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Seattle Real Estate News

Find out more about real estate news, market insights, and blog content from your Seattle Real Estate Broker Carmin Russell

Sept. 14, 2016

Full Service Brokers vs Discount Brokers

Who Should I Hire?

So. It’s time – you are taking the plunge. You’ve decided to sell your home.  Now comes a major decision, should you hire a full-service real estate broker or go with a discount broker and try and save some money in the process? Both are popular options in the Seattle area so it’s important to understand the differences between them and to select the one that’s right for you.

Selling a home is an incredibly important transaction and there are several risks associated with hiring a discount broker - many of which may not be initially obvious. 


Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a discount broker:

  • A discount broker’s strategy is driven by volume. Think of the discount broker like McDonalds and the full service broker like Daniel’s Broiler. The McDonald’s broker needs to move more inventory to make a profit, meaning their service offering is limited and they don’t have time to personalize the experience and ensure that you are completely taken care of.  In other words, the discount broker is a corner cutter.
  • One way discount brokers cut corners is to hire specialized agents to handle several different aspects of the selling process. One agent stages and shows the home, another lists it and another handles the settlement process.  If there aren’t strong partnerships and hand-offs between the multiple agents, then it could lead to mis-informed buyers and a sloppy, stressful, and slow closing.
  •  Another common thread among discount brokers is to juggle multiple homes and home buyers at the same time.  They appear understaffed (and likely they are) so the needs of their clients suffer. The broker may not be returning calls in a timely fashion or passing on critical information to the home owner.  In a high pressure – blink and the deal’s gone – kind of real estate market like Seattle, communication and timeliness are crucial.

Here are some of the other experiences I have heard from clients who have previously worked with a discount broker: 

  •  The broker sat on a qualified offer for hours before passing it along to the home seller.
  • They listed the home before visiting it and omitted important information and instructions in the listing. This delayed qualified buyers from viewing the home.
  • Not communicative with potential buyers about their client’s motivation for selling – highest price, extended close, etc.  Discount brokers tend to focus on price alone so the offers don’t reflect the seller’s needs and goals.


      Let me share with you my experience with full service brokers:

  • There are many expenses associated with selling a home – advertising and posting your home on the MLS are simply two of them. A full service broker will cover additional and unforeseen expenses, whereas a discount broker may add on additional, hidden costs as the process moves forward.
  • Full service real estate brokers are client focused. They advise and consult every step of the way throughout the complicated transaction. The great brokers make it look easy, perhaps adding to the misconception that it is. Not only will your broker respond to your phone calls and requests in a timely manner, they will find qualified buyers through a personalized marketing plan, they’ll negotiate the best price for your home and will guide you through the closing.
  • While it may feel like you are paying more for a full service real estate broker vs a discount broker, you are paying for a seamless and stress-free transaction. You’re paying for professional marketing, more interest and traffic to your home. You’re paying for a seasoned negotiator who will bring you the right buyer that aligns with your needs and priorities.

Lastly, keep in mind that not all real estate brokers are created equal, it is a service business after all - which relies heavily on the professional’s capabilities, work ethic and motivation.  Make sure you take the time and do your homework when selecting a reputable real estate broker. Gather referrals from friends and family, interview each broker and make sure they have a proven service model and track record of satisfied clients.

When making your decision, I encourage you to keep the whole picture in mind.  And as always I am happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Posted in News
Aug. 23, 2016

Seattle: Home to the State’s Best Parks



It's impossible to miss Seattle's showstopping landscape. And it's really no surprise the city would have some amazing parks to drink that beauty right in!  But did you know that Seattle Parks and Recreation maintains over 400 parks every year? That’s a lot yard work.  Not only that, but RedFin has ranked Seattle as the #2 best city for “national park lovers” (Fresno, CA made #1).


Here is a list of some of the best can't miss parks Seattle has to offer:


Wallingford Steps
Wallingford Ave. N Street End at N 34th St., Seattle, WA

The “star” of this park is the large, colorful and whimsical circular mosaic found at the bottom of the Wallingford Steps. “Pond” was created Benson Shaw and Clark Weigman and features a marine motif and a variety of shapes inspired by local school children’s artwork.


