Prime Living-Sponsored Feature

Prime Living-Sponsored Feature: Coldwell Banker, Fairway experts help boomers downsize, improve retirement

Oct 17, 2018
Susan Shorett, Realtor, SRES

You know that house you bought 40 years ago, the one you thought you’d live in for the rest of your life, the one that became your home?

If you’re among the 75 million baby boomers who fit that description, among the 10,000 boomers who are retiring every day, among the many who are rethinking that “aging in place” plan, you’re not alone.

Perhaps the stairs are becoming too hard to climb, the yard work too draining, the upkeep too cumbersome. You may be ready to downsize, but just the idea of it seems overwhelming.

Michelle Thomas and Susan Shorett, realtors at Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood, understand. They are working with homeowners who fit that description all the time.

And they regularly team up with Wayland Coleman, area manager for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation – one of the three largest mortgage lenders in the nation – to help homeowners make that transition, smoothly and seamlessly.

Together they bring decades of business experience to the table, and different skill sets that complement one another to provide clients a broad range of expertise.

At Fairway, for example, Coleman’s team of mortgage lenders can provide a spectrum of options not readily available at banks, including seamless transition of loans between selling your existing home to a new home purchase, or reverse mortgages that clients can use to buy a new home or, if they prefer, stay in their current one.

“A bank specializes in checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets, HELOCS (lines of credit), as well as mortgages – 10 different things,” Coleman said.

“We specialize in mortgages, so we know how to do it really well.”

Whereas a bank mortgage process may take 30 to 60 days or more, Fairway’s typically takes 20-30 days. “Everything is in-house,” Coleman said, “so we’re super-fast.

“In any market, speed is sometimes important to both buyers and sellers.”

And, by specializing only in mortgage lending, Fairway’s lenders can provide more personal, customized service.

“As opposed to the 9-to-5 weekday service at the bank, we’re available from 8 in the morning to 9 at night, seven days a week,” Coleman said. Fairway even offers smart phone apps that provide clients – and their realtors – with real time updates on the loan process.

That focus on personal, customized service is a big reason why Coleman likes working with Thomas and Shorett. They thrive on helping clients see “the big picture” when making life-changing decisions like downsizing.

Shorett is a fifth generation Seattleite who has worked in real estate since 2003. The WWU graduate combines her expertise in real estate with extensive knowledge of the distinct neighborhoods she’s known her entire life.

Thomas, raised in Hawaii, spent nearly 20 years in retail industry management after earning a BA in Psychology and a MBA in Business Administration. With a wealth of business, planning and managing experience in her background, real estate was a natural fit.

Both Thomas and Shorett are in the top 7 percent in sales out of more than 90,000 Coldwell Banker agents nationwide.

They constantly update and refine their skills so that they can offer all the services clients should expect – title and escrow assistance, buyer vetting and price negotiations, multiple offer strategies, and buyer pre-approval – as well as the latest, 21st century benefits, including social media, marketing and advertising.

As more retirees and near-retirees have approached them about making life-changing decisions, Shorett and Thomas have honed their expertise to assist with those specific challenges. Their services include:

• assistance in downsizing and preparation for a move;

• assistance in preparing a home for listing, including de-cluttering, cleaning, donations of items, landscaping, home repairs, painting and pre-inspections;

• staging recommendations;

• professional photography, including drone photos and marketing videos.

The Coldwell Banker team understands there are powerful emotions tied to a home you’ve lived in for decades. That’s why they encourage clients to begin focusing on what “could be” rather than “what’s been.”

“It’s not a transaction,” Thomas said. “It’s a journey.”

“If you've lived in a house for 40 years, you have a lot more options than you think,” Shorett said.

She and Thomas can open clients’ eyes about the untapped wealth they’ve got, and help them identify the many options available to them.

“Why have all that equity in a house you don’t need anymore?” Shorett asked.

But, understandably, the decision to move on can be hard.

“People can’t let go of where they are until they look at where they’re going,” Shorett said.

“Imagine living in one place that long and making the decision to leave,” Thomas said. “It’s better to let us do it.”

Sometimes, they literally hold a client’s hand. A woman who had decided to re-do all the floors in her home ripped up the old carpet and flooring, then found herself swamped with family and career, including a long, trying commute. Consequently, she walked around on subflooring, for far too long, unable to take the next step.

It wasn’t just about the floors, of course. It was about making major life changes. She asked Thomas and Shorett for help. They took her by the hand to the local flooring store, helped her decide on new floors, and prepared her home for sale.

They also found her a townhouse a couple of blocks away.

“She got to downsize, and she got to stay in the neighborhood where she wanted to be,” Shorett said. “She was thrilled.”

With 100 percent equity from her old home, she was able to pay cash for the townhouse and retire, putting the horrendous commute behind her and ending up with spending money for other needs or, better yet, travel, recreation and other indulgences.

“Once a boomer makes the decision to downsize,” Shorett said, “not only can they change their living situation, but they can take the equity earned over many years and make other big changes in their lives.”

Another couple they helped sold their home, bought a condo with a view and still had enough equity left to buy a second condo in Arizona, joining the fabled “snowbirds” (or, perhaps in our case, rainbirds) who enjoy the best of two worlds.

“Had they not tapped into their equity, they would have remained in a house that they no longer needed,” Shorett said.

Thomas and Shorett have many other similar stories about helping boomers through a life-changing process, and keep tabs even after homes are bought or sold.

“They’re never alone,” Thomas said. “It is their journey, but we’re here to facilitate it.”

Coleman brings his expertise in mortgage options to facilitate those discussions. “You need the personal touch because there are so many factors to consider,” he said. “You need a loan officer to find out your needs.

“We offer more products than a typical bank, we’re very automated, and you get a loan officer who works with you front to back, holding your hand.

“We’re easy, streamlined, and we save you money. That’s our job.”

Ready to make the leap? Or at least talk about it? They’re ready, too.

• Susan Shorett, 206-478-2417,,

• Michelle Thomas, 925-301-5888,,

• Wayland Coleman, 206-963-4788,


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.