Coldwell Banker Bain Real Estate Blog Home

Subscribe and receive email notifications of new blog posts.

rss logo RSS Feed
Bellevue WA | 12 Posts
Buying a House | 7 Posts
Home Maintenance | 30 Posts
Portland OR | 51 Posts
Redmond WA | 2 Posts
Seattle WA | 51 Posts
Tacoma, WA | 2 Posts
Uncategorized | 35 Posts
Vancouver, WA | 1 Posts

Coldwell Banker Bain is proud to share its platform to recognize AAPI Heritage Month (May), which honors the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success. Within our own organization, Tina Nguyen of Mercer Island Upside Properties is an integral part of its success; her team recently won Best Team Award by Seattle Agent Magazine. As a first-generation American born to Vietnamese immigrants, Tina shares her story and how her heritage and work experience helps serve her client base.

Tina's mother is the second oldest of nine siblings. She, her three younger brothers, and two older sisters left Vietnam in phases in the early 1980s, intent on immigrating to the United States. Her mom and two sisters had a long journey that took them first through Malaysia, then the Philippines for six months waiting on approval to go on to Seattle. They arrived by plane in 1984 and Tina was born a few years later.

"My mother is the strongest and hardest-working person I know, and she never faltered. She had a home-based daycare for 20 years," Tina says. "She's taught me so much about discipline, integrity, and treating clients like family. She's been an entrepreneur her whole life and I look up to her in every way."

The industrious nature must be genetic, because Tina has cultivated a rewarding career in real estate following a career in medical interpretation. Her work foundations began with childcare and the restaurant industry.

"I enjoy working with people and in teams while also being very independent," Tina says. "I worked in the restaurant industry for eight years, where I helped my customers and assisted my team's customers in the front of the house and the staff in the back of the house; there's always something to do."

Tina also opened and ran a licensed childcare facility for over three years where she and her business partner aligned their goals and divided the daily workload to scale it into a thriving business.

"When all team members know their parts in the business and can produce, that's when you're able to make new goals and see how well you can do," Tina says. "Working with children taught me to keep things fun and be prepared for the unexpected, because anything can happen.

Tina became a Certified Medical Interpreter after graduating from the University of Washington. She notes she's always gravitated towards jobs where she can work with others and be of service. Her clients included medically distressed immigrants, and she says they were always grateful for her help.  She assisted her community with their regular appointments, surgeries, therapy sessions, and more.

Working as a medical interpreter, Tina said she could quickly adapt to different medical teams and effectively communicate the patients' needs. This field also afforded her practice in delivering sensitive information to minimize confusion. "The professionalism and work ethic that doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and staff provided to patients and me was an excellent experience to learn from and later implement in my business," Tina says.

With her attention now fully focused real estate, Tina has built a clientele of which approximately 30% are Vietnamese. Tina's own professionalism, clear communication, and attention to detail are why past clients regularly request her. Working with families and exceeding their expectations has been a critical driver of her success as an entrepreneur. Having 80% of business come from client referrals showcase that her client's satisfaction comes first.

Tina networks with her community via social media, by keeping in touch with her Vietnamese contemporaries in the real estate industry, and by attending community events and holiday celebrations. When she has extra time, you'll find her catching up on news in Vietnam or watching Shark Tank Vietnam to keep a pulse on the country's emerging businesses and entrepreneurs.

Keeping established relationships is also important to Tina. For that, she taps a CRM and she also self-tracks. She keeps a list of current and previous clients on her phone, stays in touch, and maintains an excel sheet – updated monthly complete with birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones (recognized with cards or small gifts). 

She's been in the shoes of a new realtor and offers these tips to help those just starting out:

  • Clear out your schedule, especially weekends, to shadow your team members, host open houses, show clients' homes, or go to open houses and view properties yourself.
  • Read the contract manuals and practice writing offers before working with clients so you're efficient and comfortable.
  • Take care of your physical and mental health. It's a lot of information and can be overwhelming. Every day is different, and you need to find a routine that works for you. Don't expect to memorize everything; know where to access it and slowly internalize the information.

Tina's words to live by tell you she doesn't mind a challenge or hard work. Her go-to quotes are: "Mind over matter," "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity," and "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."

