There has been widely-reported criminal fraud within the banking industry specific to technology hacks sent to customers via email, text, Facebook messenger, etc, after obtaining access to trusted friends' accounts. By all appearances you think a friend or business vendor with whom you have a relationship has sent you a link that ends up being corrupt, and this has resulted in people sharing personal financial information and losing a lot of money.
When buying a home, we're hearing increasingly troubling stories of how criminals have become more and more sophisticated, with some buyers losing hundreds of thousands of dollars during a home purchase transaction when transferring earnest money or funds to close the sale via wire. The most recent example being a loan officer calling a home buyer directly, impersonating bank representative with a major national bank.
One thing is clear – while the internet offers us convenience and efficiencies, and has become a trusted resource, criminals are watching our every move, especially via email. Then, armed with a lot of specific information on a home transaction, they strike – appearing credible in every way. Any entity in the chain (bank, title company, escrow company, etc.) can be effectively impersonated.
There are several ways you can protect yourself, most of which harken back to the "olden days" – when we did everything in person, by phone call, or with a cashier's check. Here's a list of what buyers should consider before making a wire transfer:
By knowing what to watch out for, we can help you identify fraud events before they happen and ensure your dream home becomes your reality.
When Charles Eckardt joined Coldwell Banker Bain of Anacortes in 2017, he was recently retired after 20 years in the U.S. Navy, serving as an aircraft mechanic. Over the course of his military service, he was transferred several times during which he purchased and sold homes.
"I have always just loved houses – and also found the buying and selling process really interesting," he said. "It's funny, but I knew I wanted to go into real estate from early on, way before I was thinking of retiring."
Now, as one of the office's top producers, serving primarily military families relocating to our region, he has obviously chosen the right career path.
Joining the Navy at age 17 right after graduating high school in Connecticut, Charles was first stationed in Brunswick, Maine, where he spent eight years and met his wife Victoria. He was then transferred to Texas where he spent six years, finally moving to the Pacific Northwest for what would be his final Navy stint stationed at NAS Whidbey Island.
Charles and his family liked the area so much, that upon his retirement, they decided to stay. "The beauty and temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest made our choice easy - the harsh winters of our native New England really was the biggest reason why we did not seek to return there," he said.
Through his relocations, not only did Charles really enjoy the transaction process of buying and selling his homes, he also became handy and adept in doing much of his own remodeling work and repairs, another key interest that played a role in deciding to become a broker following his military retirement.
Growing up on the east coast, where Coldwell Banker had strong brand recognition, Charles sought out Coldwell Banker Bain after interviewing with several brokerages.
"The location of the Anacortes office, close to my home, as well as Bain's Home from Service program, which picked up the fees for my first year in business, and the company's support of me going through the relocation program, have been incredible. I am finding that Coldwell Banker Bain is a great fit for me," he said.
Today, Charles gets most of his business via word-of-mouth and referrals, and notes how important video tours have been in facilitating transactions, especially during COVID restrictions. Coldwell Banker Bain's affiliation with Navy Federal Credit Union has also been helpful given his clients are primarily active military.
"Amazingly, about 75% of my sales last year were done with clients' buying a home sight unseen and only using video, and most definitely my understanding of how the financing works for many of these families - who are using VA loans that offer zero down payments - has helped work through the deals," he said. "The biggest challenge is setting realistic expectations given even in this area we're seeing many cash offers, and that can be a difficult issue to work through with these buyers who may not always be able to compete in that way."
In addition to loving the work and being able to help military families purchase a home, Charles finds the flexibility of working as a broker a huge benefit.
"My kids play club soccer, and I'm able to work my schedule around traveling with them for that activity, as well as spend more time with them as they grow up than I would have been able to do otherwise. You can't put a price on that," he said.
Ashley Jackson, a recently licensed real estate broker in the Coldwell Banker Bain of Silverdale office, received her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from WSU in 2015. She then spent several years living and working in the Seattle area, serving as an Area Trainer for Domino's Pizza, where she helped develop and teach an award-winning training program.
When she joined Coldwell Banker Bain of Redmond as its office manager in 2018, it didn't take her long to know that someday, she wanted to be a real estate broker.
"I was drawn to the job, although the idea of running my own 'business' was a bit daunting and the thought of giving up a more consistent salary and benefits a consideration," she recalled. "I wasn't sure I could do it, but my husband always knew… he thought it was right for me from the beginning. While initially I needed some coaxing, it truly has been a great and rewarding move for me."
