CommunityHistoric HomesTacoma Real Estate April 20, 2016

Craft Beer Makers Revitalize Tacoma’s Historic Brewery District

Tacoma was recently featured in a report by KIRO-7 news’ Kevin McCarty.  McCarty notes,

“Tacoma has always been a beer town… and these days business is booming”.  “Several independent craft beer makers are reviving the city’s historic brewery district.  Craft breweries large and small are popping up in and around the city’s historic brewery district along Pacific avenue in roughly the same area that once housed three large brewers a century ago. Heidelberg, Columbia and the original Pacific breweries once operated very close to an area now seeing an explosion of beer makers.  From 19th street to south 55, large independent breweries are up and running or in the works with several small micro-brewers also dotting the area. Recently Gig Harbor based Seven Seas has announced they’ll open a large scale operation after converting an old warehouse near S. 21st and Jefferson streets.”

For those of us that love beer and Tacoma… this is certainly a “win-win.”

Click here to read the full article!



Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.   Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.





Market StatisticsNorth TacomaTacoma Real Estate January 21, 2016

North End Home Prices Continue to Strengthen

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Market StatisticsTacoma Real Estate December 5, 2015

Why is Tacoma a Top 10 Housing Market to Watch in 2016

Tacoma recently ranked as number 10 on Trulia’s top 10 housing markets to watch in 2016, a list that also included cities like Grand Rapids, MI, Charleston, SC and Austin, TX (see the full report here).  Trulia’s rankings were based on a number of different criteria including strong job growth, low vacancy rates and high affordability.  I think high affordability was probably key to Tacoma’s inclusion on the list.  Though some of our buyer clients that are new to the Tacoma housing market have commented that prices here are high compared to where they’re coming from, the Tacoma housing market clearly remains a great value proposition when compared to Seattle where the median home price is more than twice as high.  As the tech industry continues to grow in Seattle, Tacoma will continue to represent a very attractive alternative to call home.  Not surprisingly, we’re seeing more and more folks from Seattle making the move to T-Town.  I think it’s that demand in particular that led to our inclusion on Trulia’s list of hot market’s to watch in the coming year.  To be clear though, Tacoma’s appeal isn’t just about being within commuting distance of Seattle.  For those of us lucky enough to live and work in Tacoma, it actually represents a preferable alternative.  A vibrant, livable small city with a big metropolitan hub nearby to visit when the mood strikes.


Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.





Market StatisticsNorth TacomaTacoma Real Estate October 27, 2015

North End Homes Prices Continue to Strengthen

Sales data for third quarter 2015 are in, and unlike previous years where we've seen a weaking in third quarter in north end home values, this year we've seen the market remain strong.  Inventory levels are a incredibly low levels.  We expect a slow down due to seasonality in the fourth quarter but all indications are full steam ahead for home values in north Tacoma for the new year.  For sales comparisons by zip code please see the information attached below.


Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.   Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.


Historic HomesNorth TacomaTacoma Real Estate September 17, 2014

The Vintage Y – Home in Tacoma’s Theater District


One of the things I love most about selling real estate in downtown Tacoma is introducing clients to the different condominium buildings there – some shiny and new and others tastefully restored.  The Vintage Y at 714 Market Street falls into the tastefully restored category.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was designed by prominent local architect George Bullard and built in 1909 to house the Tacoma chapter of the YMCA.  As one of the first chapters in the Pacific Northwest, the Y provided its members with athletic facilities and a robust vocational education program. The YMCA vacated the building on Market Street in 1977, and it was ultimately converted into luxury condominiums dubbed the Vintage Y in 2005. Building amenities include a secure lobby and parking garage, a roof-top deck with barbecue, an outdoor patio, a fitness room and a guest suite.


The Vintage Y is located in the heart of Tacoma's historic theater district.  Nearby venues include the Pantages, the Rialto, Theater on the Square and the Tacoma Armory (all managed by the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts) Upcoming Broadway Center events include the Heritage Blues Orchestra at the Rialto, Spectrum Dance Theater at the Armory and The Capitol Steps at the Pantages.  The theater district is also home to the Grand Cinema, which offers an excellent selection of first run independent films.  Corina Bakery conveniently located next to the Grand on Fawcett, is great for a quick bite before or after the movies.  Deanna Bender’s Over the Moon Café on Opera Alley is one of my favorites for a casual lunch or special dinner.  The service is great, the décor is eclectic and the food’s delicious.  When I’m in the market for some new household furnishings, I like Giraffe and Dwelling, both on St. Helens.