Volunteer Park
1247 15th Ave. E., Seattle, 98112

One of Seattle’s crown jewels, Volunteer park is home of a conservatory which features a large orchid collection and other horticulture goodness, an historic water tower, sculptures, playground and bandstand.


Gasworks Park
2101 N. Northlake Way, Seattle, 98103

Gas Works Park features incredible 270 degree views, a large play area and play barn, and a big hill popular for flying kites.


Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Dr. E., Seattle 98112

The arboretum is home to the Japanese Garden, Wilcox footbridge, ponds, nature trails and canoe rentals.


Waterfall Garden Park
219 Second Ave. S., Seattle 98104

This small park is a hidden gem of the city featuring a 22-foot tall man-made waterfall that makes for nice, cool respite on a hot summer day or a great place to just stop and relax any time of the year.


Seattle’s Kubota Garden
Renton Ave. S. and 55tyh Ave. S., Seattle, 98118

Located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, this park features lots of flowers, small lakes, streams, forested walkways and scenic bridges.


Kerry Park
211 W Highland Dr., Seattle

This is the park to go to capture incredible photos of the Seattle skyline. It is very popular with photographers and tourist. If you want the place to yourself, you better plan your visit early.


Schmitz Preserve Park
5551 SW Admiral Way, Seattle

Ferdinand Schmitz donated 30 acres of forested trails to the city in 1907 creating a park the covers ove 53 acres total with 1.7 mile long hiking trails that are said to be steep enough that you’ll get a workout.


Kubota Garden
9817 55th Ave S, Seattle

A 20-acre Japanese garden that was originally built in 1927 by Fujitaro Kubota, a landscaper. The park used to serve as a demonstration garden for his business.


Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
SE Cougar Mountain Dr., Renton

This is King Couty’s largest park stretching more than 36 miles of hiking trails including a 2.2 mile path to Coal Creek Falls.


Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle

This park has a little bit of everything with sweeping views from a 250-foot bluff, historic lighthouse and lots of trails.


Best Playgrounds in Seattle 


Here are just some of the best hand-picked playgrounds by the editors of Red Tricycle.


Luther Burbank Park
2040 84th Ave. SE, Mercer Island 98040

Featuring an excellent playground  with swings, tunnels and climbing areas surrounded by trees and greenery. It also has tennis courts, nature trails, beaches and lots of places to have a picnic.


Cal Anderson Park
1635 11th Ave., Seattle 98122

This is the place to be during the summer as it wading pools and fountains as well as a large play area with a great climbing structure. Older kids and parents will appreciate the oversized chess set.


Saint Edward State Park
14445 Juanita Dr. NE, Kenmore, 98028

Originally a Catholic seminary, the 316-acre park include walking trails with fantastic views of Lake Washington. Two play structures can be found here, one for bigger kids and the other for little tykes. There is also a climbing wall, restrooms and picnic area.


Lincoln Park
8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle 98136

Found in West Seattle, this park features two playgrounds, a zip line, several ball fields, four miles of biking trails, another trail along the beach and an outdoor heated saltwater pool.


Green Lake Park
7201 E. Greenlake Dr. N., Seattle, 98115

In addition to its three mile paved path around the lake, this park also features a great playground and wading pool area for the summer.


Junior League Playground at Magnuson Park
7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, 98115

Looking for the largest playground for young children? You’ve found it. 20,000 feet of climbing adventures with sandboxes, swings and slides plus lots of places to picnic as well.


Jefferson Park
3801 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle, 98108

You’ll appreciate the sweeping views of the Olympics, the Cascades, Elliott Bay, Downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. Your kids will enjoy the climbing walls, sandbox, and paved trail for older bike-riding kids.


Carkeek Park
950 NW Carkeek Park Rd., Seattle, 98177

Designed with the Puget Sound in mind, this park features a salmon-shaped slide, a huge sandbox, seesaws and swings.


Mercerdale Park
3249 78th Ave. SE, Mercer Island, 98040

The park features a train theme playground surrounded by paved walkways for easy access and short walks.