Following serving for a year in the office manager position, where she helped onboard and train new brokers, including helping them set up their marketing and social media activities, Ashley accepted a regional marketing specialist position for Bain. Her area of responsibility was initially the north region – Lynnwood/Edmonds to Bellingham, including Everett and Anacortes – but she was then given responsibility for the high-volume offices of Lake Union, Capitol Hill, Madison Park and Bainbridge Island.
"I provided overall marketing support for brokers that included attending office meetings, communicating to brokers the various marketing services and materials that Bain's marketing department provided, and assisting with development of landing pages, web sites, social media platforms, listing materials and providing overall general training of new brokers," she said.
Ashley spent 1-1/2 years in this position, and coupled with her work as an office manager, became even more familiar with the life and work of a broker. As she continued to be intrigued with the possibility of moving into that role, her husband's acceptance of a job in Kitsap County and a subsequent move there forced the decision - it was the perfect time to study for her real estate license.
Ashley received her license in October 2020, and joined the Coldwell Banker Bain of Silverdale office. Since then, she has joined forces with Kendall Patterson, who she worked with in the Redmond office, to launch Team HomEquity.
"Kendall started in Redmond around the same time as I did as the office manager," Ashley said. "She was always so encouraging of me, and when Kendall began to talk about starting a female team, it made great sense for me to join her. We work really well together and complement each other in many ways."
The biggest challenge for Ashley in moving from more corporate positions to a broker role has been in staying consistent and focused on a daily routine and accomplishing tasks.
"I think having an accountability partner is paramount to a new broker's success," she said. "Kendall is that for me, and I have also benefited greatly from educating myself beyond getting my license… reading all the real estate books, participating in coaching classes with Joe Galindo, developing a business plan, etc. You definitely get out of it what you put in."
Ashley and Kendall have found that being active on social media has been really beneficial, focusing on Instagram and TikTok. "Bain has a very strong and solid brand in our region, so leveraging social media and showing your personality is a logical next step to build upon that brand," Ashley said. "We do a combination of videos on real estate topics, along with lighter and fun content based on what's currently trending."
They received their first joint listing from social media, Ashley reported, and she encourages other brokers to test it out.
"My love for real estate is that of any dreamer. I have always loved imagining the different ways you can make a house your home and often played games centered around building and decorating growing up. Social media allows me to stay connected and build relationships with a variety of people I may not run into in person, especially through COVID," she said.
Brokers from the Coldwell Banker Bain of Puyallup office, in partnership with the City of Bonney Lake Senior Center, recently helped Lucy Sanders, a Puyallup senior with much needed yard work. Under principal managing broker Laurie Lenihan, the office is working to increase its community involvement and give back. The Senior Center works to affirm the dignity and self-worth of older adults by providing services and activities in an atmosphere that encourages and supports senior life to the fullest.
Said Dale Shoemaker, an office broker who regularly volunteers for the Senior Center, and who facilitated the event, "Lucy is a sweetheart, and recently lost her husband. Even though her yard is not large she is unable to keep up with the maintenance of it. I was really happy that my colleagues joined me in helping her out."
The group mowed, weed-wacked, moved large structures and got Lucy's yard in tip-top shape even though the grass was up to their shoulders in certain areas of the yard. By all accounts Lucy was extremely grateful, being moved to tears by the team's work, and thanking them repeatedly – she was excited to show off the yard to her friends.
Left to right, back row: John Hanson, Chris DeVoe, and Jordan Byersdorf
Left to right, front row: Melanie Howell, Laurie Lenihan, homeowner Lucy Sanders, and Dale Shoemaker
Brokers and staff of the Coldwell Banker Bain of Vancouver East and West offices conducted a food drive in April with a goal of raising $5,000 between the two branches. Not only did the offices meet this goal, a check exceeding it for $5,480 was presented to the Clark County Food Bank on May 13.
"Gregg White and I are so thrilled with how our respective offices responded to the challenge we issued to help this incredible organization," said David Knode, SW WA Regional Manager. "It went so well that we're planning another fundraising event in the fall to include our clients."
The Clark County Food Bank is a regional food bank that distributes over eight million pounds of food and 6.7 million meals a year. It works with 43 partners at 130 distribution sites to serve 65,000 food insecure in the community,
Said Madison Sparks, the Food Bank's office administrative associate, "It was so nice to meet you in person and receive your generous gift. You and your agents at Coldwell Banker Bain raised $5,480. Wow! That money is going to provide up to 21,920 meals to people facing hunger in Clark County. Thank you so much for your efforts that are so desperately needed."
