Real Estate Information

Seattle Real Estate Blog

Joe Klarman


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24

Housing Demand Remains Strong

by RJJE Staff

In article after article, the media has reported falling home sales in recent months, saying the market is "cooling down," and the Seattle Times has stated that large drops in stock prices of Redfin and Zillow have resulted from that cooling. However, a look beyond the headlines reveals a strong market in Seattle with an upside for sellers as well as buyers.

House for Sale

Last month, King5 News reported a significant increase in the number of houses for sale in the Seattle area in June. This was soon followed by an online article in the Seattle PI describing an increase in housing inventory and reduced competition among buyers.

In response, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of National Association of REALTORS, provided a pragmatic overview of the market in Forbes in an article titled, "No Housing Recession Over Horizon." As he notes, existing home sales inched down by 2.2 percent in the first half of 2018 with a five-percent increase in prices, likely caused not by a lack of interest but a lack of inventory. As he also states, while bidding may not be so fierce, multiple bidding is still common, indicating continued demand outstripping supply.

About Seattle in particular, Yun notes that the job growth rate is nearly twice that of the growth rate for the US as a whole, which may indicate continued strong housing demand.

Aerial Architecture

Two days ago, Mike Rosenberg at the Seattle Times wrote that while Washington State is no longer the top state for increases in real estate prices, the market from June 2017 to June 2018 still rose by 12.1 percent. And yesterday, MarketWatch cited rising inventory in Seattle between July 2017 and July 2018 as moderating the rate of price increases.

What to make of all this?

At Russell Jones Real Estate, Broker Joe Klarman remains positive about the housing market in the Puget Sound area. "Of course, it's impossible to predict the future of any market," he said, "but the job market in Seattle remains strong and Seattle is a great place to live. We should also keep in mind that a similar situation with increased inventory occurred about two years ago in the Seattle market, but that additional inventory dried up a few months later."

On a more general note, he added, "However the market changes going forward, a healthy balance between supply and demand is good for everyone in the long run. When the inventory isn't so excessively low, it's easier for people to find homes that they love, which makes buying a home more pleasant and that is a great win for our community."

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Rainier Square’s new Building

by Joe Klarman

Have you seen the plans for Seattle's second tallest building? Soaring 58 stories into the (sometime) blue skies of Seattle, Rainier Square will elegantly reign over nearly a full block of prime downtown landscape.

Seattle-ites already know that their city is one of the best in the world. To those unfortunates who may not know, Seattle is best known for its eclectic neighborhoods, Space Needle, sports teams and dreary weather. The metropolitan financial, retail and business areas of downtown don't always make the list for Seattle icons. The building of Rainier Square may change all of that. This new eye-catching architectural design will certainly make people stop and take notice.

Rainier Square - Trendy? Yes. Dramatic? Yes. Luxurious? You bet!

You may wonder what will be included in this spectacular new building. Wonder no more. Seattle take notice - Rainier Square will have it all. From high-end apartments with one of the most magnificent views in the city to an exclusive hotel as well as coveted retail and office space. If you're worried about parking downtown - don't worry about parking at Rainier Square. There will be plenty of underground parking waiting to be filled.

The look of this new type of architecture will make the lucky people of Seattle (and those who wish they were) stop and notice. Living or leasing in this new building may not be for the financially challenged, but it is definitely a show-stopper when it comes to design. Rainier Square will be visible from Elliott Bay and the Space Needle, and it's sure to be added to the list of Seattle's uniquely diverse icons.

Be Prepared for Flooding

by Joe Klarman

As heavy rains and melting snow floods the rivers in Washington, causing mudslides and highway closures, Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency. It is important to take precautions against the damage a flood can wreak on your home.

Before the Flood:

  • Know your area's risk for flooding, and find out the safest area near to you.
  • If you live in a high-risk flood area, consider buying flood insurance. Homeowner's insurance may not offer extensive enough coverage in the event of a flood.
  • Make an emergency flood plan. If you have children, make sure they know and understand the plan.

If a Flood Watch is issued, it is important to begin preparing for flood conditions:

  • Keep your radio or television on for updates on potential flooding
  • Know where to go. In the event of a flood, it may be necessary to get to the highest possible ground on foot. Know where this is.
  • Build your emergency preparedness kit. At the very least, this should include first-aid supplies, a flashlight, batteries, and cash.
  • Disconnect all electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical devices if you are standing in water.
  • If you are instructed to, turn off your gas and electricity at the main valve or switch.