We're grateful to recognize the life experiences Tina brings to her career, her clients and her award-winning team. During AAPI Heritage Month and every day, we thank Tina for being a part of what makes Coldwell Banker Bain so dynamic.


cyrus fieneCyrus Fiene's accomplishments as a REALTOR® belie his seven years as a broker. Entering the field of real estate at age 21 can be daunting, and for Cyrus, he chose a path to success by networking largely on his own and getting to know prospective clients by working other brokers' open houses. Today, he leads a team where he mentors other agents, helping them fast-track their careers through the best practices he refined.

Recently selected as one of Coldwell Banker International's top 30 Agents Under 30 for the second time, before starting his team, Cyrus ranked in the Top 1% of Coldwell Banker Worldwide. Since founding Cyrus Fiene Team, in its first year in the "team size 3 or less" category, it has achieved top 4% internationally at Coldwell Banker, selling over $60 Million in Sales in 2021 (among more than 100,000 agents). He characterizes his client relationships to be built on trust, integrity, and his "relentless effort to get the job done."

Raised in Edmonds and an alumnus of Seattle University in Capitol Hill, Cyrus grew up and worked all over the Puget Sound, from Redmond to downtown Seattle. His knowledge of Seattle's neighborhoods gave him a near encyclopedic fluency to pair listings with his clients' unique lifestyles and needs. But he almost missed his calling in real estate.

Fresh from college graduation, Cyrus started to work at a marketing firm. Six months into it, he realized it wasn't for him. He recalled that his mother, who was a part-time real estate agent, always remarked that he'd do well working in the industry. A year after her passing from cancer and following a three-week, soul-searching super cruise courtesy of his father, Cyrus told himself he'd try it for a year. If it was successful, he'd continue; if not, he'd keep searching.

Cyrus joined CB Bain right away, impressed by how much it focused on education. He admits he is not one to work under the 'fake it 'til you make it' mentality: "I really need to know what I'm talking about; when I know my craft very well, I can be confident about it," he said. Cyrus immersed himself in education and classes, as well as mentoring under John Deely who was managing broker at the time (now Coldwell Banker Bain's EVP of Operations). 

Cyrus recalls commuting to the South Lake Union office from Edmonds his first four years – and how he made it to the office every single day. By being in the office and hearing the chatter of the successful agents, he learned a lot about client behavior and agent gems of the trade. "For me, being physically present was the only way to go – I firmly believe that – in real estate – things must be done in person. Feeling the space, taking in the neighborhood, talking to the neighbors. It is home, it isn't something you can genuinely experience virtually."

As a young agent, Cyrus chose to build his network by covering open houses for other brokers in his office. No one in his personal network could yet afford to buy a house, so by becoming an expert in his field during the first few years, he'd be ready when his own network was in a position to buy.  It wasn't the easiest path, but for Cyrus, it was one he found rewarding.

During COVID's initial shutdown, when the world stood still, Cyrus called all the brokers he respected and asked them about their teams and how to launch one.  He used the time to analyze his business needs and formed his own team, starting with a transaction coordinator. Today, his four-person team is all brokers: Tarice, Thomas and Monica. "I helped Monica and Thomas get their first houses; I was their broker!" he mused. 

The main benefits to his team of brokers are Cyrus's training, guidance, and his insights—especially after approaching this field without a team, initially. Having access to the contacts he's acquired over the years and to be able to align with his stellar reputation are also huge bonuses.

Some of Cyrus' key points for new brokers are:

  1. Put in the hours. Real estate is a 24/7 career, i.e., researching and stats, scouring industry articles, contacting brokers to get their open houses, website marketing, working on CRM, initiating coffee meetups, etc. Eight out of 10 first-year agents don't renew their licenses after year one; another 80 percent of the remaining agents don't renew in the second year. It takes a tenacious and self-driven personality to succeed.
  2. Listen to your clients and act on their feedback. Spend time getting to know your clients, put yourselves in their shoes, and ask detailed questions that paint a full picture.
  3. Follow up and follow through. This applies to clients, as well as colleagues; deliver on your promises. Integrity is valued and follow-through shows that you are committed.
  4. Save up before starting out. Save enough money to sustain you through your first six months, because your first sale might take that long.
  5. Work the way that serves you best. Plenty of brokers don't work on a team and find it manageable. Others crave the team atmosphere, camaraderie, and shared connections and experience. Do what suits you best - just know that starting on your own could be the more challenging path.

