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DAVID COOK Photo Courtesy of Ryan Fiedler









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Top Agent Tips and Questions for Choosing Your Listing Agent Now that you’ve decided to sell, it’s time to select the professional to help you market your property. Before meeting with agents, however, consider Top Agent Magazine’s tips for preparing yourself. Frist, ask yourself what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your listing agent. Are you seeking a casual, personable relationship and the latest marketing tools or are you interested in a more formal, traditional relationship and approach to marketing techniques? Next, populate your list of agents by attending open houses and asking for recommendations from recent buyers and sellers. Finally, schedule your meetings at your home, where you’ll be able to gauge the chemistry between you and each agent. During your meetings, expect any Top Agent to ask you several questions, but also consider discussing the following: 4

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Will you please describe your sales experience and local network?

Ask your Top Agent to describe recent listings and sales of homes comparable to your own. Ask about the sellers’ priorities, the original list price, market time and number of offers. Top Agents will also describe how well they are connected with other REALTORS® in the region as well as their contacts with relocation companies, local corporations and chambers of commerce. Be sure to ask about each agent’s knowledge of how your market has changed over time and what has influenced change.

You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’ opinions.

How will you market the property? Each

Top Agent has a unique set of online or local marketing tools at his or her disposal. Some use lead-generation applications and nearly ever luxury agent take advantage of video. Even video marketing tools vary from agent-to-agent, however. You’ll get to decide if you prefer an agent with higher-end video production and 3D Matterport tours or an agent with more intimate techniques featuring walk-and-talk style video tours. What factors influence your list-price recommendation? Before an-

swering this question, most Top Agents will have several questions for you, including whether you’re more focused on a faster sale or a higher list price. They’ll also educate you on how best to balance both market time and list price relative to sales histories your area. Now that you’ve seen the home, what repairs or improvements do you recommend before listing? You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’

opinions on your home’s sale potential with or without some improvements. Most Top Agents will also recommend a full professional inspection prior to listing to avoid surprises during buyer inspection.

How will you help with staging? Some Top Agents will pay for part or

all of the staging costs. At a minimum, however, a Top Agent will have a staging professional or two in their partner network. While they’re at it, they may provide referrals for carpet cleaning, painting, gardening and other minor finishing touches. Top Agent Magazine


What attributes of the property will you want to highlight? Each Top

Agent will have a somewhat different answer to this question, but that’s a good thing! Even if you have your own ideas about your home’s greatest attributes, you’ll glean insight into the current market by considering different agents’ opinions. In learning their views, you may even change your mind about your home’s most marketable features!

What is your approach to Open Houses? How many agent-only Open

Houses will your Top Agent want to host? How many truly Open Houses? Some Top Agents may even reveal a “swankier” approach to the Open House – such as an evening cocktail party or by-invitation “open” hours to which buyers visit along with the agent representing them.

Who will be our primary point(s) of contact from your office? This

important question will help you understand the scope of your agent’s practice. You’ll get to see if your agent runs a robust team with many hands on deck or if he or she works by close, one-on-one contact with each client. Either approach is wonderful; you get to decide what suits you. Now, let’s list! 6

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DAVID COOK Top Agent Magazine

7 Photo Courtesy of Ryan Fiedler

“Real estate is a people business. It’s driven by one-on-one, interpersonal relations, trust and referrals.�


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Fiedler

About 30 miles east of Seattle, in scenic Snoqualmie Valley near the Cascade Mountains, sits a grouping of small towns that provide oasis lifestyles within commute distance of the city. There, one real estate broker has defied all odds through entrepreneurship, innovation and top-notch customer service while providing an ideal work environment for his loyal agents. David Cook is celebrating 13 years of continued growth with Cook Real Estate in the North Bend, WA. The market is one in which David blazed new trails for small-town real estate, embracing unparalleled use of technology and marketing to position his agents and clients for success. 8 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

Ingenuity and hard work pave the way for David, a lifelong entrepreneur whose profitable ventures have included janitorial businesses serving office spaces in Illinois and Seattle. About a decade after he and his wife moved to Seattle from Illinois, David sold his janitorial business to enter property management and commercial real estate. But when his employer was acquired was by a real estate syndicate with waning interest in the commercial side, David summoned enterprise creativity. Having noticed the gravely underserved commercial spaces around North Bend, he formed Cook Real Estate Services to provide solutions for Top Agent Magazine

