This month marks my 20th year in the real estate business. Records show that I received my license on April 10, 2002.
This calls for a celebration. It also calls for several thank-yous. First, thanks to my wife, who knows me better than anyone else. She was at my side for 26 years through the highs and lows of my first career until the sudden end. Now add to that another 20 years. You do the math.
Numbers, that is dollars, come to mind when I think of the early years. Back then, it was the backing from my father-in-law that bridged the gaps here and there. Heavenly thanks, Alec!
Brick and Mortar Friends and Events
My following thank-you goes to my dear friend Bob whom I met at the junction of my former career and the new one. He helped me with some freelance work in the former and introduced me to the Northwest and the world of classic car collectors. As a native, his knowledge of the local history, current events, and geography directed my work in many circumstances. Before online navigation at my fingertips, he was the best GPS around.
Real estate: a Business of Connections and Trust.
Upon arriving in Seattle, we joined a church in Kirkland. My first real estate business came through that connection. Three members of the church entrusted me with the sale of their homes. The church not only helped me with my fledgling real estate business but with the transition from one career to another. I can trace my eventual success from day one to today to that church.
I also became a member of the Kirkland Eclectics, a Toastmasters International club. There, I honed my public speaking skills. The club members hailed from different countries with a variety of professions. I did not join as a real estate agent but as Gerhard Ade. Whatever business resulted from my attendance developed naturally through relationships based on trust.
Online Real Estate
Missing initially local connections, I turned to my secret weapon – the World Wide Web. Long before Search Engine Optimization became a business, I was a master at SEO without knowing it. My online experience dating back to 1995 produced results almost immediately. I repurposed my existing website for real estate. As a result, I ranked within days on page one on Alta Vista and Google, the new kid on the block.
This online success was the first indication that I could leverage the knowledge and skills of my first career in real estate. It took me a few years to appreciate that this leverage would pay off most on the listing side of the business.
One Recommendation can Make a Difference in the Real Estate Business.
The business of real estate is super competitive. Some agents pay thousands of dollars a month to lead generation companies with varying degrees of success. Those who succeed that way practice the churn and burn model, where results are more important than relationships. I am not morally superior to these “rock stars” but temperamentally unsuited. My transactions grew slowly through recommendations and repeat business.
One particular recommendation from a mortgage broker resulted in several transactions and substantial income – thank you, Jason! To be exact, I gained several new clients, completed a dozen transactions, and continue to benefit from current and future business.
One of these recommendations paved my entry into the lofty luxury listing market. The 2021 six-million dollar Bellevue listing was the highlight of my career to date. I owe this success to the trust and growing friendship with my client. Together with the same architect, builder, and interior designer, he and I are working on our next project.
All in the Family
If you have sensed that I work for friends and the majority of my clients become my friends, you are correct. These friends are sometimes growing families. Other times they are family relations like father and son or in-laws. I had the privilege to help grandparents to downsize, and millennials buy their first homes. When you do a good job, the rewards are lasting. Some clients become like family when they trust you to take care of business because they can’t be there in person.
All over the Place
After growing up in Germany and Switzerland, Seattle is the sixth North American city for me. This mobility matches my clients from India, Australia, China, Russia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, England, Lebanon, France, Uzbekistan, and Germany.
The geographic range of my transactions includes Port Angeles and Quilcene on the Olympic Peninsula, stretches north to south from Mount Vernon and Camano Island, to Everett, Mill Creek, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Seattle, Renton, and Fife, and on the Eastside includes Sammamish, Issaquah, Redmond, Newcastle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Bothell, and Woodinville.
I took many field trips, one of them with a client from Germany. He bought acreage on the Peninsula and we became good friends. I visited him and his wife in Germany twice and they stayed with us in Kirkland. Real estate may not have made me rich, but it has enriched my life.
Thanks to my Part-Time Colleagues in the Real Estate Business
To take a real estate transaction from the mutual agreement to closing takes a lot of people. There are the mortgage lenders, with assistants, underwriters, and appraisers, the title companies with a team of at least three and the same on the escrow side, and the agent and brokerage on the other side of each transaction, and, not to forget, the general and specialist inspectors, and local and state authorities. I tip my hat to them for every transaction I closed over the past twenty years.
Last but not least
I could not have succeeded without the help of all the individuals I named above, and I apologize to all that I did not mention. Two people have been a constant part of my business for some time. On the listing side, I say thanks to my staging expert, Nicol Boettner, and on the buying side to Chris Butaud, who has become the mortgage expert of choice for my purchase transactions.
Finally, there is Walter Powers, my right-hand man. He wears more hats than I can count. He is my sounding board, social media poster, website content manager, newsletter publisher, and spreadsheet expert. He is also officially authorized to act as my unlicensed real estate assistant. He proofreads almost everything I write and publish. However, if you find any mistakes in this newsletter, blame me.
To stay in touch with me through the next twenty years, subscribe to my newsletter.
Published originally as the 135th issue of The View from the Street.