For 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.
Hailing 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:
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.
Our 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.
For David Merrick, broker and Global Luxury Specialist in CB Bain's Vancouver, Washington office, success is all about relationships. And he has 25 years of industry achievements to back up the value of that strategy. As a gay realtor, David has taken advantage of his ability to assess people and his surroundings while working with clients, potential clients, and colleagues. He acknowledges occasional challenges, but declares he's faced very few professional obstacles based on his LGBTQ status.
"You may encounter awkward situations where a client may not be as accepting as you would like. It's ok to walk away from these situations. Professionally declining their business and referring them to a broker who may be a better fit is not only better for you, but for your business in the long term. It will also improve your chances of other brokers referring comparable clients to you."
David puts effective networking at the top of his list of best practices. He does this with memberships in multiple gay realtor organizations, such as NAGLREP (National Association of Gay/Lesbian Real Estate Professionals), the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and the Real Pride Network. He cites the high value of these networks for acquiring, as well as sending out referrals; reciprocity builds relationships. "These groups also do a great deal of work in promoting causes with NAR (National Association of Realtors) and with federal and local governments to keep equality in the conversation in real estate and beyond."
These organizations have membership listings on their websites, which David claims are well worth the minimal membership fees. There are also other relatively inexpensive LGBTQ+ sites to help build name recognition, mainly for buyer/seller leads. Gayrealestate.com, Gay Real Estate Directory and GayRealtyNet.com are a few. David suggests there are certain feeder markets where it makes sense to run target Facebook ads, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago…you just need to know who you want to reach.
Born and raised in Southern California, David has lived in the San Francisco Bay area, New York, and Utah, but he now calls the Pacific Northwest home. He holds broker licenses in Washington and Oregon, lives and works in the Camas and Washougal area because of its "easy access to beautiful hiking trails and the Columbia River, amazing views of Mount Hood, and proximity to all the great restaurants, shopping, and nightlife that Portland has to offer."
David also uses the concept of networking with his clients. He learned early in his retail career to listen to customers and follow up by working diligently to match their needs and negotiate their best price whether buying or selling a property. He claims that getting to know his clients is the best part of his job, and he proves that by connecting them to their new communities. He's started hosting dinners and wine tastings for new homeowners to introduce them to members of their new community. "Several of my clients move into the area and don't know anyone, so helping them connect with others has proven beneficial and has been well received within my sphere!"
And he applies his eye for interior design and architecture to help clients visualize the possibilities in a home they're considering or to stage the home they're selling in a most appealing way. He also works with volunteer organizations in his community – Habitat for Humanity and the local food bank being his favorites. He says, "...it always feels good to 'give back' to the community that I work in."
Being a gay broker carries with it some special safety concerns. Realtors are easy targets, unfortunately, says David, "...as we often work alone at open houses and taking clients on property tours. So, it's always a good idea to know your surroundings and potential ways to get out of a home or property, if necessary." David says he doesn't always feel comfortable showing a property in a certain area, he makes sure he tells a trusted friend where he's going and when.
David's success as a broker draws on a comprehensive approach and a solid sense of his own talents. Here's what he has to say about it:
Be involved in local community and things will continue to grow as you get and stay connected.
Meet Hannah Dubnye, Coldwell Banker Bain's tenacious Vancouver and Camas, Wash.-based REALTOR®, striving to provide the most seamless experience to her clients through technology and social media. In her business, Dubyne Realty Group of Coldwell Banker Bain, her goal is to combine "thoughtful, personal service with social media and online presence."
Professionalism, poise, and a detailed work ethic aren't just words to Hannah. She wasted no time achieving her career goals: During high school she managed a restaurant and in just three years, she graduated college with a degree in finance, all while working multiple jobs. After interning for several different businesses, she determined she could best apply her entrepreneurial edge and social media acumen to a career in residential real estate. Assessing her options, Hannah headed to Vancouver, an area she researched through multiple social media platforms.