Additionally, if you're an established broker and so busy that you don't have the capacity to serve everyone who seeks out your help, chances are you're losing out on business - consider starting a team. Just know that once you have a team the work doesn't get easier.

"People have this impression that starting your own team saves you time. That simply is not the case. As a team leader, I must sustain my own business while also helping my teammates grow their own. As a solo agent for six years, to me, it is 100% worth it and motivating for me to have the buzz of a team, the support of one another, and people to celebrate wins with," Cyrus says.

Take a moment to hear what his own clients say about Cyrus in this short video here.

Follow Cyrus on Instagram at @cyrusfiene_seattlerealtor.

cyrus fiene team


rocky flowers team diva

Rocky Flowers of Team Diva based in CB Bain's Lake Union office, centers his practice on helping others, whether that takes shape in client education, delivering superior service, making the home-buying experience stress free, or breaking often intimidating barriers to help first-time homebuyers to achieve their dream.

He's also keenly aware of the importance of diverse representation in and out of the workplace and works to uplift others through advocacy and education. In his career, Rocky has been lauded with Top Producer Awards from Coldwell Banker for Teams, earned his Accredited Buyers Certificate, and working towards his Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with sights set on a future Managing Broker certification.

Team Diva is a diverse team that came together through mutual friendships. Chavi and Kim and Team Diva take an active role in the communities that they serve. Kim and Chavi make a concerted effort to support and financially contribute to Black organizations like the CD Arts Forum and the NW African American Museum. They use their platform to engage in and advocate for underrepresented groups. Kim and Chavi have actively worked to have women of color elected to local government, for example, to support diversity in policy-setting.

What brokerages need to do is engage and not virtue signal. "They need to be actually doing, and actually walking the walk," Rocky said. Using Team Diva as a guide for other offices to be more inclusive in their hiring practices, Rocky emphasizes the importance of representation. "As an industry we need to do more to recruit and support Black and minority brokers. Brokerages should partner with organizations in communities that are unrepresented in our industry."

When looking at the makeup in our country, diversity in the real estate industry is lagging behind. Substantive outreach is lacking, to help minority communities understand different the career paths the industry. That requires getting outside of our safe circles and communities.

"We need to think out of the box and keep in mind that the real estate industry isn't just about buying and selling houses; there's financing, title companies, escrow, appraisers, and we need representation in each facet of the industry, not just with real estate agents in brokerages," Rocky said. "One small action item a company can take: maintain a database of minority businesses within our industry, so they are included in the resources made available to agents."

When it comes to marketing, Rocky encourages brokers to ask themselves: Do I have Black clients? Do I have Black friends? Do those friends consider me a friend, or do I just know them? If the answers are no, Rocky says it's time to make changes. Show up and volunteer for organizations that support the Black and minority communities. Host first-time homebuyer classes with organizations that support home ownership for those often left out of the housing market.

And when it's time to hire, market open roles in places where communities of color will see them, he adds. "Go into spaces and let them know you are specifically working toward bringing communities of color to the table and advertise careers in those same communities." 

Brokers and REALTORs can have a profound impact on the Black community by helping its members achieve the American dream of homeownership and help a family create generational wealth. Rocky suggests intentionally helping one or two first-time home buyers instead of looking exclusively to a luxury-level clientele. The biggest barrier to Black homeownership is capital, and brokers would benefit by learning about and sharing program resources with prospective qualified buyers.

"There are some organizations agents can partner with that give access to people with limited funds. Homestead Community Land Trust is an organization I have worked with in the past that can put people on a path to home ownership. Homesite is somewhat familiar to brokers and offered through many local lenders; the program that offers down payment assistance to qualified buyers," Rocky said, adding that equally vital is education on home maintenance, because once you own a home you need to know how to maintain it.

Recognizing Seattle is one of many American cities with a history of racist real estate zoning a.k.a. redlining, Rocky and his cousin, former King County Councilmember Larry Gossert, have spoken with press about how this practice has affected Black homeownership and what can be done about it today.

"Currently in many deeds there is racist language prohibiting families like mine from owning homes," Rocky said. "While homeowners can have the racist language removed from their deeds, it is a reminder of Seattle's very real and painful past of segregation." Learn more about redlining in Seattle here.

