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david angiulo"It's important for us as agents to focus on the current benefits of buying a home," says Seattle CB Bain Broker David Angiulo. The fact is that more opportunities are available now to first time home buyers than in the recent past. When the market velocity was so high it was harder for buyers who didn't have big down payments or much risk tolerance to compete with aggressive buyers who had more cash on hand.  But as David says, "We're getting closer to balance in the market," where first time home buyers have a greater likelihood of prevailing in competitive situations.

First time home buyers have more negotiating room now than they had during the last few years.  Sellers are more receptive to negotiating contingencies. Some are even willing to pay for a rate buy down at closing, a move that can lower the buyer's interest rate and make monthly payments more affordable. "We're starting to see the rate buy down negotiated more frequently now as interest rates creep up," says David. Even prices are negotiable.

In the recent past, mortgage rates were lower, and on paper that house cost less money.

But the buyer couldn't buy it, because someone else would present a stronger offer.  Now there's a higher likelihood that first time home buyers can enter the market. They can at least secure a property and refinance in the future when rates change.  It might cost more every month, but there's still the opportunity to buy.

When first time home buyers are seeking pre-approval to qualify for a loan, it's important to steer them toward reputable local lenders who can explain the financing process.  Some lenders can offer down payments as low as 3%. With lower down payments, a first time home buyer may be more likely to prevail in their offer these days. It's true that buyers who were on the fringe of qualifying in the past might not quality now for the same purchase price. Or if they do qualify, they may not be comfortable with the monthly payment. But they can likely qualify for a lower purchase price.

David says he's also seeing more opportunity in the types of available housing across the market.  For example, zoning changes are allowing new styles of property development in the Seattle metro area. Builders can now buy single family lots and add smaller attached and detached units on the same lot.  Those new configurations are being sold as smaller, more affordable condo units.

Home prices are drifting downward slightly as well, on a traditional seasonal basis. "Prices always go down over the course of a year, dropping slightly at summer's end to blip up in early fall then coast down until spring," he says. "It's not unusual for prices to drop this time of year."

David stresses that the agent's duty with first time home buyers is to educate them about the process, but otherwise it's not much different from serving any other client. David's most vigorous advice is "Don't be afraid to write the offer. Agents aren't used to including contingencies and writing offers below the asking price."  It's important to remember that it's an offer. If the seller refuses, it might cost some time, but it can start a dialogue that could eventually get the seller to a 'yes.' "And it's guaranteed there will be no dialogue if you don't write the offer."

There's no denying that buying a first home is harder than it used to be but "just as important," says David. "Working with a knowledgeable agent who can educate and empower the buyer to make informed decisions for their future and make sense of the information they're getting in the process must absolutely be beneficial. The buyer benefits in the end from working with a highly qualified professional who can empower them to make the best decisions as they navigate this shifting market."

He advocates communicating with colleagues every day to develop strong relationships and take advantage of resources provided by Coldwell Banker Bain. "We're in a unique position to help our clients. Sharing our collective knowledge means my client is getting the benefit of 100 different brains instead of just mine."


rachael podolskyAfter a brief hiatus from Coldwell Banker Bain, Bellevue Way agent Rachael Podolsky returned exclaiming "I'll never leave. I've been made to feel so good about being here." Rachael declares she's happy to pay some of her commission to 'the house' to get the great marketing, contracting and overall business support that comes with being a Coldwell Banker Bain agent.

Rachael started her real estate career in 2015 at a small, start-up agency. There she enjoyed the sense of family inherent in a small office.  But she had to learn the business on her own, through experience. "I got started sort of blindly. I wish I'd had the Coldwell start up package. I had to learn everything the hard way."

When that small business was acquired, she joined the Lincoln Square Global Luxury Coldwell Banker office and was delighted to find the training classes and marketing support provided for new agents.  Rachael believes strongly in the educational support Coldwell offers, "An agent's success rate is so much higher with that kind of educational opportunity always there for you as a foundation." 

In her current position, Rachael is known as a luxury property specialist. She modestly claims, "I've been fortunate to fall into the luxury category, because my two big mentors when I started in the business were luxury specialists." Rachael has eagerly worked with a coach to develop her skills. "Coaching has been critical to my success. The first year I hired my coach my business grew 600%."  That's a recommendation that would be hard to refute. Despite the changed market Rachael is having her biggest year ever.

Coldwell Banker Bain offers a variety of coaches among its expert brokers nationwide and Rachael encourages agents to dip into that treasure trove of guidance.  "I work because it's fun. And I work because I have three kids to put through college and I want to leave them something when I go. That's what drives me. It helps to have a coach reminding you why you're doing what you're doing every day."

