Scout Real Estate Group LLC, a newly established brokerage here is growing quickly, thanks in part to its owner’s background in the practice of law.
The company’s owner and managing broker, Brian Bean, is an attorney who initially became interested in real estate while handling related cases in his father’s law firm, Charles Bean & Associates PLLC, of Coeur d’Alene, and later as corporate counsel for Ecova Inc, a Spokane-based energy and sustainability management service provider.
“Practicing law provides an excellent background and understanding of real estate, which can give you an added edge as a broker,” he says. “It’s easy for people to forget these are binding, legal agreements, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. A law background helps me to better access the risk and liabilities involved, which is a huge gain for clients.”
Bean, who was recognized as a 2015 “Rising Star” by the Journal of Business while at Ecova, says he soon plans to bring on another managing broker, attorney Jacob Brennan, of Lukins & Annis PS, to serve as his partner in the company.
“Jacob is currently working on taking his managing broker’s exam, and if all goes well, he should be joining us soon,” says Bean. “I’d like to have a team of 15 brokers by the end of this year, which means we’ll likely need a second location.”
Scout, which opened three months ago, is located at 429 W. First, in an 800-square-foot corner space on the main floor of a historic three-story building at the southeast corner of Stevens Street and First Avenue.
“It’s a unique old building,” says Bean. “Most of it has sat vacant for several years, but we’re hoping our presence will encourage further development.”
In addition to Bean, the company currently has nine employees, including seven brokers and two others, those being Bean’s wife, Janet, who serves as design and marketing coordinator, and the company’s operations administrator, Justine Waner.
“All of our brokers are independent contractors,” he says. “Four are full time, and several are attorneys. We also have a part-time commercial lending broker, Mike Bradley, who also owns Beacon Builders construction.”
Bean says the firm hopes to add three new brokers this month, one of whom is also an attorney.
“We do have a lot of attorneys so far, but it wasn’t necessarily my goal to hire only attorneys,” he says. “I think it just happened that way because most of my network contacts are in law. I think real estate is just a natural draw for lawyers because it allows them to interact more, get out from behind the desk so to speak.”
In addition to providing an adaptable understanding of real estate, Bean says his bar license also allows him to pursue properties and purchase agreements that might not be listed through the Multiple Listing Service.
“If a property is listed in the MLS, as a broker I’m bound to abide by those transaction rules,” he says. “However, if I have two parties who are interested in making a purchase or lease agreement outside of the MLS, that is something that I can help them with as an attorney.”
Bean says he also can help answer basic legal questions for clients, although for specific legal issues he is obligated to advise them to seek independent legal counsel.
“There is a kind of gray area that allows me to answer some of the smaller legal questions as they come up, but for definite legal issues, I always encourage clients to seek representation,” he says.
Bean grew up in Coeur d’Alene, earning his bachelor’s in political science from Gonzaga University in 2001. As an attorney, he says he focused on corporate law, real estate, and contracts, but it was his love for real estate that pushed him to pursue a managing broker’s license.
“Attorneys have a role in real estate, but not to the same degree as a broker,” he says. “Brokers get out there and create matches, which I think is just a better fit for my personality.”
Once he got started, Bean says it wasn’t long before he decided to start his own brokerage.
“I see real estate and construction as two of the driving factors that really play a part in moving this city,” he says. “I also wanted to open my own business, because business owners are another factor that really drives communities like this.”
While his current goal is putting together a great brokerage team, Bean says eventually he’d like to see the company begin to diversify its portfolio.
“Right now, we’re in need of strong, professional brokers with good networks,” he says. “We need to focus first on building a strong brokerage side, but I don’t want to stop there. Given more time, I’d like to see us expand into other real estate ventures, which could mean pursuing opportunities in areas like property management, development, or investments.”
Bean says the majority of the firm’s current work is residential, although it does have some commercial clients.
“We currently have between 15 and 20 residential clients, most of which are buyers,” he says. “Brokers are competing pretty heavily for listings right now, so we don’t have many of those.”
Bean says although Spokane’s real estate market has been hot, with many homes seeing multiple offers and selling quickly, it isn’t as intimidating as buyers might think.
“Yes, it’s a quick market, but a lot of the time it comes down to location and price,” he says. “Buyers shouldn’t get discouraged, because homes are staying on the market a bit longer now, and there are still a lot of great locations available, especially in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.”
Bean says the firm also has been seeing more out-of-towners looking to migrate to Spokane from larger cities in states like Oregon and California.
“That dream of owning a home, settling into a community, and raising a family is just more achievable here, and as a result, I think we’ll keep seeing a lot of migration,” he says. “Spokane is on the cusp of some great growth, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”
On the commercial side, Bean says the firm has about five upcoming projects, one of which is a housing project in the Perry District.
“We’re in the midst of purchasing a property in Perry and have started plans and designs for developing a multifamily housing project there,” he says. “It’s considered a commercial project because we’re looking at creating over five units.”
He says for tenants, the developers are hoping to attract small families, and also students who desire to live in a trendy neighborhood while still being close to the University District.
In the future, Bean says he’d also like to see the firm become more involved in projects that benefit the community, either through investment or volunteer work.
“One thing that’s become apparent to us, having just opened this downtown location, is the issue of homelessness,” he says. “We’ve been considering how to organize a project that would ask area brokers to donate a small portion of their commissions toward organizations or shelters that help the homeless. If we could somehow use our connections in housing to benefit those who need shelter most, I think that would be amazing.”
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE