Business partnership: Realtors, friends become real estate leaders

🕐 5 min read

Burt Ladner Real Estate

Village at Camp Bowie

6115 Camp Bowie Blvd.

Suite 240

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Fort Worth 76116


It is often said that in business, timing is everything. Perhaps no one can attest to that more than Suzanne Burt and Laura Ladner.

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The two long-time friends and veteran Realtors decided several years ago that they were ready to give up working for others and form their own independent real estate firm.

So in the summer of 2013, they launched Burt-Ladner Real Estate. Their timing was impeccable.

“We started the year the housing market took off,” Ladner said. “We feel that we have been blessed in a very big way.”

Five years later, the two women have made their mark. Not only have they realized their dream of owning a real estate agency in an era of increasing consolidation and corporate ownership, they have also achieved overwhelming success riding the crest of one of the hottest home-buying booms in recent Texas history.

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“Our timing was perfect for introducing a new real estate company,” Ladner said.

Between them, the women had more than 40 years of experience selling real estate. They worked at a variety of real estate firms such as William Rigg, Coldwell Banker and Williams Trew.

And they watched warily as changes occurred in the real estate industry.

“Everyone was going corporate,” Burt said. “We felt the need for a boutique-type, independent real estate company.”

The decision to open their firm in a good market, combined with low interest rates, has produced “incredible success,” said Ladner.

Burt-Ladner, which some mistakenly assume is a company owned by a man named Burt Ladner, now has more than 40 agents and is rapidly outgrowing its office space in the Village at Camp Bowie.

The firm has made sales in more than 61 ZIP codes across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and its sales span the gamut from single-family urban and rural homes to lakefront and farm and ranch properties.

“We’ve even sold some commercial properties for some of our clients,” Ladner said.

Neither woman is a native of Fort Worth but both have lived in the area for a long time. Both married men from Fort Worth and settled in the area.

Ironically, it was their husbands who introduced them to each other. Their husbands had met through business.

Ladner’s husband, Dale, is president of Omni Group Ltd., a commercial real estate development firm. Burt’s husband, Tommy, is also involved in real estate and now works with Burt-Ladner in farm and ranch sales.

Neither of the women’s husbands has any ownership in their company.

“We are strictly women-owned,” Ladner said.

Neither Burt nor Ladner started her career with the intention of selling real estate or owning a real estate firm.

Ladner began working at a mortgage bank and gradually transitioned into real estate in the mid-1980s.

After graduating from Southwest Texas State University — now Texas State University — Burt worked for a firm that operated college bookstores. That job brought her to Fort Worth in the 1990s.

Once the two women got to know each other, Ladner told Burt that she should consider getting into real estate.

“She said, ‘I think you would be good at it,’ ” Burt said. “Laura convinced me I could do this and here I am.”

The two worked as partners at other agencies over the years. Ladner took time off to raise her twins but Burt, now a grandmother, continued working while raising her son.

Ladner’s children are now grown but neither are married or even in long-term relationships.

“I want grandchildren really badly but I am not even close,” she said.

Burt and Ladner’s approach to selling real estate relies heavily on social media and marketing. Instead of requiring agents to pay for their own advertisements, the firm absorbs those costs as a perk to agents and to help establish a cohesive brand for the firm.

At the center is a vision of “selling a lifestyle” rather than just a house.

“We ask our clients to give us a wish list of the lifestyle they want and how they see themselves living,” Burt said. From those wish lists, the women and their agents can pinpoint neighborhoods that would suit the clients’ needs.

“It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together,” Burt said.

As part of their emphasis on “selling a lifestyle,” Burt-Ladner operates a website called “Selling the Fort” ( It continues a blog that covers everything from getting to know Burt-Ladner agents to tidbits about coming charity events, home tours, interesting spots for weekend getaways, popular local restaurants and hidden treasures for shopping for unique furniture and décor.

The women say this approach is part of the personal touch, which is the hallmark of their firm. Being their own firm instead of part of a corporate conglomerate helps streamline decision-making and saves clients and agents time, and sometimes money.

“We don’t have to go to a committee or to someone in New York to make a decision,” Ladner said. “If someone needs help, they can walk into our offices and ask for it.”

Although the DFW residential real estate market is showing signs of cooling, Ladner and Burt say there is plenty of evidence that demand will remain strong.

Yes, interest rates are rising, buyers are pushing back against historically high prices, and inventory is tight, especially for moderately priced homes.

“We’re still seeing multiple offers for affordable homes,” Burt said. “It’s still normal in certain price ranges for buyers to make two to three offers” before winning a bid.

“We tell buyers, especially first-time buyers, that they have to be prepared to move quickly if they see something they like,” Ladner said.

Even if the market continues to cool, the women aren’t concerned that it will take a deep dive.

“We’re living in a bubble,” Ladner said. “Fort Worth’s population is expected to increase 85 percent by 2040. That’s a lot of people who will need somewhere to live.”

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