Thunderbird Real Estate makes its way into local market

Thunderbird Real Estate makes its way into local market

Staff writerJune 8, 2014 

On a June 2 tour of their new Capitol Boulevard office, Thunderbird Real Estate co-owners and brokers Leslie Center, left, and Beth Johnson talk about a homecoming for them, of sorts, having grown up in Tumwater and starting a real estate company in their hometown.



    • Owners: Beth Johnson, Leslie Center.
    • Location: 6101 Capitol Boulevard SW, Suite A, Tumwater.
    • Years in business: Opened May 1.
    • Type of business: Real estate business, with an emphasis on residential real estate.
    • Office hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
    • Online: thunderbirdrealestate
    • Staff: It’s just the two of them, but they have the space to grow to seven real estate agents. Johnson is the designated broker and Center is a real estate agent.
    • Did you know? Johnson got into real estate after she retired from a long career in state government, while Center had a long career in the building industry. Both are longtime friends who attended Tumwater High School and graduated in 1972.

Two longtime friends who graduated from Tumwater High School in 1972 and who have backgrounds in real estate have merged their friendship and experience into a business called Thunderbird Real Estate.

How much did they like their time at Tumwater High School? So much so that the last four digits of the office phone number is 1-9-7-2.

After retiring from a state job, Beth Johnson realized that she was “not good at doing nothing,” so she got into the real estate business; her friend, Leslie Center, soon followed.

The two began accumulating real estate experience in south Thurston County — Johnson has worked in real estate for close to 10 years, while Center is starting her third year — and then they decided to join forces, settling on office space on Capitol Boulevard in Tumwater.

They took possession of the space April 1, opened May 1 and had their first open house May 31.

Although new business owners, they already know what’s important for Thunderbird Real Estate: a good work ethic, attention to detail, integrity and good customer service.

“We want to be a reflection of ourselves,” said Johnson. “That’s who we are.”

Johnson got into real estate after the housing market crashed, but because she had retirement income, she could learn the business slowly without having to scramble to establish a steady income.

The housing market continues to improve, she said, adding that the lending environment has stabilized and loan programs do exist. Credit score requirements also have eased a bit, Johnson said.

One of her favorite things about working in real estate is handing over the keys to a first-time buyer. “I love it,” she said.

Rachel Hill, 29, of Centralia bought her first home with Center’s assistance. She and her husband first worked with an agent that didn’t work for them, and then they were referred to Center.

Hill said working with Center is “night and day” different.

“It was wonderful,” said Hill, adding that Center was willing to go to bat for them, and that she just “took over.”

“She made it stress-free,” Hill said.

After their open house, Johnson and Center headed out to the parking lot to go home. That’s when they reflected on the moment and the business.

“This is ours,” Center said. “We did this.”

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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