Ravenna Park
5520 Ravenna Ave. NE, Seattle 98105

Red Tricycle recommends that all kids visit this park at least once as it offers a fantastic indoor playground area for inclement weather. Here you’ll find climbing structures, slides as well as ride-on cars and motorcycles.


Seward Park
5895 Lake Washington Blvd, S., Seattle 98118

The children’s play area here has interactive art for kids to play with as well as a biking and walking path along the waterfront and miles of hiking trails too.


Newcastle Beach Park
4400 Lake Washington Blvd. SE, Bellevue

Come here during the summer and stretch out on the sandy swimming beach, take a short walk on the nature trail or goof off in the train-theme playground. The park also includes a 300-foot long dock and picnic area.


State Parks


Mount Rainier (
1 hour and 41 minutes from Seattle

While still an active volcano, Mount Rainier ascends 14,410 feet above sea level and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous USA. Here you’ll find six major rivers, wildflower meadows, a large variety of wildlife and lots of trees! Open year round, Mount Rainier is a favorite hiking destination for everyone from the causal day hiker to the more hardcore.


North Cascades (
2 hours and 3 minutes from Seattle

The North Cascades National Park Complex stretches the Cascade Crest with an incredible range from the wet rain forest to the dry ponderosa pines. The complex boasts of over 1,6000 different species of plants.


Olympic National Park (
2 hours and 9 minutes from Seattle

The Olympic National Park contains almost a million acres of beautiful wilderness that include glacier-capped mountains, old growth rain forests and over 70 miles of wild coastline.

Posted in News
July 24, 2016

What You Need to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Selling your home

Preparing To Sell Your Home

You want your home to look its best before you put in on the market, but how much you’ll need to do to get your home ready for prospective buyers depends on what type of market you’re in.

In a “buyer’s market,” you’ll need to do more to entice buyers to choose your home over another. In a “seller’s market,” less will need to be done as the demand for homes are high and buyers are more willing to settle for a home that isn’t perfect.

Seattle is in a Seller’s Market so you may be able to cut some corners and still make a healthy return.

Regardless though, every home will need some prep in order for it to sell.

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Posted in News
July 7, 2016

Seattle Real Estate 2016; Can I Afford to Buy a House?

Seattle Real Estate - Are There Affordable Homes For Sale In Seattle? image credit suphakit73

Real Estate Trends in 2016 - Buying a House in Seattle

You may have read the most recent Seattle real estate news that home prices rose another step higher in April. According to KOMO real estate news, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 5.4 percent in April compared with a year earlier but Seattle has risen by 10.7 percent. The old “supply and demand” is to blame as Seattle’s healthy job market has caused “shrinking inventories” of houses for sale in Seattle.

Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia says, "While strong price growth in these markets should help increase inventory in the coming months, homes will be significantly less affordable for homebuyers than this time last year.” According to Redfin, about 56% of houses up for sale get sold for more than the asking price and about 75% of those homes have received multiple offers compared to 55% four years ago.

While this continues to be good news for sellers, it may also dampen the spirits of those wanting to buy, but there is hope for those looking in the Seattle real estate market.

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Posted in News
June 24, 2016

Finding the Best Schools in Seattle

Where Are The Best Schools?

Finding the right home in a good school district is a big deal and a recent survey conducted by proves it. 91% of nearly 1,000 respondents said that locating school boundaries were important when searching for a new home, but figuring out which school district is the best for your family can be tough.

Often, homes set in the boundaries of the best school districts in Washington state sell for more than a similar-sized or styled home in a lesser desirable Seattle school district. A good healthy school can even benefit homebuyers who do not intend to send children to the classrooms as they provide for a stable community and good property values.

Three great sources to consider when comparing schools and school districts is the annual reports from Washington Achievement Index, the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings and Private School Review.

Washington Achievement Awards

The Washington Achievement Award is based on the Washington Achievement Index. Schools must meet the 95% participation rate on state tests to be eligible. Schools are recognized in seven categories

•  Overall Excellence

•  High Progress

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Posted in News
May 30, 2016

Greater Seattle Area Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods In The Seattle Area - What Fits You?