An extension of Rocky's advocacy in real estate, in his spare time Rocky serves on the board of the Real Pride Network, which is an LGBTQ+ organization with members from the real estate industry. Diversity, inclusion, and philanthropy are the foundations of its network.

"We have worked to build an organization that is inclusive of every part of the LGBTQ+ community. Real Pride Network believes that our industry has a want and responsibility to give back to the communities we serve," he said.  "Right now, we are concentrating our efforts in supporting unhoused LGBTQ+ youth. We have partnered with True Colors United in the fight to house LGBTQ+ youth by donating funds and awareness to this issue."

"In general, for all of us it's about inclusion." Rocky said. "Put yourself out there. Read books about segregation's history. Volunteer for organizations supporting the Black community. And get to know people. "  

Bravo to Rocky and his meaningful work to include and uplift underrepresented members of the community, and in helping so many realize their dreams of home ownership for the first time.


jim goodwinImagine spending 30 years in the music business in Los Angeles, having fame and a self-built fortune, and then starting over after basically losing it all. Known to many in the 1980s as the keyboardist for rock band The Call, one couldn't listen to the radio or watch MTV in its early heyday without catching Jim Goodwin and his bandmates in the rotation. After decades in rock and roll, the high pressure music business in L.A., and the fast pace came with a cost. Jim's path into real estate was essentially a winding road that brought him right back to his family roots.    

Several major health scares gave Jim a wake-up call that meant changes were needed, and he took command. Setting and achieving goals both personally and professionally are how Jim has overcome obstacles. He hit the reset button on his life and re-centered himself with a fresh mindset and healthy habits. 

A friend of his mentioned Jim should consider the real estate business.  Jim's uncle and cousin had once owned the most popular real estate brokerage in Sisters. His Uncle Dave Goodwin, who owned Sisters Real Estate until its 2003 closure, was beloved and respected by all within the county.  Jim knew that if he took on real estate in Sisters, he would need to follow in some big footsteps to maintain his family's same high standards. The Goodwin name meant something. 

After moving to Oregon in 2009, Jim pursued the Goodwin real estate legacy. Jim's Uncle Dave is his inspiration, and he aspires to achieve that same level of integrity, honesty, and genuine love to help people find their homes in Central Oregon. Fast forward to 2022, and Jim's as endearing as his uncles in Sisters, only he happens to be a fixture of Coldwell Banker Reed Bros Realty.

Consider the nation's housing market over the last 13 years: A burst housing and lending bubble after an economic downturn, followed by unprecedented foreclosures, then a housing grab, and then relative stability with escalating home values. Then along came COVID, which has made inventory in the $500,000 range—prime for first-time homebuyers (and second home range)—scarce. If first-time buyers aren't prepared with their financials when inventory becomes available, opportunities can be quickly lost. 

Jim cares that his clients are educated and engaged about the challenges they are going to face in this new economy.  Right up front he tells them it's going to be tough, but to think of this as an exciting challenging that will be rewarding when things come together.  So, he takes the time to educate and prepare them so that when it's time to make it happen, they are ready to strike a deal. "To me, the reward is the feeling you get when you're appreciated by your clients; the work takes time, but the reward is that much sweeter," he says.

To be his best as a REALTOR®, Jim stays positive and nurtures his energy to best serve his clients. He accomplishes this through nutrition and exercise. He eats no sugar, takes in only very low carbs, drinks no alcohol, and he exercises every night.  These good habits have not only taken 40 pounds off his frame over the last couple of years, this clean living gets his "brain clicking."  He says this clarity of mind keeps him on his game so that he can do his best client work. "This is a service business, not a sales business," Jim says.

Goodwin's Good Living Tips:

  • Good diet = clarity
  • Exercise = less stress
  • Be a "Piglet" not an "Eeyore"

Jim is married to a nurse, and they appreciate every day and what they have together. He also is part of an equestrian trail group that takes a 5-day annual trip. Out of Hollywood and back to happier trails, Jim urges others to be their own best personal advocate.  "Don't wait," he says. "Take control of your health now and live your best life."


December tends to bring out the spirit of giving in all of us. And while it's nice to give around the holidays, brokers might also consider building year-round giving into their business plans. Coldwell Banker Bain's Jen Cameron lives by this example. She has worked giving back into her business strategy and gives a portion of her commission to local charities. The mom of a daughter on the autism spectrum, Jen has accepted help from others over the years, and she vowed that when she could, she would give back. Now, she's doing it in a BIG way with a Donor Advised Fund.

