Check out August’s Most Interesting Realtors of the Month Heather Cook and husband Brad Cook with Cook and Company, LLC at Better Homes & Gardens Realty!
What good is a fabulous life if you’re too busy to enjoy it?
Anyone who has trudged up the corporate ladder has likely entertained that thought, as they creep along in sluggish traffic, unsure and afraid of what happens if you get bold and hop off this crazy labor-go-round.
It’s a simple equation: Too much work for too little play means it’s time to take a leap. That’s how Brad and Heather Cook got their start together, and how they’ve come to create their team, Cook & Company, under Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.
“I was working more than I needed to for what the income was,” Brad says. “It made sense. It’s something I’d been looking at doing for a while. She was the catalyst to pull me into it.”
Heather comes from a family of realtors and appraisers, and had been selling real estate on her own for eight years. By faith, and with puzzle pieces already fitting together in life, they embarked on a new journey. One that would yield riches far greater than they’d expected.
But it wasn’t without worry.
“There are benefits, vacation time, things you don’t get in our universe,” Heather says. “It was us feeling, ‘so what if
we have to pay $3,000-$4,000 a year for insurance?’ That is such a small price to pay for your sanity and your happiness.”
Heather had long before grown restless in the 9-to-5 grind in a handful of Fortune 500 companies. Brad’s jet-setting schedule with a massive legal firm left Heather home without him. “It was the worst,” Heather says.
“Looking back on it, two years later, I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner,” Brad says. “I wasted so much time. But here we are.”
if anyone understands the power of circumstance, it is the Cooks. Heather is a South Carolina girl who grew up in Rock Hill and made a brief stop at Indiana University. Brad hails from Indiana, a Ball State grad. They met in the Carolina Piedmont three years ago. Back then, they didn’t know that one of Heather’s kids and both of Brad’s children were born in the same hospital.
“That was a sign,” Heather says.
John Jory’s wife found Heather online while the couple house-hunted. The two women found instant chemistry through text messages. “Like sisters,” John says. Working with the Cooks was “Easy, quick, enjoyable. Heather was so responsive, and fun to work with. She often responded within five minutes.”
Five months later, the Jorys bought a second home with the Cooks.
Sarah Coleman and her husband noticed the one-two punch the Cooks deliver. “Heather was very energetic, experienced, passionate and charming with the cutest southern accent,” Sarah says. “Brad was very reserved, clever, tactful and a good listener.”
Rachel Chwaszczewski needed that level of expertise. A full-time real estate investor, she needed something more than a one-off transaction. Few realtors in the area have the expertise for that. The Cooks do, though.
“They’ve proven to be an integral part of our team,” Rachel says. “They are excellent negotiators and seek to make a win-win situation for us as well as the buyers. We’ve worked with them for years, and they are worth every penny! Even though they are busy, they always make it seem like we are their most important client.”
One of the Cooks’ greatest gifts comes after the sale. You’ve seen the congratulatory images in social media: happy buyers at the end of the journey, gripping keys and SOLD signs, happy realtors in tow. Heather takes the closing to a new level by telling their actual stories.
“There’s usually a high and low in it,” Heather says. “This was real life. There are people who work for years to get their credit up to buy a house. There are people who were going through a divorce, and this is their first home on their own. They have a story.”
Those stories create community, too. Past clients chime in on the news of new sales.
“It’s a business transaction,” Brad says. “But we want to want to make friends out of the clients we work with. It’s not, ‘congratulations, here’s your close, great working with you.’ I don’t know of many clients we’ve had and not become Facebook friends with.”
“It’s like a club,” Heather says.
The Cooks balance a blended family and a booming business. They considered starting a team – tried it once, actually – but the tandem approach works best for them. There are so many moving parts! Often, those parts are moving not only around Lake Norman but across state lines. And all over Charlotte.
“We’re trying to keep our sanity right now,” Brad says. “We stay so busy. We would love to say all our business is in Lake Norman, but it’s not. She (Heather) has so much of her residual business in South Carolina. Investors she’s worked with in the past, whom we continue to do business.”
“We don’t say ‘no’ to business because it’s a longer drive,” Heather adds.
The Cooks also struggle to say no to animals.
Self-proclaimed “foster fails,” the family has added six dogs and two cats! “One will make buddies with one of the other ones,” Heather says. “What kind of person are you to take away his best friend?”
You’ll find the Cooks at smaller animal shelters doing their part, snapping photos of pups looking for a forever home to post on Facebook. Checking in and bringing food, toys, and trash bags. They play with the dogs, keeping them accustomed to human contact.
As they do in their business, Brad and Heather know the importance of the little details.
“That’s our hashtag, #DoYourLittlePart,” Heather says. “If you can do something little, and a bunch of people do something little, you have a whole lot.”
To get through busy seasons, Brad and Heather usually have a getaway planned. They’re avid cruisers. A countdown timer on an app provides huge motivation for pushing through on the busiest days. At home, there’s always a show at Blumenthal Theater to enjoy.
“We’re junkies,” Heather says. “Big time. We got the Broadway package for all the shows at Blumenthal (Theater). One of our kids is a theater kid. He’s gotten us hooked on this stuff.”
That’s Will (18), Heather’s son. Joe (21), Heather’s other son, goes to College of Charleston. Will is on his way to college and has worked his way up from backstage crew to a leading role in theater at school. He’s provided motivation and big-brother protection for Brad’s kids, Addison (11) and Channing (9).
“It’s a big change for Heather,” Brad says. “She was almost an empty nester. Then here I came with mine. The cool thing is watching how the kids have meshed together.”
The Cooks recently added a closing coordinator to keep business smooth. That freedom allows Brad and Heather to focus on creating relationships and remaining such a dynamic duo.
“We work as a team,” Heather says. “It’s not like I’m the office admin and he’s out doing the work. If you’re out to buy a house, this is what you’ll get. That’s unique. The animal stuff we have going on, to the level we do it, it borders on an obsession. But it’s unique. The fact our kids were born in the same hospital is our thing.
“It’s the story we like to tell. It’s weird, and it’s cool. We love it.”
For more information you may contact Heather at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 803-225-4320.