Left to Right: Scott Holz, Debi Hill, David Cook, Karin Ayling, Karin Simpson, Kathy White of Graystone Mortgage, Brian Davis, Regina Bronner and Brad Toft of Graystone Mortgage

property owners, buyers and REALTORS®. “We put signs everywhere for commercial leasing, but I quickly learned you can’t make it in leasing and added residential sales,” he says, noting that his abundant commercial signage helped him secure a competing presence. From 2003 through 2006, the firm enjoyed the “bubble” years with both residential and commercial transactions. Buoyed, David sought a brick-and-mortar office presence and purchased a historic site built for a bank in the 1920s. “It had recently been a Bavarian-themed Chinese restaurant,” he said of the building on a prime corner in North Bend. With purchase, rehab and refinance loans, David rebuilt the structure, replicating Top Agent Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Michael Martin

its original architectural integrity over two years that marked yet another new phase for his career. “I thought the flood gates would open when we finished construction in 2007,” he says. But all REALTORS® know what happened from 2007-2011. “Instead, it was the start of a seven-year survival journey,” David says with a light laugh. Back then, his competition consisted of two large franchises with 120 agents between them. David later learned those offices didn’t feel the least bit threatened by him. But had they learned from David’s unconventional approaches to real estate, those offices might have survived intact. “My smaller, boutique model with low overhead became a winning formula,” Copyright Top Agent Magazine9

Photo Courtesy of Michael Martin

he says. “We survived by diversifying. As things turned around, we roared back.” Diversification included David’s willingness to embrace short sales, increase commercial work, delve into rentals and allow agents to discount commissions. “We became a full-service, discount real estate company without compromising our service,” he says. “We still allow agents to set their own commission when they need to.” His seven agents have remained with David for many years. There are times, says David, that revised commission structures benefit both the agent and the client. “Our services are so good and our marketing and education are so top-of-the-line that I could actually charge more than other agencies,” he says. “But real estate is a people business. It’s driven by one-on-one, interpersonal relations, trust and referrals.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine 10

Service, attention to people’s needs and cutting-edge listings marketing have allowed Cook Real Estate to survive and thrive. They spare no expense, using professional photography, drone videography, websites and social media exposure, plus manually-entered online listings and targeted print advertising. Willingness to diversify and innovate continues to ignite the company’s growth. “I’ve never subscribed to the idea that agents have to specialize,” says David. “I’ve helped companies find cell tower sites; rented apartments to people coming out of short sales; and helped production companies find filming locations.” By positioning Cook Real Estate as the go-to discount brokerage with unmatched service, David attracts ongoing referrals while giving his agents flexibility to prosper. Top Agent Magazine

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Photo Courtesy of Mary Miller

And then there’s that restored historic office building. Among the many production companies he has helped, David recently welcomed producers from Showtime’s revival of the 1990s program, “Twin Peaks,” who filmed scenes in David’s building and personal office. “I wanted to clean up the organized

chaos of paperwork in my office, but they said ‘Don’t touch a thing!’” Next year, “Twin Peaks” will feature David’s children’s photos in the background of certain scenes. It’s a poetic coincidence for a man whose family, of course, holds far greater importance to him than his remarkable success.

To learn more about David Cook, visit, email or call 425.888.7774 www.

Copyright Top Agent Magazine 12

Top Agent Magazine

Be Their REALTOR for Life: ®

How to Build a Relationship with Your Clients That Will Last a Lifetime In the world of real estate, an agent’s relationship with their clients can make or break their career. This industry revolves around working well with people, and being able to develop a strong relationship with your clients is the foundation that you business is based upon. Just like with a house, if that foundation is weak, the rest of the structure is also going to be unsteady and fragile. The mark of a good REALTOR® is their ability to build up a good referral network and following of loyal clients. This isn’t something that just happens by accident. Building healthy, strong relationships with your clients takes work and knowing how to gain another person’s trust, respect, and friendship. Here are some ways to make sure you are building the right kind of relationship with your clients. Top Agent Magazine

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1. Use Your Friendliness and Optimism to Win Them Over: No one wants a pushy, overly confident salesperson for a REALTOR®. Clients are much more inclined to put their trust in the hands of someone who is friendly when it comes to one of the biggest financial transactions of their lives. A pleasant, outgoing disposition will win you more clients as well as friends. You want to establish rapport in the first few minutes of first meeting prospective clients. Rather than starting with business right off the bat, begin your meeting with some small talk such as similar interests, hobbies, and family life. This will immediately help to put your clients at ease, and show that you are not simply trying to “sell” them something. People also respond well to optimism. During what can be a very stressful time, clients need someone to help them stay positive when a situation looks difficult and challenging. Optimism also tends to radiate charisma, and people want to be around and do business with charismatic people. You want to learn how to understand, motivate, and inspire people.