With more than 22 years of real estate experience in both the greater Seattle area and NYC markets, Jen Cameron has established herself as one of the top brokers in luxury real estate. She serves as Vice President of Global Luxury for Coldwell Banker Bain's 34+ offices across Washington and Oregon and fuses her real estate experience with intuition and ingenuity to make the impossible possible. An ambassador of positivity, she's a giver of good vibes with a built-in belief system: "In order to do well, we must first do good.

Jen is married to Scott Cameron and they have a blended family: Scott has three adult children and Jen has two grown children, one of whom, daughter Jordan, is on the autism spectrum. Jen and Scott are very active within the autism community, the special needs community and in supporting Augie's Quest for Cure ALS. Each year, they host a golf tournament here in the Pacific Northwest in support of raising funds to find a cure for ALS through Augie's Quest called the CURE ALS Golf Classic.

Jen consistently gives back a portion of her commission to local charities. Some nonprofits she's supported include Lambert House, championing LGBTQ causes; KCSARC which helps victims of sexual assault and abuse-related trauma; Autism Speaks – Augie's Quest; Rescue Freedom, rescuing women and children from human trafficking; and Northwest Harvest, to fight local food insecurity. Jen says there's always a need that is placed in front of you, and when this happens you need to pay attention. "The need came to you, because you have the ability to give," she says.

Looking ahead in 2022, Jen is focused on the Alyssa Brunette Adult Life Center at Seattle Children's, positively affecting children on the autism spectrum (where her daughter receives services), by lending support to Seattle Festival of Trees Seattle Gala. Her daughter also produces art shows to raise funds for Autism, underscoring a family legacy of giving. The Camerons will continue their support for Augie's Quest for ALS; Jen's father-in-law (her husband Scott's father) passed away from ALS. "Once you meet the ALS community, you can never turn your back on them," she says. "They need your voice and time is NOT on their side."

For Augie's Quest every dollar contributed goes toward research. She said clients have seen the causes she has championed and one even donated $1,000 to the ALS campaign. She's also seen a broker ripple effect: A portion of Jen's commission goes to a charity of choice, and another broker said they would also donate with ALL transactions. This is an impactful challenge that other brokers can embrace with their teams.

This year, Jen was able to open and donate a significant amount to a Donor Advised Fund for giving, which will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond for more charitable giving. The fund is like a charitable investment account, solely to support charitable organizations that personally matter. Cash, securities or other assets contributed are also usually eligible to an immediate tax deduction. In turn, funds can be invested for tax-free growth and you can recommend grants to virtually any IRS-qualified public charity. It's something other brokers can do with their investment advisors to "set it and forget it" for sustaining donations.

Giving back and helping others have always been part of Jen's DNA. She feels that she is reciprocating on the past generosity and support of others, especially having a daughter in need. "If you have it to give, you have to give it," she says. In terms of a giving strategy, if you don't have a cause dear to your heart, Jen suggests looking at current events, i.e., how the pandemic presented a very real, global problem of human trafficking and labor exploitation.

"It doesn't matter how much you have to give; you give what you can because it makes a difference," Jen says. "If it gets you outside of yourself, not focused on your own angst, or what you don't have, you'll begin to feel gratitude for what you DO have."

Tips for any broker to start to give back year-round:

  1. Start small, but start with something. It doesn't matter how much you give, but give what you can, because it makes a difference.
  2. Everyone has a talent. Offer your talent to a non-profit. Take on something that suits you and it will always be enjoyable and rewarding.
  3. Look at your own life: Where have you had needs in the past? Align your experiences to your causes for authenticity and meaning.
  4. Work giving and volunteerism into your business plan: Commit to a monthly amount, or an allotment of your time, and look at your goals for the new year.

Eric Gouge of CBB Sittauer Gouge Group in Edmonds never imagined as a young man he'd be following his mother into a real estate career, but that's exactly where he landed. After serving two deployments in the United States Marine Corps, he applied many of the character-building principles he learned during active duty to thrive in his second-act career as a broker.

As a young man, Eric unabashedly admits he did not aspire to be in real estate. While growing up, he associated the business with the chores he had to do for his mom Jean Sittauer's real estate business. He was often tasked with mowing lawns, dump runs, and general clean-up for her listings.