If there is a Flood Warning, it is time for you to take action:

  • Move immediately to higher ground, and stay there.
  • Evacuate if you are directed to do so. Your possessions are not worth as much as your safety.
  • Never drive through a flood. It only takes 2 feet of water to sweep your vehicle away.

After a flood, take the following precautions:

  • Only return home once authorities have declared it safe to do so.
  • Be aware of road conditions, floods often erode streets and sidewalks.
  • Avoid standing water. It may still be electrically charged by downed or underground power lines.
  • For insurance purposes, photograph flood damage to your property.

Living in Washington, you can always be assured that there is more rain on the way. The only way to prevent property damage and ensure your safety is to be prepared. Make a plan, and stick to it. Stay safe.

Seattle Washington expects an Increase in New Home Sales

by Joe Klarman

The housing market near Seattle has really heated up. It is a seller's market for existing homes with a 10% increase in the price since last year, this is a great time to sell your existing home. Buyers can look forward to lots of options in new home construction next year as builders are planning on meeting the needs of new home owners by building.

You may think with the current price increases that now isn't the right time to buy a home, but buying is still cheaper than renting. Residents spend about 22% of their income on a mortgage and about 31% on rent. If you are concerned about making a large down payment, many times you can make a smaller down payment and carry mortgage insurance. This may be an added cost, but it is a sensible one considering the money you would spend on rent.

The housing market has improved over the last few years with new home construction falling behind demand but is expected to level out in 2016 with an increase in new home construction. With the increase in construction, new home sales are expected to increase by 16% in 2016, leading to a much healthier housing market overall.

As the housing market balance of used to new homes stabilizes in 2016 with a large increase in new home construction, and a small decrease in existing home sales, both home owners looking to sell and new home buyers should find the market agreeable.

Now is a great time to sell your existing home and or buy a new one. With the healthy gains expected next year, things should only get better for buyers and sellers in the Seattle area.

Decorating for the Holidays

by Joe Klarman

The holidays are here and it's time to get your home ready for the season. Whether you're hosting friends and family, or just creating a cozy space to come back to each day, decorating can make your home feel warm and festive. Below, we're sharing tips for sprucing up your space.

Be Subtle with Elegant Details

Image via HGTV on Pinterest

There's no need to opt for over the top decorations. Skip the Santa statues and life size snowmen. Instead, choose simple items that add to the decor of your home. For example, some easy floral arrangements and a few ornaments on the table makes an elegant holiday centerpiece.

Celebrate with Nature

Image via Camille Styles on Pinterest


Even in a winter wonderland, there's plenty of color to be found outside. Bring some of that color indoors to serve as Christmas decor. Berry covered branches, tall twigs wrapped in twinkle lights and placed in vases, and garlands of greenery bring in all the traditional colors. Add some festive fabrics like plaid tablecloths and red satin ribbons to finish the look.

DIY Your Decor

Image via Real Simple on Pinterest


Holiday decor doesn't need to be elaborate or expensive to make an impact. Try your hand at some do it yourself decorations. With plenty of wreath, centerpiece, and garland tutorials available online, you have your pick of projects. Use supplies with different textures, like burlap ribbon and wool yarn, to warm up your space for the cold months ahead.

Holiday Activities, near Seattle

by Joe Klarman

If you are looking for something to do in or near Seattle this holiday season, you have no shortage of options. Regardless of your age, income or interests, there is a holiday activity in the greater Seattle area that you will enjoy.

Taproot Theater's “This Christmas”

Taproot Theater proudly presents a brand new, full-length original play called “This Christmas”. The play, written by Anne Kennedy Brady, relies on contemporary Seattle as a setting. It is the story of Leah, a woman who is set on planning the perfect Christmas celebration against all odds. “This Christmas” runs between November 20 and December 26. Other local holiday plays include "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and "Christmastown: A Holiday Noir". Each will be performed between December 4th and 25th.

The Issaquah Reindeer Festival

A holiday tradition since 1988, The Issaquah Reindeer Festival runs through December 23. Take the family on out to this uber-fun event where you will enjoy all of the lovely holiday splendor in every form and fashion. The kids can meet with Santa Claus, visit with Santa's reindeer, sit on Santa's sleigh or write a letter to Santa and drop it off in his personal mailbox. Elves will be on-site to tell stories. There is even a lovely Magic Forest for the family to wander through. Other Issaquah Reindeer Festival events include the opportunity to feed Christmas treats to Santa's animals, festive face painting and an observation space where you can watch candy cane makers.