2. Be an Inquisitive Learner and an Empathetic Listener:

out any potential concerns they might have. After you’ve gained as much information as possible, you can then gauge their interest in your possible solutions by asking “what if” questions. Being inquisitive also demonstrates to your clients that you are genuinely interested and invested in their situation. On the other side of this coin is knowing how to listen empathetically. Empathy involves actually putting yourself or your mind in their shoes so you can genuinely understand their concerns, needs, and opinions. That understanding and empathy is then reflected in your conversation with that client. Your clients want to know that you care about their situation, and that they’re not just another sale for you to make. People are much more willing to put their trust in you when they can sense that you are actually making an effort to feel what they feel in order to understand their situation. Showing your interest through questions, and then thoughtfully listening goes a long way towards gaining trust. Showing empathy and acknowledging the feelings and emotions involved in your clients situation helps build a relationship founded on genuine care and trust.

3. Watch for Nonverbal Clues:

Don’t be afraid to show your curiosity and ask your clients a lot of questions. Some of these questions may even be difficult and uncomfortable. You want to discover and learn as much as you can about your client. Don’t make the mistake of jumping straight into the role of the know-it-all. Every different client has unique needs, so you want to learn as much as you can about their specific situation before trying to propose a solution. You want to uncover their primary motive for buying or selling, and flush

Most communication happens nonverbally, so knowing how to interpret your client’s body language can be incredibly helpful. Here are a few things to pay special attention to: Eye contact: Be careful with the level of eye contact you use with clients when first meeting. Too much and too little eye contact can send the wrong impression. You want to try and maintain eye contact around 70 percent of the time. That is the amount that most people are comfortable with. Pay attention to your client’s level of eye


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contact to determine how comfortable they are. When someone avoids eye contact that could mean they are not engaged in the conversation. A good way to quickly build a feeling of rapport when first meeting clients is to make eye contact when you first meet them and then start nodding yes to what they’re saying. If the client reciprocates the eye contact and nodding, you’ve established a connection.

4. Prove your honesty and credibility:

Choose the right handshake for each client: One handshake does not fit all people, and that first handshake can be crucial to making a good first impression. The way to do a good handshake for each client is to try and mirror the other person’s handshake in strength, keep your shoulders aligned as you are preferably standing when you shake hands. While you shake your client’s hand make sure you make eye contact and give them a sincere smile.

Showing a little weakness can actually be to your advantage in this situation, and will actually make others more inclined view you as honest. You don’t want to come across as too good to be true. When revealing this weakness, however, the key to coming out on top is turning what sounds like a weakness into a strength. For example, your service may be more expensive, but that’s because you offer more personalized and extra services than your competitors.

Honesty and integrity are the two traits that 98 percent of buyers and sellers report are qualities they consider “very important”. The thing is you can say you have these traits all you want on your website, bio, etc., but trust has to be earned, and the only way to do this is to prove your credibility.

Here are a few tips for how to sound more credible:

When you talk to your clients avoid using filler words such as “um” and “uh”, which can decrease your credibility. You also want to watch the tone of your voice. People tend to translate a deeper tone as sounding more credible.

You want to develop a relationship to last a lifetime when interacting with your clients. There are many things you can do to accomplish this, and using these tips can take you from getting just a few referrals and repeat customers to gaining a loyal client following. Taking the little extra time to make sure you are projecting the right attitude and making sure that you are doing things to gain your client’s trust can make a world of difference for your business. Top Agent Magazine

