Donald Trump once said: “It's tangible, it's solid, it's beautiful. It's artistic, from my standpoint, and I just love real estate.”?It’s true that they aren’t going to be making any more of it, and anytime is a great time to buy. But as with all things in the world of commerce, ways of conducting real estate business have changed.

No one knows that better than local real estate broker and owner of Brooks Real Estate, Tom Brooks.

Brooks Real Estate is the oldest agency in Erath County, and was founded in 1957 by Tom’s father, Edd.

Tom was only 6 when the family moved to Stephenville from Cransfils Gap where Edd sold real estate and ran a ranch. Tom remembers there were a couple of other agencies in Stephenville at the time, but they have since shut down business.

It didn’t take long for Edd’s new agency to expand, and in time an adult Tom was added to the team.

“I joined full time in 1973, and took over in ’78,” he said.

Tom took a moment to share with the E-T the new direction selling real estate has taken since his agency’s inception.

“I didn’t realize the changes until I sat down and reflected on it all. And the changes have been phenomenal,” he said.

Tom said a person’s reason for purchasing real estate is one major change.

“When Dad started, the market was based on income production. You wanted the property to produce income and pay for itself. Now it’s for leisure and recreation, like property for hunting or fishing.”

Tom also points to the launching of the Internet as being pivotal to the many changes in real estate transactions.

He remembers an era when things were handled differently, specifically in the introduction of a property to a prospective buyer, but computers have helped streamline that process.

“Online technology has really helped both the realtor and the buyer,” Tom said. “It especially helps in acreage and ranch sales, where we might be traveling long distances to preview properties.

“With aerial photos, online topo maps, 3 D mapping, videos and even satellite images, a client can eliminate a lot of places that he would have previewed in person before. This saves a lot of time and resources for both the client and the realtor.

“The same principle applies with residential and commercial,” he added. “Sometimes they will locate a property online and then contact us to preview the property. Other times they might contact us, describing what they want. Then we can send them online information to determine if they want to preview the property.”

There have been changes in how a real estate sale is finalized and documented as well.

“The first transaction I closed in real estate, I wrote out the closing statement on notebook paper, took the papers over to the courthouse and filed them. Now everything is closed at an attorney’s office and the title company,” he said. “You used to have an abstract of title history of a piece of property and its origin. Now you get title insurance to ensure the title to the property.

“Another major change is the convenience factor, the time frame. We can do in a few days what used to take weeks. Now we have faxes and the internet; but back then we had to conduct everything through mail carriers. What would take us 4 to 6 weeks we can do in 6 days now,” Tom said.

In the late 1950s, E-T’s precursor, the Empire, wrote a profile of Edd and credited him with sharing some solid advice that is still the cornerstone of the Brooks enterprise today.

“Never fail to be nice to people; they’ll pay you back,” was the senior Brooks’ motto.

It is no doubt this philosophy has led to the success of Brooks Real Estate. Good business practices develop good reputations.

The article reported Edd as saying many customers who came seeking his service as a real estate agent would tell him, “Mr. So-and-So sent me.”

Tom finds that even in the digital age, this is still true.

“Word of mouth is still important. Customers come back time and again. They send their friends as referrals,” he said.

Proof positive there are some things that never change.