Another great thing about the Vintage Y is its proximity to 27-acre Wright Park – a jewel of a green space that includes an arboretum, a playground, a running path and a pond complete with a bridge and waterside benches.  If you haven’t checked out the Vintage Y, the Theater District or Wright Park lately, you should.  Well worth the visit.  For more information about living at the Vintage Y and properties currently available for purchase, visit





Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.




Historic HomesTacoma Real Estate August 14, 2014

Misconceptions about Tacoma’s Historic Homes and Neighborhoods

There are a lot of misconceptions about historic homes and historic districts in Tacoma.  As a Realtor, a former board member of Historic Tacoma and a current member of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission, I’m often asked about the potential impact that historic designation might have on a property.  Many people worry that historic designation is a negative thing.  I believe (and I think the data supports me on this) that just the opposite is true.  Inclusion on the historic register has been proven to increase the value of a property and also allows for property tax credits related to home renovations.  For me, Tacoma's historic buildings and neighborhoods are a big part of what makes it so special, and I think it’s important to protect that heritage.  Below are some common misconceptions about properties included on the historic register and homes that are contributing structures in a designated historic district.


Misconception #1 – I can’t make any changes to the house.

FALSE – Interior changes to a property on the historic register do not require any additional approval above and beyond regular city permitting.  If you want to remodel a kitchen or a bathroom or upgrade plumbing, electrical or heating, the permitting and approval process is exactly the same as any non-historic home in Tacoma.  Exterior changes to the home do require approval from the Landmark Preservation Commission (a process called design review).  For guidelines about the type of exterior changes that require design review, visit the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation website.


Misconception #2 – I can’t replace any windows or doors in the house.

FALSE – While it's true that you can't replace existing wood windows with vinyl or metal windows, you are alowed to replace rotting or deteriorated windows with wood replacements.  Existing wood windows can also be repaired.  Older windows may be painted shut, sash chords and weights may not be operating properly or windows may be missing putty that holds the glazing in place.  These issues can be easily and inexpensively addressed with repairs, saving you thousands of dollars in replacement costs.  Of note, the life expectancy of a vinyl window is only about 20 years.  Properly maintained wood windows last a lifetime.  Studies also show that single pane wood windows with well fitted exterior storm windows provide the same energy efficiency as dual glazed windows.  For more information about wood windows versus vinyl, please check out my blog “Why replacing wood windows is a costly mistake.”


Misconception #3 – It’s harder to sell a historic home because of all the restrictions.

FALSE – A number of studies have been done over the years showing that property values increase dramatically when a neighborhood is designated as a historic district.  A study conducted in Tucson, AZ showed that home values in a historic district there were 30% higher on average than similar homes in non-historic neighborhoods and that homes in the historic district appreciated at a rate that was 15% greater than their non-historic counterparts.  It pays to be historic!  For additional findings, visit the American Council on Historic Preservation.


Misconception #4 – The “historic police” will tell me what I can and can’t do to my house.

FALSE – As long as you maintain your home properly, you'll never have to worry about additional scrutiny, and trees and landscaping don't fall within the scope of historic protection.  The good news for historic properties located in Tacoma is that there is now a mechanism in place to protect structures on the historic register from neglect and ruin.  The purpose is to avoid demolition of the structures.  Click here to learn more about Tacoma’s Historic Property Maintenance Code.





Misconception #5 – All old structures are considered historic.

FALSE – There are only about 1,300 structures in Tacoma that are on the local, state, or national historic registers.  Only structures individually listed on the Tacoma Historic Register or located within a Tacoma historic district are protected.  Designated historic districts in Tacoma include the Wedge, North Slope, Old City Hall and the Union Depot/Warehouse districtSalmon Beach is on the Washington Register, and Stadium District is on the National Register.

I’ve outlined a number of benefits to owning a historic home – from increased property values to the protection of our city's heritage.  If you’d like to learn more about how to place your home on the historic register, or would like to learn about the implications associated with buying or selling a historic home, please contact me or visit the City of Tacoma’s Preservation website at  


Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Jeff is also a former board member of Historic Tacoma, and currently serves on the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.


Architecture May 9, 2014

What Makes a House a “Craftsman?”

As a Realtor who comes from Pasadena, California (the birthplace of Craftsman architecture), and a current member of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission, nothing makes me crazier than real estate agents who incorrectly market houses as a Craftsman.  It is our job as Realtors to understand houses!  Craftsman is a distinct historic architectural style, and 95% of the time does not apply to new or newer construction.
Since we have tremendous examples of intact Craftsman homes all over Tacoma, I thought I’d explain to you, our astute real estate clients and followers, exactly what defines a Craftsman, and why.  