Here is a summary of some of the most searched neighborhoods and cities in the Greater Seattle Area. To help your Seattle real estate search, I've included unique restaurant selections, transportation info, and insights such as little known destinations.



Beacon Hill


Central Area

Columbia City


Madison Valley


Rainier Valley


West Seattle 




Home of restaurateur Chef Tom Douglas and the Ballard Locks (which carries more boat traffic than any other lock in the U.S.), Ballard has a rich Scandinavian heritage and culture which is showcased at the Nordic Heritage Museum. However, the crown jewel of the neighborhood belongs to Golden Gardens Park and the Shilshole Bay Marina which provides excellent opportunities for picnics and hiking on the trails and sailing or kayaking on the water.

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Posted in News
Dec. 2, 2015

Learn Science on Seattle Property at the Pacific Science Center

Learn science on Seattle property.The Pacific Science Center gives all Seattle property owners the chance to come learn more about science, technology, and mathematics. There are numerous hands on exhibits, an IMAX theater, plenty of great educational programs, and special events that take place here. Many of the exhibits change often, so visit frequently to check out what is new. Come learn more about such things as the “impolite”science of the human body, health related research, math concepts, Legos, and terracotta warriors. In addition to visiting for special exhibits, consider signing children up for a camp. These are great for keeping children entertained and engaged during summer and winter breaks.

Once a month, parents are also invited to enjoy an evening away from their Seattle property in downtown Seattle while children are supervised at the Pacific Science Center. Children have the chance to explore the exhibits after hours and are treated to a snack and a planetarium or laser light snow. Families are also invited to spend time together at the science center. Many people come to view an IMAX movie. Choose from a Hollywood blockbuster or a purely educational film. There is much to do and see at the Pacific Science Center and the surrounding area. Take a look at the Pacific Science Center to learn more and plan your adventure.

Posted in News
Dec. 2, 2015

Tour Underground Seattle Real Estate with Bill Speidel

Tour underground Seattle real estate.All Seattle real estate owners are invited to come learn more about the history of this grand city on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Many people don’t know that the main roadways and first floor storefronts that lined downtown Seattle in the early days are now located underneath the city. Come find out why and hear other interesting and quirky stories about how this city came to be. This is not your average, dry history tour. It is a true adventure with a guide that will keep you on your toes and provide plenty of laughter.

Come join a tour that starts in Pioneer Square at Doc Maynard’s Public House, which is a restored 1890’s saloon. Hear a short introduction and then travel through about three blocks of the underground. The tour ends in Rogues Gallery, a gift shop where many great Seattle themed items can be purchased, including the book that this tour is based on, Sons of the Profits by Bill Speidel. Every Seattle real estate owner should come on this tour to learn about the city’s beginnings. It is a great time, and a wonderful adventure to take your out of town visitors on. Visit Underground Tour's website to learn more about the tour and to buy your tickets online.

Posted in News
Dec. 2, 2015

Seattle Home Owners Shop Pike Place Market

Seattle home owners go to Pike Place Market.Pike Place Market offers those who call Seattle home the chance to visit a place truly like no other. Sure, there may be other markets around the country, but not one where men in bright orange rubber jumpers are throwing fish around, with a beautiful view of Puget Sound, many delicious places to grab a bite to eat, ridiculously good produce, and a crafts market all in one place. Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, it is easy to spend an entire day here looking around for treasures. Sample some juicy pears, search through shops full of antiques and trinkets, send some fresh seafood to jealous family members in the midwest, and listen to some great live street music.

The hustle and bustle of Pike Place Market is always invigorating. Meet local farmers and artisans who have a unique story to tell. Peruse beautiful fresh flowers to take back to your Seattle home to brighten it up on a gloomy day. Breathe the fresh salty air and feel truly alive. The market is conveniently located near the waterfront, so make a full day of it and visit other great Seattle attractions nearby like the Seattle Aquarium, Pioneer Square, or the Olympic Sculpture Park. Visit Pike Place Market to learn more about this wonderful asset to the city of Seattle and to plan a visit.

Posted in News