Snowflake Lane at The Bellevue Collection

Running now through December 24, Snowflake Lane is the one place in the greater Seattle area where snow will fall every single night of the holiday season. Situated on the street between Lincoln Square, Bellevue Square and Bellevue Place, Snowflake Lane puts on an enchanting performance that the entire family will enjoy. Here, you will find festive holiday music, gorgeous Christmas light spectacles, live toy soldier drummers, animated Christmas characters and so much more. When the show ends, your family will have the chance to have their picture taken with their favorite Snowflake Lane personalities.

Seattle Center Winterfest

Running between now and December 31, the Seattle Center Winterfest is one of the area's top holiday events. Winterfest features all sorts of holiday-themed entertainment including open ice rinks, ice sculpting, live music performances, model trains, comedy shows, performances by 3rd Shift Dance and SANCA Cirrus Circus, caroling and much more.

Why you should be discussing title insurance

by Joe Klarman

Why you should be discussing title insurance

When buying a home, you come across a lot of terminology and you may not know what all of it means for you as a homeowner. Title insurance can be one of those terms that you may not be familiar with, but it is in your best interest to know why having a title insurance policy can save you from potential legal actions and financial loss.

Made to protect lenders and owners of real estate against damage or any property loss they may encounter from liens, defects in the title, or impediments, title insurance policies are subject to various terms and conditions from state to state.

While the insurance policy you carry on your car or even your health is there to protect you in case of any future problems, title insurance is much different. Title insurance is in place to safeguard against any actions that transpired previously, with the real estate itself or the prior owners. You will pay a one-time premium at the close of escrow and the policy will cover you as well as your heirs, as long as you have interest in the property.

What else do I need to know about title insurance?

There are two types of title insurance policies, one for lenders, and one for the buyer of the property. While all mortgage providers require a lender policy, it does not cover the owner of the property. You must purchase your owner's policy independently.

After your contract for purchase is accepted, the specialist handling the titling of your home will do a search of public records to try to locate any problems with the home's title. It is common since almost one-third of title searches produce some kind of defect in the title but the title company will do its best to handle any issues that may arise before you go to closing.

Title issues can come up, even with the most thorough searches of the property. A title insurance policy will protect you against unforeseen events that may take place after you have taken ownership of the home. Having an owner's policy is highly recommended to keep your biggest investment safe.

Types of title defects

  1. Fraud and forgery can cause trouble for anyone purchasing a home. The perpetrators involved in real estate scams are cunning and tenacious, and they can cause difficulties that can remain concealed until long after closing, no matter how precautious the title company is.
  2. A missing heir can cause issues long after you have acquired the property if they are related to the deceased homeowner. Your rights to the home could be compromised, but an owner's policy ensures that you will have representation if litigation were to ensue.
  3. An illegal deed may affect the ability to enforce prior deeds and ownership, as well as present-day possession. Your policy may help if deception has been found in the handling of the title.

The only way that you can ensure being fully protected as a homeowner is to have an owner's policy that covers any problems with the title that were not found during the initial records search. You will have peace of mind that your title company will stand behind you, if you have to deal with any unanticipated problems. You will need to check with your owner's policy issuer to see what types of hidden title issues are covered.

Home Search Checklist

by Joe Klarman

It goes without saying that a home is the biggest investment that you will ever make. It will, therefore, be well worth your time to consider what you want in a home and develop a system to evaluate the properties you visit. A home buyers' check list is a good way to stream line your evaluation process. As you visit a property you can go over your check list and score each of the features that are most important to you. Later on, after visiting several properties, you can look over your home buyers' check lists to see which homes scored the highest. The home buyers' checklist can be a great way to organize your notes during the home searching process.

You should start out by considering what features are most important to you. For example, if you have children or are planning to have children, then number of bedrooms, neighborhood, and schools may all be important to you in your home search. If you are single, then you may be more interested in local atmosphere, restaurants and entertainment venues and proximity to your job. Because a house is such a big investment, it's a good idea to think big picture and long term.

There are also features that, in the excitement of finding a home that suits you, may be overlooked. This includes things like the age and condition of the roof and the furnace. Is the basement damp? How sound do the electrical outlets appear? What about the plumbing? Emotions can run high when considering what your life will look like in a particular home or how you might change layout or décor. Having a check list will help to remind you to look at the practical items that can be as important as your wish list when searching for a new home.

Where does one find a home buyer's checklist? You can easily create your own check list using spread sheet software. It is a good idea however to create your list several days or even a couple of weeks in advance so that you can adjust your check list as ideas come to you.

If you would rather have a ready-made check list, a quick web search can help. HUD has a thorough checklist. Other websites such as can offer lots of great advice about what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a home.