"I felt the Vancouver/Camas market had been underserved, given the lack of active social media," she said. "I built Instagram and Facebook pages as places I could introduce myself and tell well-crafted stories about listings."
She found telling authentic stories through video has enabled her to engage with almost 2,000 people. She humbly admits her first videos weren't her best, but through trial and error, she found the right rhythm.
Hannah enjoys providing value for clients by creating useful stories on video. She targets relocation clients by engaging and speaking to them as they comment or follow her Instagram stories. She narrates and puts herself in the buyer's shoes.
"People want a visual, but they also want someone to walk them through a property," she added.
Hannah's Social Media Strategy:
Hannah believes that the actual number of followers isn't as important as quality of the people who are interested in selling or purchasing a home. Her social accounts, which are relatively new and still growing, enjoy solid engagement and interaction. Clearly her strategy is working, as she has achieved her initial goal of representing buyers and sellers of at least a dozen listings in nine short months.
Curious to see Hannah's work in action? Check out her accounts on Instagram and Facebook. She also maintains a "Weekend Happenings with Hannah" email campaign and uses an email capture feature on her website to build that email recipient list.
Being a REALTOR® inherently commands engagement and communication; social media is just one more tool in the toolbox. If you're hoping to make your listings more accessible, to offer interactive conversations (answering questions online for the benefit of other potential buyers or sellers to also learn), attract new clientele, and share what's great about your community, consider these valuable channels.
As we celebrate the season of giving, we're sharing the magic of holiday wishes and dreams coming true, and the warm spirit and dedication of our Bain family. Our connection to community is always a driving force in what we do, and this time of year, we're sharing joy and inspiration, giving our time and special donations to make life a little brighter for all.
Thank you for all of your donations! There's still time to donate at several of our offices...
Duvall and Everett Offices Sponsored Surviving Families of Auburn Apartments Fire
Vancouver East / Vancouver West Clark County Food Bank Donations
Portland Uptown Partners with Christmas Family Adoption Foundation
Puyallup Sponsors A Family of Five
Tacoma Partners with Salvation Army for their Angel Tree
Kirkland Toys for Tots
Lake Oswego & Safe Families Christmas Gifts
Redmond Toys for Tots
Bellingham Toys for Tots
Anacortes Toys for Tots
Bend Toys for Tots & Local Coat Drive
Kent Station Toys for Joy
In late September 2020, Coldwell Banker Bain donated $26,700 to Northwest Response, a partnership of the American Red Cross and KING5 TV for the nonprofit's Wildfire Relief Fund, supporting residents impacted by wildfires in Washington and Oregon. CB Bain collected donations from its brokers and employees, with the company matching all donations.
Julie Kent, corporate relations officer of Red Cross Northwest, recently reached out to CEO Mike Grady to express her gratitude, once again:
"I will always remember the email I received from KING 5 saying that Coldwell Banker-BAIN had raised funds with their employees for the Washington Wildfires," Kent shared recently in an email. "To meet with you and receive those checks from your incredibly giving employees and to see the match you and your partner had offered, it was overwhelming to see such generosity."
Kent shared an update and extended her organization's gratitude to everyone at Coldwell Banker Bain for helping those in need. Thanks to many compassionate supporters, the Red Cross has raised $48.9 million, including the value of critical donated goods and services, for those affected by the daunting wildfires in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. With some funds remaining, the Red Cross will continue to provide services for long-term recovery in the impacted communities. Take a closer look at the Red Cross's 1 Year Update here.
Here's a snapshot of those 2020 Western Wildfires relief impacts, by the numbers:
Mike Grady remembers feeling compelled to make a difference in the wake of so much devastation: "It evokes emotion, remembering how we all pulled together to make something great happen," Grady said. "It's just what we do, but far more than that, it's who we are; everyone who participated should draw great satisfaction in knowing the difference we can make together."
Thank you again to all of our generous brokers and employees!
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 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.