History: The Craftsman was the dominant style for smaller houses built throughout the country during the period from about 1905 until the 1920s. It originated in southern California and most landmark examples of Craftsman houses are concentrated there. The style quickly spread throughout the country via pattern books and popular magazines, but rapidly faded from favor after the mid-1920s.  These residences were given extensive publicity in such magazines as the Western Architect, The Architect, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, Architectural Record, Country Life in America, and Ladies’ Home Journal, thus familiarizing the rest of the nation with the style. As a result, a flood of pattern books appeared, offering plans for Craftsman bungalows; some even offered completely pre-cut packages of lumber and detailing to be assembled by local labor (referred to as “kit” houses). Through these kit houses, the one-story Craftsman house quickly became the most popular and fashionable smaller house in the country.

Character Defining Features:   Although these are considered the most typical character defining features of a Craftsman, not all of these will apply to each Craftsman-style building.

  • Low-Pitched Gabled (or sometimes Hipped Roof)
  • Wide, Unenclosed Eave Overhang
  • Timber Framed
  • Triangular Knee Brace Supports
  • Wood Shingle Siding and/or Wood Horizontal Siding and/or Cut Stone Cladding
  • Wide Window and Door Casings
  • Tapered Porch Supports
  • Low Porch Pedestals usually Supporting Columns
  • Exposed Rafters
  • Decorative (False) Beams or Braces under Gables
  • Shed, Gabled or Eyebrow Dormers
  • Porches, either Full- or Partial-Width
  • Sloping (Battered) Foundation


Types of Craftsman:


Cottage Style Craftsman – Typically a one-story building with a compact rectangular plan; a centralized main entrance consisting of a partial-width porch and flanked by windows; a symmetrical facade; a side-gabled low-pitched roof; horizontal wood siding; and Craftsman stylistic details.









The Bungalow – The typical bungalow is a one-story house with low pitched broad gables. A lower gable usually covers an open or screened porch and a larger gable covers the main portion of the house. In larger bungalows the gable is steeper, with interesting cross gable or dormers. 








Clipped-Gabled (Hip Roof) Craftsman – A Craftsman building covered by a gabled roof which has had its gable point “clipped off.” The roof can be front, side or cross-gabled. Typically this type of Craftsman is a one-story building. Sometimes the clipped-gabled roof will have gabled, hipped or eyebrow dormers.










Colonial Craftsman – A Craftsman building which displays Colonial Revival features. Typically, this type of Craftsman has a trellised front and/or side porches, symmetrical façade and columns.








Aero-plane Craftsman – A Craftsman building with a set-back second-story and wide overhanging eaves which gives the impression of an airplane wings. This style can have a front, side or cross-gabled roof.








Transitional – A building which appears to be “transitioning” from the Victorian-era into the Craftsman-era. Typically, this type of house retains a vertical emphasis on the facade and Victorian-era design elements, but is differentiated by its Craftsman features.









Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Jeff is also a former board member of Historic Tacoma, and currently serves on the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.




Buying A HomeHistoric HomesHome RemodelInvesting In Real Estate April 2, 2014

Five Major Considerations When Buying an Old House

As a commissioner for the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission and a former board member of Historic Tacoma, I've had a lot of experience with historic properties.  I've also been buying, renovating and selling historic homes myself for more than twenty years (45 houses and counting).  Not surprisingly, clients often seek my advice when they're thinking about buying an older house.  With the busy spring home buying season upon us, I thought it might be a good time to share some thoughts about what to consider when buying a historic home.  Below, I describe some of the “big ticket” replacement and repair costs that you may incur during the restoration of an older home.  It's important to note that there are loan programs and tax credits available to help defray some of these costs if you are buying a historic home in Tacoma.


1.  Not all old houses are created equal.  In my experience, houses built before 1900 were generally more poorly constructed than those built from 1900-1950.  The exception to this rule would be what I call the "robber baron" homes.  These turn of the century mansions were built with higher quality materials and engineering practices than more modest cottages built at the same time.  The grander homes are standing the test of time well.  The worker cottages, less so.  Smaller Victorian (pre-1900) homes were often built on posts and piers or loose rock/brick and mortar foundations.  In some instances, these foundations were later replaced or supplemented with concrete or block foundations, and settling issues are common.  This isn't necessarily a deal breaker.  Newer technologies allow for the levelling and repair of these foundations without breaking the bank.


