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November
11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October
17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rachael team

August
19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July
27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://bethniemorrison.coldwellbankerbain.com/

July
21

In early June, both Redfin and Compass announced employee layoffs as a result of rising interest rates and falling consumer demand – and it's only the most recent shift in this market. Mortgage and Title companies have also been downsizing their overhead and laying off employees throughout the spring. Included in these recent layoffs is Compass' Modus Title Company. And to add fuel to the fire is the fact that consumer sentiment is at the same level as it was during the Great Recession.

Consumer sentiment is something all of us need to watch. Both in people's purchasing power and in their willingness to invest in real estate in an increasingly unaffordable market. Technically, the real estate market is in a much healthier place than it was leading up to the Great Recession. Buyers have more equity in their homes and more stable financial environments. But startled consumers can quickly crash the market. And without a doubt, Redfin's economist, Daryl Fairweather, is probably seeing this in real life. Ms. Fairweather is one of the leading economists in the real estate industry. In much of her early work she studied what led people to go into foreclosure during the Great Recession.

Meanwhile traditional brokerages like Coldwell Banker Bain and a few others have many legacy brokers and managers who were actively working during the Great Recession. They understand a pivot is coming and are prepped to support their brokers through the process. These traditional brokerages already have tried and true structures to support them in a shifting market. But there is a risk in naively assuming that this recession will be like the last one.

One model to weather a shift in the real estate market is to better understand how Coldwell Banker Bain's Capitol Hill office remained in the black throughout the Great Recession. They had a group of brokers who had both old school negotiation skills and the capacity to adapt to new technologies. The management team also maintained staffing and retained the bulk of their brokers throughout the recession. It is much easier to go fast when a market turns positive and you are fully staffed. Thankfully, many of these brokers and managers are still in the business making the ability to manage this shift easier.

More traditional real estate brokerages also practice old school client relationships. Something that many disruptors in the real estate industry didn't fully grasp is the client experience AFTER they bought a home. During times of uncertainty consumers want to know you are a place of resources and stability.

Meanwhile the layoffs at Redfin are having an immediate impact and interrupting clients' buying and selling transactions. Coldwell Banker Bain Broker Kim V. Colaprete was recently  interviewed on King 5 news about the real estate shift. Right after her interview she received a call from a Redfin broker who is representing a buyer on one of her listings. The broker called her to let her know she had been laid off and didn't know who would be taking over for the transaction. Going back to consumer confidence levels means that a client can and will worry about a sudden shift in their transaction. Interruptions like this have a huge impact on the clients as they go through the very stressful experience of buying a home.

Redfin's brokers are employees and not contract workers like legacy real estate firms. Not only are these layoffs impacting the clients they will also leave a large gap in the skill set of these brokers. It is in shifting markets that you learn negotiation skills to help you better represent your clients. Missing out on this moment means you are not built for the "next" market. That leaves you as a broker with a skill set that only works in a multiple offer market.

There are opportunities in a shifting market. Anne Jones, owner of Windermere Abode is currently opening a new office. Anne noted that "People need help navigating this market more than ever - and I think having a Realtor who will get in the trenches with them matters. But knowing your market, having people who will answer your calls (vendors, lenders, appraisers and other Realtors) is critical." And from a tech development perspective, who will develop that transformative tech that helped many real estate brokers during the Great Recession? DocuSign and Dropbox are two companies that seem old school now, but were game changers when they came out in the real estate industry.

 

 

Chavi M. Hohm is a broker and team lead at Team Diva Real Estate with Coldwell Banker Bain. Team Diva is a top producing Seattle real estate team who is known for advocating for diversity and inclusion in the real estate industry. Over the years Team Diva has been recognized as one of the most innovative real estate marketing organizations by Inman News and is often a speaker at various real estate events. Chavi's great passion is mentoring the next generation of real estate brokers who come from a diverse background. In her free time you will often find Chavi taking long dog walks with her rescue dogs, hanging out at shows with her wife Kim, and spending time thrifting with her teenage nephew that Kim and her are raising.

May
18

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.

April
20

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

February
16

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.

January
18

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."

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