The Dustin Luther factor: Where it all began, sprinkled with blogging surprises

First, I don’t know about other’s experiences in blogging, but stumbling upon Rain City Guide over a year ago or so and Dustin’s introduction to me of the world of moving away from a static glorified business card (called a website) to that of the dynamic and interactive world of Blogging has had a tremendous impact on me and as a small business owner (like everyone here).

For example, I’ve been able to make contacts with people whom I would never have had the chance to without the platform of blogging, both personal contacts and business contacts. Today, I got a chance to head back to my old stomping grounds in Seattle due to a courtesy signing with a client who teaches at Seattle University. After finding a parking spot, I headed over to the campus and walked to the School of Engineering to meet for our appointment. After about 30 seconds, I realized I was talking to an old neighborhood acquaintance whom I have not seen for over 30 yrs!

Inspired, after the appointment, I drove up Madison St. towards 19th and headed North towards St. Joe’s School on 19th and Aloha where I went to school as a kid. On the Northwest corner of 19th & Aloha is a small building where I was given my first job as a skinny, messy 70’s style haired bloke. The impact of that first job is really what set the stage for the foundation of work ethic and character building.

My first job was given to me by the late George and Evelyn Benson of Benson’s Mission Pharmacy on Capitol Hill. For those unfamiliar, George Benson was a long time pillar of the Capitol Hill community and a respected Seattle City Councilman. You want to talk about customer service? I distinctly remember George pulling up in his car to hand deliver a prespcription for my mom or dad at our front door a few blocks away. Those were the days of intensely personalized service. Mission Pharmacy and the Benson’s are no longer, but the windows I washed and the sidewalk I swept are still there as they were 30 years ago.

I headed over to my old house where I grew up, drove around the front of the home, got out of my car and headed over to the steps and walkway that wind up to the front door, but I stopped short of that trek—memories just racing through my head. Walking back to my car, I then drove around to the alley, which really was “our” front door entrance. Peering through my passenger door window I stared up into my old bedroom window and into the back yard. I was too embarrassed to walk up and knock on the door. Perhaps another day.

Part of the motivation for telling you this is about finding out who you really work with and the idea of “trust.” Does it matter to you? Trust in real estate is the glue that keeps customers coming back to you. Trust to do the right thing. Trust to work in the best interest of our mutual client.

When you strip away all the marketing persona and fluff in our industry and get to know potential new clients in a transparent and personal way, giving a glimpse into what makes you tick, warts ‘n all, it is remarkable how quickly you forge trust in the person standing across from you. Finding a common denominator and building trust with a potential client on a level that has nothing to do with business has been exceptionally fruitful.

Since the beginning of this year, just days ago, through blogging, I have reunioned with two old childhood friends and received fruitful clients. When you strip it all away I’m not terribly different than any other agent or loan officer trying to make a living. On Thursday, I headed out to brokers opens to meet some new people in the business who work in our area and I bumped into an old “acquaintance” whom I met at college in 1985. I haven’t seen her for 21 yrs. The funny thing about the meeting was that she (the agent) mentioned to me “ya know, I just speak my mind, and I wanted to you to know that I had a crush on you way back when we were freshman.” What a Brokers open and what a week.

Dustin, although I’ve never met your family personally, thanks for introducing me to a way that a small fry can compete with the Goliath’s.

38 thoughts on “The Dustin Luther factor: Where it all began, sprinkled with blogging surprises

  1. Wow Tim! Thank you for the wonderful story! As much credit as I’m given from time-to-time, I’ve taken away so much more from this community.

    I was laughing with someone at lunch today how quickly I’ve become almost unemployable in a traditional sense because I found my voice in RCG and I completely refuse to ever give it up.

  2. I agree Trust is very important. In this day and age when real estate is slowing down, many people are taking short cuts. I had a Realtor yesterday said that they break the rules because they can get more leads. In the end they will be out of business.

  3. “I was laughing with someone at lunch today how quickly I’ve become almost unemployable in a traditional sense because I found my voice in RCG and I completely refuse to ever give it up.”

    What I wouldn’t give for a whole post from Dustin expounding on THAT sentence! Pretty Please?

  4. Tim,

    Being “ARDELL in Ardell’s World” for so long, I haven’t had to look too closely at how other agents think. But recently, since I became the Broker of Brio, I find myself giving classes on how I work and think. The good news is that the majority of the agents in the class are wholeheartedly grasping the concept that they must be the expert, and not simply providing “a service”. They just never thought of it that way, because no one taught them or mentored them that way.

    I’m pretty sure that no one else has told them that they are NOT a service industry, and that what they think they do for a living would pay $15 to $25 an hour. We don’t make the big bucks “to provide a service”, we make them to be on top of our game in terms of valuing property. We are property analysts who have to take all things into consideration, the same as I did when I ran investment portfolios. Fine tuning advices per each client, not simply based on what they “want”, but how what they want may impact them in the future.

    Often it is our job to change what they want.

    P.S. You should have knocked on the door. Send me the address and I’ll arrange for a tour πŸ™‚

  5. Ardell–you did it again in that post! πŸ˜‰

    That’s actually a very good explanation of what an agent should do. For example, there are a lot of people that think they can deal with the forms (most of those are deceiving themselves, but that’s another matter), but buying and selling real estate goes beyond that. Real estate transactions are not something the typical person does even once a year. It’s the expertise that matters.