At 17, Eric wanted to join the USMC, and because of his age, his mom and dad had to sign an authorization for him to enlist. Two deployments later, first through the South Pacific (Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Kuwait, all over South Pacific) and a second to Iraq in 2007 at just 20 years old running reconnaissance missions, Eric learned quickly about responsibility and accountability.

Through his Marine Corps duty, Eric was an infantryman, in a scout sniper team, and served as a point man to lead patrols. He and fellow Marines would hide in buildings and watch people for four to five days on end, impressive when you consider these were young twenty-somethings shouldering big responsibilities.

"The characteristic I learned most in the Marine Corps and applies to real estate was the ability to stay calm, cool and collected," Eric says. "On my very first combat patrol in Iraq with my sniper team, we needed to know the town during the day before we could move around and perform reconnaissance missions at night."

He recalled leading a patrol in 2007 near the Euphrates when the dirt shot up and a crack of a bullet was heard.  His team was under attack. His training took over and despite the adrenaline, he and his group stayed calm. They took cover, waiting out the danger. "We all stood up and continued our patrol for another four hours as if nothing had even happened, kicking soccer balls with kids, waving at people and saying 'hello' along our patrol and quickly laughed it off," he said.

In 2008, during one of the most trying times in real estate in decades, Jean was still a top producer when she convinced Eric to get his real estate license. He started as her assistant, worked his way up, and today he and his wife, Jaimie, a residential broker also part of the Sittauer Gouge Group, are building on that legacy in hopes of carrying the business into future generations.

In real estate, personal character matters, Eric says. "Keeping those emotions in check and doing my job to the best of my ability without are so important," he says. "This is especially true in real estate, when it comes to dealing with negotiations, agents of all types, and clients; we are doing a disservice to our clients when we let our emotions take over and cloud our judgment. Staying calm and collecting your thoughts is one of the keys to being a successful real estate agent."

Eric also puts tougher days at work quickly in perspective by saying to himself, "This can't be as bad as that time I was fighting in a war!"

Other gems Eric has carried over from being a service member to his real estate work share parallel themes of honor, courage and commitment:

  1. Keep It Simple. The simpler something is, the more we tend to complicate it. For a listing, some new brokers might do 10 posts on social media as part of a long list of tasks. Keeping it simple means to take really good photos, do one video and one solid post with a video. Simplicity really can sell.
  2. Handle adversity head on. If something happens, immediately take action. The faster and quicker you do it, the quicker it can be resolved. Don't let it linger and wait to respond to an email; handle it quickly and directly. If something happens, immediately confront and take care of it, rather than let it fester. Few deals come without a snag of some sort. Handle it.
  3. Always be faithful to your wordSemper fidelis translates into real estate as always have client's best interest in mind, stick by your convictions, always stick by your client and be faithful. For example, if a client interested in a property, while it's legal to represent both buyer and seller, this doesn't always have BOTH best interests in mind. Give the Buyer to someone else in your office. Integrity matters.

As part of one of the most trusted real estate teams in Edmonds, with multiple awards to its credit, this family has cracked the code to working together seamlessly. In addition to listing and selling homes, Eric also specializes in helping fellow veterans with the home buying process. When he's not working with clients, you'll find Eric enjoying time with his wife, Jaimie, and their children: Six-year-old son Jackson--born on the 4th of July, four-year-old daughter Siena and newborn son, Raymond.

Learn more about Eric here and the family team at Sittauer Gouge Group here.


When my husband and I bought our new construction home, we opted for the fireplace upgrade. After spending years in an apartment with a fireplace, I simply couldn't imagine living without one. It's not just the warming heat in the cooler months that I appreciate; it's the cozy atmosphere and ambience, the eye-catching design, and the mantle where you can house happy memories and display holiday cards.

While my hubby and I continue to wait for our new construction home to be completed, I'm dreaming of what it will be like to have an awesome fireplace again. How will I make it pop? What rug will I put in front of it? How will I make the mantle special? So many ideas and all kinds of inspiration.

Whether you don't have a fireplace and you're thinking of getting one, or you're just considering a facelift on your existing cozy spot, here are some cool (or should I write, hot?) fireplace ideas for your own inspiration.

The Modern Take

Add a copper accent to your fireplace for an extra-warm touch and striking appearance.

Total Minimalism

Got windows? Consider a sleek, inobtrusive design that's still eye-catching and stunning.