Left to right: Jenny Jeffries, Clark County Food Bank Executive Assistant; Phoebe Conrad, Clark County Food Bank Community Outreach; David Knode, CB Bain Vancouver East; Ali Laskowski, Clark County Food Bank Events Coordinator; Gregg White, CB Bain Vancouver West; and Madison Sparks, Clark County Food Bank, Office Administration Associate.
What does a stint in the U.S. Air Force, many years in insurance sales, service as a paralegal, and ownership of a consignment shop have in common? For Wayne Stephens, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain of Magnolia and a participant in Bain's Manager in Development (MID) program, these combined life experiences have led to real estate and community success.
After growing up in San Diego, Wayne started out his professional life in the U.S. Air Force, spending four years serving as a member of the military police, first in New Hampshire and then Spokane. He moved on from there to a small Spokane construction firm, which worked with the U.S. Army Core of Engineers on dams and other environmental engineering projects.
"I really loved my work with the construction firm and I learned so much," said Wayne. "Unfortunately, the firm struggled and I had to find a new professional opportunity."
Wayne took a position as a claims' adjuster for Allstate Insurance, where he spent several years successfully handling homeowner and property claims, and where he started to build a strong network of relationships in the Spokane and Seattle business communities. He then studied to become a paralegal and served in that capacity for firms that specialized in insurance investigation and defense work.
With this increased expertise in insurance matters, Wayne accepted a position with PEMCO, spending nearly 22 years there handling claims and IT department responsibilities. During that time, he gained full custody of his boys who were four and five at the time and raised them as a single parent until they graduated high school.
But after 25 years in the insurance sector, Wayne began to tire of it.
"After so many years, I started to find that the work was overwhelming. I liked achieving the end results but I didn't like the work. Each day meant I was going to be faced with the resolution of death, destruction or injury or that I'd be implementing systems designed to help manage the claims process. Very little in the work is positive. Either we paid too little and the customer is upset, or we paid too much and the company is upset. And system shutdowns simply couldn't happen. So, when the boys graduated high school I left to open my own company," he said.
Wayne opened a consignment shop, Armadillo Consignment, in August 2007 just as the housing crisis began and closed it in October 2017. During that time he never missed payroll, laid an employee off, missed a consignment payout and always paid twice the minimum wage or more. Located at 125th and Greenwood in Seattle, Armadillo offered vintage & contemporary furniture, apparel & housewares, with the store becoming a neighborhood fixture. During that 10 years Wayne was able to further develop relationships with contractors and real estate agents who were utilizing his shop for staging purposes.
Which brought Wayne to real estate. "My interactions with the many agents at my shop gave me a great sense of what being an agent is about, and it was really interesting to me. I knew it would enable me to both leverage my experience and also have the personal connections that I really value."
In 2017 he joined the Coldwell Banker Bain of Lake Union office, where his life experiences have served him well in developing his practice. He decided to take advantage of the COVID slowdown to study for his managing broker license, and entered Bain's MID program in February.
CB Bain's MID program has been a long-time part of the company's efforts to develop broker leaders. Tasha Pasco, CB Bain's executive vice president of sales and leadership development, oversees the program in order to provide a practical approach to assist those who are interested in learning more about being an assistant managing broker or a principal managing broker in the future. The backgrounds of those entering the program varies – some indicate interest themselves and others are nominated by company leaders who see special leadership qualities in them.
Said Tasha, "There is no exact timeframe for how long a participant stays in the program. Even if someone from the program advances to a management position, they will often stay in the program as they work through their new position and their new daily tasks. We know it can take a new PMB with CB Bain up to two years to really grasp the entirety of the job and this program, along with our updated PMB onboarding checklist, will help them navigate that learning curve and shorten the process toward their path to success."
"It has been a complete eye-opener to see what being a principal managing broker entails and requires," he said. "Nothing just happens, there is an operational strategy – with lots of reports and data to consider. I am continually learning and am always so impressed by how the other PMBs think, and the many diverse perspectives we have within the company."
Wayne was appointed Managing Broker in Magnolia in March 2021 where he continues to learn, train and recruit for the company. "I have a strong desire to help people who are not high wage earners get into our market and the industry. Not by 'artificial' means, but through early education about the benefits of working in our industry and then attracting the best talent," he said.
A commitment to serving the community has long been important to Wayne - he is currently running for a Board position with the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors, saying, "I think the real estate community together with business should be more proactive in solving the issue of homelessness. Here again, I'm not talking about tossing more money at the issue, but it strikes me that as I hear solutions go by, I don't hear from leaders in our industry."
He also on the Board of Directors for Run to Win kids sports camps, a non-profit founded by Husky Rose Bowl Winner Mike Rohrbach. "Our industry has weathered the pandemic extremely well, but there are many that haven't. I believe we have a duty to give back and volunteer in whatever way makes sense in our community," he said.