    Similarly with pricing. Some people think that with listing sites such was, and sites like Zillow that they can price their property just as well as an agent with experience. Many of those people don’t even know what to look at (I’ll give a clue–it has almost nothing to do with looking at But beyond that, those people wouldn’t know if they were dealing with a difficult pricing situation or an easy one. Again it’s the expertise that matters.

    Then let’s say they accept an offer. The inspection process can be filled with issues, and the potential for missed deadlines. Again it’s the expertise that matters getting through this process.

  6. Synthetik and Kary:

    “Advice/Advices: Opinion about what could or should be done about a situation or problem; counsel.
    Information communicated; news. Often used in the plural: advices from an ambassador”

    My usage is correct, though it is optional as to whether you use advice vs. advices.

    One would use “advice” if there is one singular message being offered. In real estate, that is rarely the case, and so advices is more appropriate.

    I still think Synthetik is just looking for any excuse to take a jab. If that’s all he could find, I’m doing damn good and still batting 1,000.

  7. I grew up in Seattle, but when I was younger, I didn’t treasure its “seattleness”. I didn’t like that it was so small, so remote, so square. I traveled a bit, but family obligations kept me here. It looks like we’ve traveled several roads together (St. Joseph’s School, Seattle University), and we live just a few blocks from where you grew up, and just a block from Benson’s and we in the neighborhood still feel their loss. But all the things I hated as a kid, the small-feel, the people who’ve lived their whole life in one place, the lack of privacy and the “village”, these are things I now treasure, especially with children. I now see that sense of continuity that I feel is the best thing for all of us, and I wouldn’t dream of leaving.

    What I’ve discovered online is another community, just as real and important as the one I live in the real world. I too have met people I would have never normally met, and it’s been an eye-opening experience for me.

    On a side note, one of the interesting things about Capitol Hill, is the transitions and changes it has gone through. Big houses for large Catholic families were cheap and went through a bit of a decline in the ’70’s. But now this has become a very desirable place to live, fueled by stories such as yours filled with fond memories. The streets are again full of children, the whole hill packed with families, and it has experienced a renaissance in living, with property values through the roof, the schools bursting at the seams, coffee shops multiplying like jack rabbits and the restaurants packed every night. (Did you see that new restaurant in the Benson’s building? It’s standing-room only on the weekends).

    P.S. I think Galen lives near Benson’s too.

    P.P.S. I bet you know where we live: We live in the “Robel’s house.”

  8. Marlow,
    Yes, I did see the restaurant, but can’t remember the name. And that Tully’s across the street— that used to be an artist place, like a pottery boutique (I think).

    Robel’s house doesn’t ring a bell though. And, the property values, jaw droppers— particularly on 21st, 22nd & 23rd between Aloha down to Prospect/Highland drive. Noticed one home down the alley from my old house sold for $5.8 Million.

  9. The restaurant is now Vios ( and it’s the perfect neighborhood cafe with a gelato bar. Where Tully’s is, used to be Surrogate Hostess. Next to it was a Laurel’s Gifts, but now it’s an architectural firm. Further down 19th by Galen’s is a Windermere that just sold last week. The new broker/owner is Pat Grimm, who also grew up in the ‘hood, went to St. Joe’s and now his kids go there too. The Robel’s lived near 17th and E. Prospect, so I thought you might know at least one of their 8 kids!

  10. Marlow,

    Sorry! Those names don’t come to mind. The people around my place were McKay, McDonald, McChesney, Savauge, O’Brien, Burke, Brown, Henderson, etc. just to rattle off a few. And, yes, those were some very large families.

  11. Tim: Nice post, well written!

    You are absolutely right about the trust issue. I heard recently at a mortgage seminar (maybe the only growth sector in the finance market) that every activity you do in your professional day should be with the goal of adding trust and authority/knowledge. Minimize everything else. Probably true in your profession and RE as well.

    Secondly, we crave community and connectedness, in almost any form that we can get it. Most modern trends have steered us away from that connectedness (long commutes in SOVs, television, longer work hours, less civic involvement, 2 working parents), to name but a few of the drivers.

    Blogging, both from the author and commentators perspective, restores some of that community, and reduces many of the barriers (distance, wealth related appearances, time and money) that keep us away from the more traditional community rituals.

    In a relatively short time, I have managed to feel a sense of community at RCG and have discovered some completely unexpected surprises in regard to my “on-line” presence.

    I’m sure there are many surpises yet in store, both good and bad.

  12. Dustin,

    I know. I’ve been using your blog as an example for those who are afraid to blog or who think they need to be as good as X. I said the top guru of blogging does em short and sweet these days, and I take them over to 4Realz

    I’ve decided that if I need to tell someone they can’t blog, I should probably send their license back to the DOL πŸ™‚

  13. Ardell, I’m the last person that would make fun of someone else’s spelling. Spelling is a bit of a challenge for me–I just don’t have the aptitude for it. I’m much better with numbers. But once a computer tells be 30-50 times that I’m misspelling a word, I’ll usually get it right. Spell-check has actually helped a lot!

  14. I couldn’t agree more. I had the pleasure of attending Dustin’s presentation in Vagas at the NAR conference. The day I got home, I started my own blog at to service the Edmonton real estate market.
    It’s been a battle to stay on top of blogging, and finding content. But as time goes on, I find that it’s getting easier and more addictive. If only I could do my blogging full time, and give up real estate!!
    Dustin, thank you for pointing me in the right direction…


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