With her coach's guidance, Rachael is amplifying her business with investment property sales.  She's sending daily CMAs to her luxury clients to let them know how they can use their equity. "People in the luxury categories have extra cash and they don't want to put it into the stock market, so we're talking to them about building more wealth via real estate."

rachael mariaThat kind of out-of-the-box thinking is a large part of Rachael's success. But she says her secret sauce is that "I really love selling real estate. It's about the interactions that I have with our clients and other brokers. I'm a people person and for me this is a dream job because I'm interacting with people all day long.  My clients call and I'm thrilled to talk to them." Every client is more of a friend to Rachael.  She doesn't treat deals as simple business transactions with a commission attached.  "It's more important to me to know that my name is on that sign and I'm going to go above and beyond to make sure these people – buyers or sellers – are really comfortable with me and know that they have access to our team all the time."
With the help of her longtime assistant Maria, Rachael works to offer white glove service.  Maria takes care of some of the nuts and bolts work that needs to get done, so she can be client focused.  Rachael claims that allows them to offer a higher level of client service.  "My business is becoming so much about referrals. The relationship continues after the close. We take our clients to dinner, visit with them a lot. It's just an extension of my friend group."

Rachael has been a single mom since 2015 and using her experiences to produce a vlog called "ReelTime with Rachael." This year, ReelTime with Rachael will morph into a PODcast (as in PODolsky) titled "Real Time with Rachael."  Topics will run the gamut from love to finances, to how to build generational wealth as a single mother, how your friendships change with age, facing the empty nest, working as a single woman in her 50s, and more. With three 20-something kids and a busy career, Rachael says she sees no end to potential topics.  "I will talk about real estate some of the time, but my life and the industry provide endless material."

For Rachael Podolsky, the real estate business cannot be separated from 'life,' and that awareness feeds both her professional success and her creative spirit.

rachael team


chad estesFor Chad Estes, success is about relationships. And in 2022, he even worked on his relationship with himself.  To the question "How do you manage your time?" he answers, "I block my time a lot.  And this year I've tried to add more 'me time.'"  He's spending more time at the gym and scheduling quiet time for himself. He's earned it.

Over the years in Portland, Chad and his partner Rey have fostered four children. When those children went back to their homes, Chad became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for children in his community. Every child in the Oregon foster system is entitled to a CASA advocate and the need is great.  Only one child in ten has a CASA advocate assigned to them and, as Chad puts it, "It's a challenging program. You interact with the child a lot, but it's required that you remain objective. You submit a monthly report to the judge about the child's needs, not necessarily their wants."

Chad and Rey became involved with a local elementary school through their foster children and for numerous years before COVID they hosted a major July 4th fund raiser for the school.  "It became a big deal," Chad says.  "We had ponies, face-painters, everything we could think of to make it fun.  And we raised thousands of dollars for the school to provide supplies for the kids who needed them."  That felt good, he says, and he applies that feel good attitude to his work as a realtor.

When he's working with a buyer, Chad does everything he can to assure they're getting what they need.  "Even if they've fallen in love with a nightmare property," he says, "I'm going to make sure they know what they're getting into and try to steer them toward a property that will work for them." Chad is in it for the long haul, and that's where his approach works best. "I'm casual; I'm relaxed. I don't want to turn and burn. I want to know all about the property, so I can help my client get what they need." 

"Most of my work is from repeat clients," he says. That, he asserts, is because he doesn't just sell them a house; he stays with them.  Every client is individual, and Chad takes the time to get to know them.  When he sees something he knows a client would like to have, he gets it for them.  "One year, I dropped off a deicer at 100 clients' doors before a storm and strapped my card onto the bags."  His partner works at a nearby hospital, and Chad delivers cupcakes there once a month.  "I do these things because I want to be nice, and I get leads at the same time."

His advice to agents, new or established, is "Don't overspend on marketing and advertising. Just be authentic, participate in your community, and the leads come in."  He says he'd rather spend $800 on gifts and cards for his clients than on advertising. It took Chad a couple of years to build his network. Then, he says 'the ball started rolling on its own.'

His strategies clearly work. Chad's industry awards include National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals Top Agent In the United States and the only one in Oregon. Top Agent in Oregon overall. Coldwell Banker International President's Club Elite Member 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. (Top 5% internationally. Roughly 94,000 agents in 2019). Naglrep Top agent 2019. Realtrends Oregon's Top agents list: 2017, 2018, 2019

Navy Federal Credit Union preferred Broker. Coldwell Banker Luxury Property Specialist.Cartus Certified Relocation agent.