The Coldwell Banker Bain of Longview office has been named "best" real estate office by The Daily News' annual "Best of Lower Columbia" ranking. According to The Daily News, this is the largest celebration of local businesses, people and services across the entire Lower Columbia region, and has been for nearly two decades.
"We are thrilled that the community has recognized our work over the past year through this program – we love living and working in this community," said Kevin Stonelake, principal managing broker of the office. "It's been a challenging year for us all, but Longview has come together and weathered the storm."
This year, the publication broadened the endeavor by adding nearly three times as many categories – to more than 130 – in which readers can nominate and vote for their favorite businesses. The Best of Lower Columbia reflects readers' opportunity to celebrate local business owners and leaders who have earned this recognition - the best of the best in their respective fields.
The categories were organized within seven main groupings: Food & Drink, Services, Health & Wellness, Entertainment & Recreation, Automotive, Merchants & Retailers and Community. All of the favorite categories from years past, like Best Burger, Best City, Best Dentist and Best Coffee are all back, as well as over 90 new categories including Best Casino, Best New Business, Best Non-profit and many more.
Real estate agents sometimes get stuck in a rut, or simply struggle to grow their business. As seen in a recent Inman article, "I got into a situation where I was just completely in a slump," … "Nothing I was doing was working and I couldn't find my way out of it. I had been cruising along and I just hit that wall." These are just some of the comments agents had before making the decision to work with a real estate coach.
After working with one, these same agents reported an impact. "She gave me small projects to do that kind of got me back on track. She pushed me to hit that mark I wanted to hit in sales producing and got me rolling in the right direction. My transaction volume increased by 'a million and a half dollars in six months.' "
Whether new to the practice, or on auto-pilot after decades in the business, our crazy market and the myriad of changes to which we've had to respond during the pandemic makes working with a coach something from which anyone can benefit.
Enter Joe Galindo, who partnered with Coldwell Banker Bain in May 2020 and since then, those agents who are working with him have on average experienced 39% increase in Gross Commission Income. An amazing result, especially considering that the company pays half of Joe's fees for new licensees and for seasoned agents, fees are covered in full.
"My expertise is in helping brokers get organized so that they can have both a thriving practice as well as carve out personal time, in order to have balance," he said. "Making money is not hard, especially in our market, but getting to their 'whys,' helping them find the 'whys of their clients,' in order to focus their efforts is a large part of my value."
Said Tasha Pasco, CB Bain's EVP Sales and Leadership Development, "We wanted to ensure our brokers had access to a top-notch resource for coaching and Joe has shown his ability to really move the needle for many brokers over the past year. We felt that a more relational option, and different from a sales manager, would only make our services stronger."
Joe's mission statement is straightforward and committed - Joe Galindo Coaching exists to increase the productivity and work-life balance of real estate professionals through one-on-one coaching, personal accountability, and collaboration.
And he knows of which he speaks, as a residential real estate professional himself with a passion for coaching and training. Joe's career spans three decades and during that time he worked for three major Washington State brokerage firms, and has lived through the boom and bust of many real estate cycles. Joe has held several senior level leadership positions, including Vice President of Operations for the largest Sotheby's franchise in Washington State, and as the former Broker/Owner of Windermere Cascades Group, Inc. Most recently Joe served as Managing Director of Strategic Coaching for Compass Washington, and currently serves as a Director on the Seattle King County Board of Realtors.
"The biggest challenge I see with brokers who are struggling is not putting an actual business plan in writing, and not having someone holding them accountable for its implementation," said Joe. "It's a lack of consistency, of envisioning and committing to their blueprint of the plan for the year, and having someone checking in with them to keep them on track as they get busy."
As part of his Coldwell Banker Bain coaching program, Joe offers:
Here are just a few of the results seen by CB Bain brokers who are working with Joe:
Kendall Patterson, Coldwell Banker Bain of Redmond increased her production nearly three times in 2020 from the previous year. Kendall also was awarded the International Sterling Society Award for 2020, and this in just her second year in real estate.
Grayden Economides, Coldwell Banker Bain of Vancouver had a great first year and was awarded Rookie of The Year for the office.
Joe Girvin, Coldwell Banker Bain of Issaquah was the #2 broker in volume for 2020 he too saw an increase in production in 2020 by applying some basic principles. He is now in the process of hiring an assistant to help with the increased work load.
And if that weren't enough, the latest stats of his broker participants say it all:
The benefits are clear. If you'd like to hear more, talk to your office PMB or call Joe directly at 206.200.9720.