Your home will be the base from which you operate, a place of solace and comfort where you can get away from the world and the place you invite friends. It is also a large investment that you are not likely to make every year or two. Take the time now to organize yourself so that you can make as thoughtful and informed a decision as possible. You will be glad you did.

Best Home Improvements for the Money

by Joe Klarman

Upgrading your home can be tricky. Some home improvements are expensive not just in terms of cost, but whether you will recoup your investment. Here are a few home improvements that improve your home and be a great investment.

Landscape Makeover

Landscaping is an inexpensive way to increase your home's value. Adding a new walkway or planting some colorful flowers is simple and easy. It shows your community that you take pride in your home, and makes it stand out. You can find plants for free just by checking the classifieds; many of your neighbors are trying to get rid of plants without throwing them away. Another easy way to dramatically improve the appearance of your yard is to keep it edged. Clean lines always look great,

Add Insulation

30 percent of the warm air your furnace produces escapes because of subpar insulation in your attic. This is an easy project that should not take longer than a weekend. Insulation is inexpensive, and it is easy to add to your attic. While you are at it add caulking around doors and windows. This will immediately save you money and upgrade your home's energy efficiency.

Upgrade Your Plumbing

Appraisers take a home's plumbing very seriously when assessing a home's value. If your old iron pipes are rusting consider replacing them. In the past, this was a messy undertaking; walls torn down and dust flying throughout a house. Current replacement piping is now made from PEX which is basically plastic tubing. This tubing is reliable and easily installed without a great deal of mess.

No one will invest in a property that has less than desirable plumbing. Many new homeowner's nightmares involve expensive work being done on their new homes plumbing. The cost of upgrading your home's plumbing is less than you think. This is a great investment.

Redecorate Your Bathroom

New fixtures and a paint job will instantly turn a drab bathroom into a stylish room. Details like a new mirror or adding crown molding will stylishly update the look of your bathroom without costing an arm and a leg. Light fixtures are an easy update that can transform the look of your bathroom.

Kitchen Improvements

The smartest investment in your home is to redecorate your kitchen. Home buyers always gravitate to the kitchen first when viewing a house for sale. Besides new appliances concentrate on the flow of your kitchen. Make sure the stove is close to the sink and that there is room to move easily around the room. Spend money on the layout of your kitchen; it is the best investment you can make in your home.

Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

by Joe Klarman

Poor curb appeal deters potential buyers and reduces the asking price of your property. Though many of the changes are merely cosmetic, they catch a buyer's eye and adds to the perceived value of your home. Try these five simple upgrades and you'll see not only an increase in the number of people who want to see the property, but an increase in what they are willing to pay.

  1. Make The Home Stand Out: There are two things that people notice when they pull up to the curb in front of your house: the mailbox and the house numbers. If your mailbox is freestanding on the side of the road, the elements dull the paint and make it look old after only a couple of years. A new mailbox costs less than $100, and takes less than an hour to install. New house numbers allow people to more easily identify the home, and gives it a modern appearance.
  2. Add Some Life: Plants add a sense of comfort and style to the exterior of the home, and make it feel liveable. You don't have to spend a fortune to add plants and increase the home's curb appeal. Window boxes are ideal for colorful flower displays, while the front stoop is a great place to add some medium sized potted plants.
  3. Pay Attention To The Door: As the gateway to the home, the door serves as the focal point for the front of the house. Over time the door gets scratched and the paint chips, leaving it looking less than ideal. Spruce up the front door with a coat of paint or a refinish, and complete the job by making the door glass shine.
  4. Give The Exterior A Facelift: Though painting the entire exterior of your home would be expensive, it generally costs less than $100 to update the trim and shutters. A fresh coat of paint makes these exterior accents pop, so even a home that's decades old looks like new.
  5. Don't Discount A Trim: Don't let a poorly maintained lawn undermine all of your other efforts to upgrade the home's curb appeal. High grass and unkempt trees give a home a rundown appearance, often making it look abandoned. This step is especially important if you plan to live in another location while you wait for the home to sell. You'll need to trim bushes and trees so nothing touches the home's exterior, while you keep the grass around two inches high.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you can't afford a poor impression when you try to sell your home. A little bit of effort goes a long way when you want to increase your home's curb appeal, but the returns you get are worth thousands of dollars.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24




Contact Information

Russell Jones Real Estate
536 Broadway East
Seattle WA 98102
Office: (206)323-0800
Direct: (206)683-5639
Fax: (206)323-9275