Dramatic Contrasts

Frame your fireplace with contrasting shades to make it pop in your room.

Embrace Existing Elements

Don't hide the original beauty of your fireplace! Work with the design to enhance its striking appeal.

Go Glass

For a truly minimal design that lets the fire shine bright, consider a completely glass fireplace.

Screen It

Give your fireplace an extra pop of interest with a compelling screen.

Stone Beauty

Keep it cozy and natural with a stone design.

Innovative Architectural Design

Make use of a small space with a unique fireplace design that will wow.

Warm the Bath

Want to really pamper yourself? Heat up your bath with a fireplace just for your daily soak.


Todd Shively, Principal Managing Broker at Coldwell Banker Bain's Capitol Hill office and its West Seattle satellite, embodies transformational leadership. When Todd took the helm in January 2020, he infused the office with creativity, energy, true team spirit, and his eye for collaborative design. Todd's ability to engage his team and galvanize a sense of family shines as a model to uplift any business environment.

Selling real estate has been Todd's full-time career since 2002; but houses and the idea of what makes a home have been a lifelong passion. As a young boy in southern Idaho, he used to spend hours exploring new homes being built nearby, read real estate advertising magazines front to back, and study architectural renderings in books for hours (translation: house nerd)!

One spring day in 2002, Todd had an unexpected moment where he thought, "Whatever happened to that dream of real estate?" That July, he quit his job, acquired his real estate license, and walked into his new office at Coldwell Banker Bain on Lake Union. The time since has been a whirlwind of growth, adaptation, market forces, challenges, and successes. July 2022 will mark Todd's 20th year at Coldwell Banker Bain.

Established in the late 80's, Capitol Hill became the company's third major office. The area is also one of Seattle's oldest, largest and most diverse neighborhoods: A magnet for students, urban professionals, artists, and families. When Todd took over as PMB of Capitol Hill in January 2020, he became a unifying leader to make the office a collaborative hub with a defined identity. When looking at the key elements of what retains a team, Todd knew he had the ability to directly affect one important retention component: culture.

In his first week, just as a pandemic quietly began to percolate, he gave a presentation to share his leadership style and to foster a place where everyone would feel safe, respected, and heard. His presentation included five guiding principles for positive outcomes through intentional behaviors:

  • Lead with Service
  • Be a Compassionate Advocate
  • See the Person Behind the Personality
  • Nurture Trust Through Trust
  • Seek an Outcome that Benefits All Involved

He had no idea at that moment how critical his inclusive voice and cohesive efforts would become to shine as a beacon in uncertain times.

Next, Todd set about refreshing the space with new paint, furnishings, and replacing cubicles with comfy chairs and tables; audibly resetting the mood by playing in Motown or upbeat music in the background; and brushing the office with a modern sensibility (even offering an all-gender bathroom) that attracted people and instilled sense of workplace pride.

"To me, the esthetic experience reflects the office's personality," Todd said, adding staff partners were moved out of offices and into public spaces to better build relationships. With service elements focused toward the brokers, interaction and teamwork soared. Weekly meetings afforded time for partners to get to know each other.  Everyone in his office was given the agency to be decision-makers and to offer input on major decisions.

Todd has always been quick to spring for wine and pizza, but fun also happened early on when the staff participated in a "Dry January" together organizing various alcohol-free events throughout the month. Extending that spirit, the Capitol Hill office WHY became: To support and elevate one another so that its community can thrive. They even created buttons for the 2021 company-wide event with this mantra: "Support. Elevate. Thrive."

The team launched its own private Facebook page for brokers and partners to stay in communication. Timed with the onset of the pandemic, the group found it to be a lifeline. During the pandemic, Todd engaged in regular weekly memo-writing with formal health and safety protocols for open houses and other pandemic real estate do's and don'ts. His tough positions on safety may not have been the easiest or most popular, but the clear communication worked.

The office also started an Impact NOW Fund during the shutdown that resulted in a $10,000 kitty, which offered no-question-asked stipends to any brokers in need of help with rent, a car payment, or utilities.

When Capitol Hill hit the national media spotlight during the tumultuous BLM protests, the office did not close, but embraced BLM and its tough conversations. It printed, displayed, and distributed BLM posters and raised $33,000 for Byrd Barr Place to support families in the neighboring Central District. A Black Lives Matter Facebook page was started for important conversations; Black Lives in real estate continues to be relevant.