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COLLEEN DUTMERS With a team slogan that is “let’s party our way to the top,” Collen Dutmers of Keller Williams Realty Puyallup is just the agent you want to work with. Not only does her entire team make the whole real estate process fun for the client, they even hold a party when the transaction has been completed to celebrate the sale. “Our team is focused on having fun,” says Dutmers. “We have fun with our clients and after the transaction, we bring them into the fold. We have parties and we include them. We’re just a warm relational based team.” It is this fun family attitude of Dutmers and her team that has 85 percent of their clients as repeat and referral business in the Pierce County market of Washington she serves. “They trust us and know we have their best interest at heart,” she says. “We definitely put their interest first. We don’t just sell a house – we sell a home.” Through this caring nature The Dutmers Team provide the ultimate in customer services to their clients with responsive follow-up and follow through every step of the way in the buying and selling process. This has helped get the team to a 100 transactions a year, a number that Dutmers is looking to double in the next few years. Dutmers and her team are an active bunch that really lives up to their party spirit. They are always doing something for their clients whether it’s giving pies out at Thanksgiving or hosting a pumpkin carving contest for Halloween. They even take their clients on an annual sailing event on a 90-ft. schooner as a thank you for their business each year. It is these small things that her clients remember and has helped her develop what she calls her agent hit list of people she has done business with over her 18-year career. This list proves to be invaluable as Dutmers is able to market her properties to them as well as a database she has developed, giving her an edge in the business. Over the 18 years that Dutmers has been in the real estate industry, she draws on the fact that no two days are the same and it is this constant variety that motivates her each day. “I love the people and diversity in what I do,” she says. “No two transactions are the same. I like being challenged and finding solutions. I rarely have a deal that crashes and burns because we will find the solution to make it work.” This Top Agent Magazine

tenacity is what her clients love about her, giving her tons of testimonials that attest to their positive experience working with her and her team. “They communicate that very well to us,” says Dutmers. “We have more testimonials than we know what to do with that say how much they love working with us.” Her tenacity extends to her owning her own franchise since 2003 too. The kind nature of Dutmers extends beyond just her real estate business as she also takes the time to be involved in her community through the Puyallup Food Bank and Commencement Bay Women’s Group that is working with a teen shelter in Pierce County. She is also a member of the Women’s Sailing Association – a hobby she loves and has been doing since she was 9 years old. Dutmers also enjoys entertaining at her home with friends and family as well as being outdoors whenever she can whether its skiing and snowshoeing in the winter or sailing in the summer.

For more information about Collen Dutmers, visit, call 253-209-3900, email www.

Copyright Top Agent Magazine 17

Try vs Do By Barry Eisen

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda (1977) The day is done. It seems you’ve done a million things. Everything went well. You had loads of energy and you’re stoked. Clients listened to you and acknowledged the clarity and wisdom of your suggestions. Your kids paid attention. Even the dog obeyed. Great feelings! Dawns a new day... You wake up groggy, you become a magnet for clients’ frustrations, you feel invisible, the dog spits up on the thick white rug, an associate points out a huge stain on your shirt, a selling appointment cancels and it’s not even 10:00 AM. Know what you are? Normal. Look around and you will find a lot of normal. Stuff happens to us all. To some, who seem to attract more stuff than the rest (something to be said about selffulfilling prophecies) the distractions feel overwhelming and continuous. Some try their best to turn the tide. Trying doesn’t work. Doing does. Effort is appreciated, but accomplishment creates the lifestyle and is a lot more satisfying. 18

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We use the word often and teach our kids to try hard. Think of what the concept of “trying” implies. We are telling ourselves to make the effort. But how often do we confuse effort and activity with accomplishment? Is it not our egos protecting ourselves from the perceived agony of failure by don’t have to do what it takes, just appreciate the effort. It’s kinda like the controversy raging on today about all kids getting trophies for participating in a competition, even if they came in last place. Maybe rewards for the little ones keep them engaged, but the reality of life for most adults is about accomplishing, not efforting.

Some try their best to turn the tide. One of the surest ways to become a victim is to try. Trying doesn’t When we commit to trying something and fall short work. Doing oftoadosuccess, we can always claim “ I tried.” Even in failure does. we can claim victory as we achieved what we committed to... I tried! Be careful of the words you use as they become converted into action. As in sports, good effort is appreciated, but the ones who want it more generally prevail. They call it Scoreboard.

The “doer” is the person who takes the bigger risk of making the extra effort. Without the risk to continue and create a victory, you create “normal.” It’s safe but unsatisfying. And worse yet, this settling for the lazy way out develops into whining, excuse making, low energy, irritability and much more. Do what’s right, not what’s easy. The best of your intentions won’t create a better relationship, clean up the planet or make you more money. Top Agent Magazine


7 DO’s to make a difference:

1 2

Leave every part of your day with a positive accomplishment (even a small one).

In every endeavor, act AS IF you were already successful and capable. Show yourself what you CAN DO.


Do what’s right, not what’s easy.

Read or listen to positive books or recordings at least 30 minutes each day-spend as much time with personal development as you do growing your business. Look for and apply the lessons that feel right.


