million. I always find answers to questions like that misleading. What is really meaningful to most small business owners – and other realtors – is how much of that did we keep? Gina and I set up our business practices consistently – just like Hilton – from a customer perspective, and efficiently from a business perspective. So many people get into real estate looking to make commissions without a real understanding of how a business works and how they can keep more of what they make. We wrote a business book about it called Achieving Rock Star Status.

CD: Just the two of you? Wow. What are your secrets to marketing a house?

Tom: We’re planning to hire an assistant in 2013, it is getting to be a lot! Selling a house is a beauty contest. We prepare our sellers and don’t put the house on the market until it is 100% ready. We hire a professional to stage their home and a professional to photograph it. We teach our sellers how to show their own homes because we recognize that people will stop by unexpectedly or that we won’t be there before the prospective buyer shows up. It is small stuff like “turn on all the lights before you leave,” but it makes a difference. By the time a home is listed, it is completely ready to be viewed which is good because many buyers won’t wait even a day for the open house if they’re interested in a house. Our sellers’ homes look terrific and sell fast.

We are sophisticated users of the Internet, especially CandysDirt.com,  and make sure our homes with their beautiful pictures show up everywhere a buyer might look to conduct research, too.

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…

Tom: Be a photographer. Gina would love to be a full-time author.

CD: Not like Paula Broadwell, we hope. Where is your second home?

Tom: We have a condo in Las Vegas which we enjoy a lot. The only reason we can afford to keep going there for vacations is because we budget our gambling money and stop when it is gone. We’re thinking about something on the water for our next vacation home.

CD: Oh boy, I know you’ll have Candy knocking on that door!