Chad admits his methods require extra effort.  "I have a database of over 1,500 birthdays and anniversaries and I send out handwritten holiday cards to my clients every year."  It pays off.  And it's all about cultivating genuine relationships.  


After several years in LA and Ventura County, Southern California native Tarice Fairhurst took an impulsive trip to Seattle, and says she knew the minute her plane landed at Sea-Tac that this was the place for her. Ironically, even this summer, she claims she came to the Pacific Northwest to beat the California heat.

As a refugee from 12-hour workdays in retail, Tarice chose to pivot into real estate when she arrived here in 2019 – bought the courses and everything. Then the pandemic hit, so she took advantage of the shutdown to study for her exams and network with other realtors. The intel she got in her networking efforts pointed to Seattle CB Bain broker Cyrus Fiene as the perfect mentor. With Cyrus as a resource and CB Bain's excellent training package, Tarice joined the team, and she's never looked back. "It was absolutely the right decision to join Cyrus and Coldwell Banker Bain," she says.

It's safe to say every day is a Dog Day for Tarice, whatever the time of year. She grew up with three big dogs in her home and has sustained that passion. She couldn't have a dog in her California apartment, so she volunteered for two years at the Ventura County Animal Shelter where she cleaned the kennels, fed the dogs, and fed her love for canines at the same time. In search of a new volunteer opportunity here, Tarice started spending time at the Forever Home Dog Rescue in Edmonds in November 2019, where she began with dog walking.

"I asked them to give me the big ones that no one wants to walk, the ones that pull you," she says. Tarice taught herself how to handle the big dogs; she did some training as she walked the dogs and gave them 'a decompression experience' away from the kennels. Soon, she was working adoption events lining up potential new adopters. Then she started fostering dogs.

When she worked long hours in retail, Tarice couldn't have a dog of her own. Now, her time is flexible, and she's been able to bring Benny – a boxer mix puppy – into her life. Though Benny started as a foster, it was love after three days and a quick adoption. Now she calls this calm youngster her "shadow" because he follows her everywhere.

That love for pets has given Tarice a sort of specialty in her real estate work. She knows what pet owners want in a home, and very often they're looking for a place specifically suited to their dog. "There are," she notes, "more dogs than kids per capita in Seattle," and that gives her an edge.

Indeed, a 2021 Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report notes that pet owners are 7% more likely than those without pets to buy a house with more than 3,000 square feet. In 2021, 36% of buyers who own a pet chose homes with four-plus bedrooms. Just 24% of non-pet owning buyers purchased homes that large.

Tarice gets it, and she connects with pet owners. "What people look for is a big fenced in yard that's dog friendly." They want a place under the stairs that can be tailored for a little pet retreat. Pet washing stations in mudrooms are popular. Pet owners are looking for properties that can be recalibrated for their pets. If they can't walk their dogs around a neighborhood, it's a deal breaker.

That Zillow report also showed that 73% percent of survey respondents with pets ranked private outdoor space as "extremely important," compared to the 65% of respondents without pets. It's reasonable to conclude that with the dramatic increase in pet acquisition during the pandemic, so too has the sale of larger homes. It's an equation that Tarice Fairhurst has applied to her success with Coldwell Banker Bain.


Despite media "gloom and doom" over the hike in interest rates cooling our over-heated PNW real estate market, the truth is it's simply returning to a healthy balance. Today's rising interest rates are still historically low, and that has leveled the field for buyers, especially first-time home buyers. CBB Tacoma Broker Keith Hayden says, "I told my first-time home buyer that 'right now' is a fantastic time to buy a new house."

Indeed, inventory in the region has picked up substantially and prices have dropped slightly. That opens more great properties for buyers to choose from, while a less frenzied pace allows them to tour more than one home. Keith adds, "Listing agents actually call me after every showing and ask what their sellers can do to help my buyer make an offer."

More sellers are willing to offer deals such as covering closing costs. Home inspections are back, and sellers are willing to make repairs to accommodate buyers. The days of buyers having to shovel money out-of-pocket to win the bidding war on a property are in the rearview mirror, for now. Buyers are breathing a collective sigh of relief as it becomes possible, once again, to offer list price and below in today's 'cooler' market.

Sellers willing to flex a bit can still get their list prices. All It takes is to employ 'best practices' again. This means working closely with brokers to price properties appropriately for the changing market. Broker experience becomes even more valuable when it's time to navigate the negotiation process with potential buyers, so that each deal ends with a win-win for buyer and seller.