Write out your to-do list every night before you go to sleep, whether you feel like it or not and prioritize it. Let it guide you to better decisions during your day.


Create a Value Added mindset that allows you to under promise and over deliver. That unexpected extra personal touch, that personalized attention, that piece of humanity, the extra door you knock, the thank you, please, your welcome can put you over the top. It is usually the little things that make a difference.


Develop strong enough “whys” and the “hows” answer themselves. Dig deeper than just an amount of money. Money doesn’t motivate. Figure out what moves you and your focus will become laser-like.


Follow through and do it not because you “have to,” but because you “get to.” Play, have fun, lighten up and shine. Barry Eisen teaches personal development seminars and coaches Southern California top producing REALTORS®. “Your business will never grow more than you do” is the theme; self hypnosis and behavior modification are the tools for playing a bigger game., Copyright©, 2016 Barry Eisen. All rights reserved. 818-769-4300


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Are you missing out on new homes?

By Bob Corcoran

I like to think of myself as a positive person – I always work to have good news for those around me. Today is no different – I come bearing good news for agents and brokers: Housing starts are on fire and that’s super news for RealToRs® who know how to work with builders to get those new homes sold. First, the numbers: after a lethargic winter, housing starts have jumped a massive 20.2 percent in april, the biggest bump recorded since February 1991. Housing starts came in at a 1.14

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million annualized rates, up from a 944,000 pace in March, the highest it has been in 7 years, the Commerce Department reported in May. Plus, we saw more permits – a measuring stick for future construction – issued in april than at any time since June 2008. Total permits rose 10.1% to 1.143 million units, the highest since December 2007. single-family permits were up 3.7% from March to 666,000 and multifamily permits totaled 477,000 the highest since april 2006. 21

I agree with many analysts who say this new home construction will help bring needed balance and aid buyers looking for a home this year – including trade-up buyers to first-timers.

Do you have a plan to network more with home builders? If not, why not? So let’s get right to it: Why should you consider selling new homes? one good reason is you can save a lot of time. When a RealToR® puts a qualified buyer in front of a builder who has a sales center, the builder’s sales agent will often do most of the leg work of discovery, demonstration, selection and closing.


They frequently handle paperwork, collect deposits and even arrange financing. That’s serious time savings. Another benefit? Builders can be a source of new listings for RealToRs®. Builders are often presented with a sales contract contingent on the sale of the buyer’s existing home. Not a bad arrangement, huh? so how can you take advantage of this new inventory and sell more homes in 2015? Here are three tips to help you get your share in the new homes market: • Understand the landscape and language. Yes, builders, like any other profession, have their own jargon – when you can speak it you show builders you’re a pro who has the knowhow to sell the homes. That boosts your credibility with builders and potential buyers. Take time to understand the building process from the inside out – literally, so you can explain what goes on in the walls, electric and plumbing systems, for example. You might even consider the Master in Residential Marketing program offered by the National Top Agent Magazine

they position their homes in the marketplace and their specific benefits to buyers. Share how you can work with the in-house salesperson, if there is one. • Understand what you bring to the table. You not only bring more buyers to builders, you save builders money by marketing their homes. It’s your marketing that finds the buyers, and that makes the cost of working with a RealToR® even more appealing to builders. Plus, you also act as a marketing advisor because you know what’s selling. Association of Home Builders through your local home builders association. It’s tailored specifically for RealToRs®.

Tell me what you’re thinking. Are you seeing new home construction in your area? If so, what can you start doing to tap into that market? Do you have a plan to network more with home builders? If not, why not? Please send any comments or questions you have to article@ or www.

• Make the connection. Once you understand the lingo and the process, call the builder and make an appointment with either the builder or the sales manager at their model, showroom or office. Then listen and learn how you can work with Copyright©, 2015 Bob Corcoran. builders – what their needs are, how All rights reserved. Bob Corcoran is CEO of Corcoran Consulting and Coaching Inc. (www.corcorancoaching. com/programs, 800-957-8353), an international consulting and coaching company that specializes in performance coaching and the implementation of sound business systems into Real Estate Companies, Mortgage Companies and Small Businesses. Corcoran Consulting is headed by Bob Corcoran -- a nationally recognized leader, speaker, author, coach and consultant. To find out more about Corcoran Consulting & Coaching, call 1-800-957-8353 or visit us at Top Agent Magazine



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Washington 1-2-17  

Washington 1-2-17