Kevin and Hannah spent 2007 in Nicaragua. They did development work there, something they had wanted to do since college. They worked closely with communities there, and in those communities, they observed roots. Families who had lived in the same town for generations, and homes that held grandparents and parents and children. Seeing those roots made the couple realize that they wanted a rooted feeling of their own. They felt the need to immerse themselves in a community where they could stay and settle. They would still help others—I don’t think Kevin or Hannah could ever stop helping—but they would do it in a place they could call home.
After a year in Nicaragua, Kevin and Hannah moved to Seattle. Hannah had grown up in Bremerton, and the combination of nearby family and available nonprofit work drew them to the Emerald City. They found a rental house and they found jobs: Kevin working with immigrants; Hannah, with domestic violence.
But renting implies temporariness. Kevin and Hannah liked their rental, and they liked their landlord, and they liked their location, but they still felt the urge to settle somewhere. To buy a place of their own and dig their roots deep. On and off for four years, taking a break when Hannah went to grad school, they kept looking for a house that they could buy.
But they conducted much of their without a real estate agent, and nothing worked out. It took too much time and energy to contact sellers, schedule showings, and make official offers, especially when both Kevin and Hannah had jobs, and especially after they had their baby. They could not negotiate well, either. Neither one knew much about real estate, and as self-described introverts, they could not talk to a seller and advocate effectively for themselves.
After the baby came into the picture, the desire for a permanent house intensified. Then one of Kevin’s friends bought a house in North Beacon Hill with help from a real estate agent.
“I don’t know how they got it,” Kevin said. “It was a super competitive place with great views, on top of an already competitive market. My friend just said his agent was a bulldog at negotiation, and that sounded good to us.”
That was how we met Kevin and Hannah.
“Once Johnine learned we both worked for nonprofits,” Hannah said, “she really took up our cause. It felt like Johnine and Scott were personally invested in us.”
The search proceeded at a pace that felt comfortable for Kevin and Hannah. It was slow, but the pair had other things on their plate, they did not need to move imminently, and they wanted to be involved in this process as much as possible, because they were picking a place to set down roots. It was a major decision, and they took it seriously. So we taught them about the real estate market, and we showed them what type of houses make for good investments, and we explained which homes were attainable on nonprofit paychecks amid a competitive seller’s market. Kevin and Hannah had to make sacrifices, but after a long search, we found a house they loved.
“It was easy working with Johnine and Scott,” Hannah said. “We only had to communicate with one person. They contacted sellers, set up appointments, handled inspections. It really is a ‘full-service’ real estate team.”
“They let us be involved in the process,” Kevin added, “but if we had wanted to be hands-off, we could have gone from not owning a house, to owning a house, to fixing up that house—all without doing anything but calling Johnine and Scott. You’d never have to lift a finger besides singing papers. They’d take care of everything—literally everything.”
We helped Kevin and Hannah settle into their new home. They wanted to install a kitchenette downstairs, so we made suggestions and recommended contractors. Kevin and Hannah decided to do much of the work themselves, because again, they cared about setting down roots, and few things accomplish that as well as investing your own sweat and time. We advised them on how to proceed, and we looked at what else we could do to help them. Kevin and Hannah’s new house didn’t have a washer or dryer, so we asked around and found one. They had acquired a washing machine by that point, but they still needed a dryer, so Scott drove it over for them.
Kevin and Hannah love their new house. They love the backyard, and they love the kitchenette they’re installing, and they love the feeling of immersing themselves in a community for the long haul.
“We got along great with our neighbors when we were renting,” Kevin said, “but here, people treat us different. It’s because they know we bought it, and they know we’re committed. We really feel like we’re part of this neighborhood.”
We understand Kevin and Hannah’s desire for rootedness. We understand their need to build connections and invest in a community, and their urge to contribute their own sweat and time in order end up with a house that they cherish. We understand, because that’s how we view our work, too.
When we partner with clients, we build a relationship. We put down roots with them, and we’re committed to their success. Kevin and Hannah were right—we were personally invested in them, and we still are. We’ll make recommendations for a remodel, and we’ll find a dyer, and we’ll answer any other questions that arise long after the “business” part of our relationship has ended. Because when you have roots, that’s what you do, and that’s what you love doing.
Kevin left us a glowing testimonial. You can read it here.