Keith Hayden isn't the only broker with good anecdote about today's market. CBB Redmond agent, Karen Eschbach, just closed for a couple from California on their first-time home purchase. It's an encouraging story, "I started working with them in January. They were initially looking for a condo since at that time they couldn't afford a single-family home with their $650K budget.  They were ready to buy a condo in April, but it turned into a multiple offer situation, and they realized they couldn't afford it in our crazy market."

Karen continues, "They took a couple months off and when they started looking again, they quickly found that even though the interest rates went up, they had barely any competition for homes. They ended up buying an adorable home in Renton for $550K. That home would have easily sold for $700K during our peak in the spring."

These are just two stories from today's cooling market. Historically low interest rates and expanding inventory are combining to make ours a more attractive market for first-time buyers and those in the mid-price range. That can be good news for brokers, buyers, and sellers alike.


birch bayOld World European style mingles with contemporary amenities to make this 15-acre waterfront property in secluded Blaine, Wash. an exceptionally rare find. Dramatic views of Upper Puget Sound off the Canadian border are served up from nearly 12,000 square feet of luxury living space in this unique and enchanting estate on Birch Point. A picturesque sanctuary on uncommon acreage calling you to enjoy the serene beach life. 

Enter through the beautiful iron gate and drive onto the scale-designed motor court surrounded by exquisitely landscaped meadowlands. The classic stone exterior delights with its copper roof accents and turrets adorned with the tile roof. As soon as one enters the home's
custom, double front doors one is treated to breathtaking views of the sparkling bay through the formal living room with two-story soaring ceilings, accented by a dramatic chandelier and distinctive fireplace mantle. Adjacent sits a family room with wood burning fireplace and French door access to the back patio.

A well-appointed, eat-in kitchen is any chef's dream with double hidden appliances behind Wenge custom cabinetry with expansive space for preparations. The breakfast nook includes additional built-in cabinetries with access to the outdoor kitchen and Gazebo fireplace sitting area. A pass-through service window serves a formal dining room with cottage style windows and views the motor court. 

On the opposite side of the grand entry, you will find a private executive office, including a boardroom perfect for important meetings made more noteworthy under the wood beamed ceilings. Custom cabinetry surrounds a fireplace illuminated by tall windows that capture the water views. The office opens to an expansive, covered patio with bay views, while an elevator next to the office accesses all three floors of the home. An elegant flex room and half bath overlook the motor court, and offers built-in cabinetry, a window seat for relaxed reading and a walk-in closet making it readily available as a main floor bedroom.

The entire estate is comprehensively outfitted for business, entertainment, and wellness. 

The lower-level offers a state-of-the-art home theatre with seating for up to 12 and a Club Room complete with billiards table, five-seat bar, and memorabilia showcase. The black walnut carved statues at the entrance of the Club Room were procured from the RMS Olympic, a transatlantic ocean liner build in 1908 and sister ship to the Titanic and Britannic. The hand carved fireplace mantle depicts historic images of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith.

The lower-level wellness area includes a ¾ bathroom and a cedar lined dry sauna to soothe sore muscles after working out in the fully appointed gym, along with a 1,000-bottle capacity wine cellar perfect for impromptu tastings, as well as a custom safe room.

The luxurious owners' retreat on the second floor is ideal for unwinding at the end of the day with exquisite French doors opening to a view balcony and fireplace. Ensuite tenders a fireplace, double vanity, steam shower, jetted tub, and makeup counter, as well as a private water closet. The generous walk-in closet has extravagant storage space, as well as a washer and dryer. The second master suite showcases an Italian Carrara marble fireplace, a private balcony with French doors, an ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet. Comfortable secondary rooms all have private balconies, ensuites and walk in closets.

The grand patio is perfect for displaying your favorite outdoor furniture and flowers with six access points to the home. A lighted staircase leading to the beach located across from an expansive front yard with a pond feature and gardens. The sixty-zone irrigation system maintains the landscaping treasures and the brand-new Elan Smart Home system keeps everything up and running via an app on your smartphone.

One Bedroom Caretakers Suite offers a separate entrance and utility meters.

This rare, private location of 15 gated acres is close to the Canadian border, Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club and Marina, the village of Birch Bay and the Bellingham International Airport.