Today, 60 engaged, team-oriented brokers share the thriving Capitol Hill office. Additionally, Todd and team are building out a new 6,000 sq. ft. flagship office in the Pike/Pine corridor to open Q1 2022. Todd's example demonstrates how one person's energy, creativity and generosity can create a thriving workplace with a connected and purposeful team. Bravo!


Coldwell Banker Bain is proud to announce its Longview office recently donated $41,500 to Special Olympics Washington. Principal Managing Broker Kevin Stonelake and Broker Denny Shanahan at Coldwell Banker Bain Longview host an annual golf tournament to benefit Special Olympics Washington. In its third year, the event was held at Club Green Meadows in Vancouver, Wash. on September 10th and raised $41,500 – well above this year's $25,000 goal. The event was attended by Special Olympic athletes and logged 112 participants overall. It enjoyed significant support from Coldwell Banker Bain brokers and staff, including a number of large donations and sponsorships from fellow Coldwell Banker Bain managers.  

Denny Shanahan (right) and Kevin Stonelake, PMB of CB Bain Longview (left), present Barry Gill (center) with Special Olympics a check for $41,500.


Seattle-raised Beth Toomey appreciates the unique flavor of her city's many different neighborhoods and knows them well. A year spent in France fueled her love of architecture, eventually sparking her foray into real estate after a 20-year career in sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies. Beth's second act flourished; her professional credentials and loyal Seattle and Eastside clientele grew impressively.

beth toomey KBICrossing boundaries and leading with empathy are the ties that continuously bind Beth's personal and professional pursuits. Few know that Beth was elected to the national Alumni Board for the University of Notre Dame and, two years later, served as its President (the first woman to hold that position – despite the University having been co-ed for 25 years by that time!) and a two-year term on its Board of Trustees. She's also rightfully proud to have helped start Notre Dame's women's soccer program. But Beth's passion to serve has gone well beyond the Blue and Gold; it extends all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Two years ago, Beth had an opportunity to learn firsthand about the situation at the border through St. Joseph's Church on Capitol Hill, a Jesuit parish where she attended grade school and church for most of her adult life.  When she learned she could participate in a Kino Border Initiative (KBI) delegation at the Nogales, Arizona/Mexican border in the fall of 2019, Beth jumped at it. She was so compelled by her first KBI experience, she will be leading another delegation this coming November.

"It was a transformational experience to work with these beautiful families, as they were stuck in limbo at the border waiting for their turn to seek asylum or refugee status. It was powerful," she said. "Hearing the brutal stories was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life; so many of the men either disappear or are killed if they do not obey the cartels. One wants to think these are stories out of a Tom Clancy book, but this is their reality."

The Kino Border Initiative is a binational organization that works in migration and is located in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The KBI's vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.  The goals of the trip are to:

  • Humanize - listen to firsthand stories and experiences, and recognize the dignity of each individual,
  • Accompany - immerse oneself by being present in the migrant experience, e.g., conversing with deported migrants, walking the desert, seeing the federal courthouse,
  • Complicate – appreciate the nuances, complexities, and many different puzzle pieces of migration and the border (without making definitive conclusions).

KINO serves two meals a day at its kitchen hub, the "Comedor," where migrant families wait patiently for meals in a long line that snakes around the block. Beth explained that delegation members take shifts either outside playing with the children, or inside serving meals.

"The children are clean, mostly happy and eager to learn; I spent hours with picture books, pointing to pictures and the kids would shout out the names of animals in Spanish," Beth said. "A young Mom sat down to listen and pointed at the picture asking for the animal's name in English, and from that, impromptu English lessons began on the curb."

Beth was deeply moved by the KBI immersive experiences: Touring a safe house, watching courtroom proceedings, seeing masses of shackled men being deported back to Mexico, and hearing firsthand border stories from ranchers and migrant conversations. KBI participants also took a desert hike that replicated the trail that desperate refugees traverse while trying to get to America.                                                   

Through Beth's own volunteerism, she lends a voice to this organization and to all of the courageous people who are fleeing violence, persecution and seeking better lives for their families in America, hoping to one day also call this country home. She also appreciates what it means to establish a home from an entirely different perspective.

Login to My Homefinder

Login to My Homefinder