The Birch Point Property is listed by CBBs Bethnie Morrison for $6.5 million. For more information visit Bethnie's website:


john and thereseHailing from Elk Grove, Calif. near Sacramento, John and Therese Kingsbury found success early in life and were able to retire at age 50.  Living 'the dream,' they bought a yacht and sailed for several years in and around Washington's San Juan islands, when they decided they wanted a more permanent home in this lush and scenic region.

They put their active real estate licenses and experience to work researching islands that might match their needs. In the process, John and Therese settled on Whidbey Island and learned enough to build a thriving real estate business specializing in Island/Skagit Counties vacation homes.

The Kingsburys encourage their clients to buy vacation homes as getaways, future retirement homes, investments, and active businesses, while guiding them through careful research. Here are some of their top tips for buyers and, in turn, other brokers who might want to enter this segment of the real estate business:


  1. Investigate the destination before you buy – be Informed! Each island has its own personality, advantages, and disadvantages. For example, how willing are you to be tied to a ferry schedule?  Subscribe to the local newspaper, check the Chamber of Commerce, join Facebook groups in that area, and attend different churches. Island communities are small towns - make certain your neighbors are like-minded.  Find out if it's a charitable community, as that can say a lot about the people. 
  2. Consider buying the home to use as a short-term rental. Many people do this to cover the taxes, and the property gets cleaned regularly forcing owners to keep it in good shape, especially if it would have only been used a few weeks out of the year otherwise.
  3. Find out the typical vacation rental fee for the destination. It may seem high, but people often vacation with other couples or families and split the cost.  It can pay off for clients to buy much more house and reap the future benefits as it appreciates.  
  4. Before creating a short-term rental, it's important to know whether the location is unincorporated. Some cities have laws that restrict your ability to host paying guests for short periods. These laws are often part of a city's zoning or administrative codes. In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before you list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in how they enforce these laws.


For realtors interested in selling vacation homes, in addition to the tips above, John and Therese recommend getting to know your market. Consider access to beach and water views. Find out about local non-profits.  Not only do they offer satisfying participation in community, but they also offer access to potential clients. Help clients get creative in financing to manage rising interest rates. They're still very low, especially for those who are more financially secure.

Be a problem solver. Get to know local landscapers, plumbers, electricians and movers, house cleaners for vacation homes. Make sure you can be of maximum service to clients and help ensure their vacation rental is an asset, not an anchor for them.

John and Therese Kingsbury know from experience how a vacation home purchase can be a happy ending. They ended up on Whidbey Island living on a vast estate which they continue to groom with sculptures and nearly 100 Rhododendron species. Both are involved with local charities. They went from knowing no one, to being major players in their community.



michael ackermanOur two-year-old white-hot market had to correct at some point, says TeamUp Seattle Managing Broker, Michael Ackerman. And while it's still a seller's market, there may finally be some opportunities for buyers.

The cooling real estate market seems to have created a "flood of inventory" for buyers. At the same time, the rise in interest rates has bumped some of those buyers in the under $750K range out of the market.  Qualifying for large mortgages is tough for all buyers, but properties in the $1M plus range are still selling, despite having slowed down recently.

Reasonably priced, well represented and staged properties, says Ackerman, may still see multiple offers. But the days of bidding wars and two-day sales for over the asking price may be in the rear-view mirror. With sellers having to adjust their strategies, buyers might be able to get into desirable properties for the asking price while interest rates are still at a relatively low at around 5%.

"We need to work with sellers – and to a certain extent also buyers - to help them adjust their expectations. There's been a palpable shift in the last month; everyone seems to be taking a collective breath.  In our locally strong economy, the market it still active. Though the January 6 hearings, the war in Ukraine, and stock market fluctuations are affecting the luxury market most dramatically with an 18% drop from last year.

Ackerman adds there's still plenty of business to go around. Market variabilities are a "psychological head game," and managing that requires flexibility.  Ackerman advises brokers to "stay buoyant and remain hopeful."  The truth is a balanced real estate market creates more win-win situations. He adds that the cooling market requires a bit more creativity.  "Hone your negotiating skills," he says.  "It's time to look at creative financing contingencies, being more aggressive about open houses and spending more quality time and energy on each listing. Make sure your systems are in good shape and that you can 'do it right the first time' every chance you get."

Interest rates may still go higher, so it makes sense to remind buyers this could be a good time for them. "Be passionate about helping clients through this important life event. Be honest, flexible and realistic as you set expectations for buyers and sellers. How can you fit into their life story?" he asks, "How can you serve it best?"

The white-hot market was unsustainable.  Knowledge is power, says Ackerman.  Make sure you know all you need to know about today's fluctuating market and set realistic expectations for your clients, your colleagues and yourself.

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