 2.        Old houses aren’t usually insulated.  Builders didn't really begin insulating homes until the late teens and early twenties, and even then they generally just added cellulose (paper pulp) to the exterior walls and attics at very low insulating levels.  If you’ve ever demolished the ceiling in an older home, you'll know what I’m talking about.  You’re probably still discovering bits of the pulverized paper in your hair, ears and clothes.  If you’re doing a major remodel to a home, it makes sense to strip off the old interior plaster down to the studs so that the wiring and plumbing can be updated and insulation can be added.  If you’re not doing a major renovation, my advice would be to simply add insulation to the attic and underneath the first floor to increase the insulation value as much as possible.    Learn more about insulation at


3.      Are the mechanical systems up to date?  When buying an old house, people often encounter things like knob and tube wiring, galvanized and lead pipes, oil burning furnaces the size of a Winnebago and broken sewer lines.  Older systems aren't necessarily a problem, but a thorough pre-purchase home inspection can identify failing systems in need of immediate attention.  Be sure to factor the cost of plumbing, electrical and heating system upgrades into the purchase price of a home before you make an offer, and make sure you can afford to repair or replace these systems as it becomes necessary during your ownership.



4.       Original windows and doors are great.  Leave them alone!  Nothing frustrates me more than buyers who immediately think they have to replace all of the original doors and windows in a house.  It is significantly more cost effective to repair original windows and doors and install storm windows.  They’ll be just as energy efficient and will last exponentially longer than their cheap vinyl counterparts.  For more details regarding wood windows versus vinyl, check out my blog post regarding that subject here. 




5.       How many layers are on the roof?  Many older homes in Tacoma originally had wood shingle roofs with no underlayment to support a modern roof.  Over time, home owners have simply shingled over the original roof.  If a roof has three layers or more, it's no longer a candidate for re-shingling.  The roof will have to be completely torn off, and an underlayment of plywood or particle board will need to be installed before the new roofing material can be added.  Tear offs are three times as expensive as simple re-shingling so it's helpful to know how many layers a roof has before writing an offer to purchase an older home. 




Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.











Investing In Real EstateNorth TacomaTacoma Real Estate March 11, 2014

Investing in Houses in Tacoma’s North End

The demand for rental homes in Tacoma’s North End is high, with landlords charging as much as $1800-$2000 per month for a nice three bedroom house in a desirable location like Proctor or the Stadium District. 

Many homeowners were able to secure extremely low interest rates by refinancing when the market was low, which prompts some to consider holding on to their primary residence as a rental property when purchasing their next home.  Residential real estate in Tacoma’s North End is certainly a great investment.  With the economy stabilizing and job growth expanding in our area, some are predicting as much as a 20% gain in market values over the next 3 years.  


So whether it’s a property that you purchase specifically as a rental or a primary residence that you’ve decided to convert into a rental, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before deciding to become a landlord.


                5 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Renting Your Home

1.    Do you know how to screen potential tenants?  Credit-worthiness?  Employment and rental history? You can find out more about tenant screening at Bigger Pockets.

2.    Will you allow pets?  Cats?  Dogs?  Large?  Small?  Allowing pets will obviously increase your potential applicant pool, but pets can take a toll on a house which might cost you more than it’s worth in the long run.

3.    If your house is located near the University of Puget Sound, will you rent to students?  You may be able to earn more income if you rent by the room, but you can also expect more wear and tear on the property.

4.    Have you talked to your insurance company to find out if there will be an increase in your premium if you convert to a landlord’s policy?  You can find out options from our preferred insurance agent Jerry Hallman at Farmers.

5.    Have you spoken with your accountant about the potential tax implications associated with owning and/or selling an investment property?  Capital gains taxes are easier to avoid when selling a primary residence than they are when selling a rental property.

Another route to consider would be purchasing a property for use as a short term rental.  The startup and maintenance costs (furnishings, utilities, supplies etc.) may be greater and the property will require more hands on attention, but the earning potential of a daily, weekly or monthly rental will be higher.  There are a number of sites available for marketing a short term rental, including, and  Lastly, if you’re reluctant to deal with the active management of a rental property, you can always enlist the assistance of a property management company.  Locally we recommend Parkwood Property Management and McNally Property Management .  If you’re interested in purchasing an investment property, let us know.  We’d be happy to help you navigate the waters.


Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.




LifestyleNorth TacomaTacoma Real Estate February 17, 2014

Top 5 Reasons to Live In Proctor

The Proctor District is one of  North Tacoma’s most popular neighborhoods.  Historic homes, great public schools, tree lined streets, views of the water and a charming central business district are just a few of the things that make this neighborhood so special.  For those who aren’t familiar with Proctor (and for those who are already fans), I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about the place we call home.


Metropolitan Market – Met Market is the undeniable anchor of the Proctor District.  This upscale grocery store caters to a sophisticated palate, with many locally sourced products, an outstanding cheese department and a wine steward.  Met Market could feel some heat if Whole Foods delivers on their promise to open a store in University Place, but the neighborhood feel at the Met will always be hard to beat.




Chalet Bowl – This family owned and operated 12-lane bowling alley “strikes” a wonderful balance between old school Americana and new school hip.  The lanes are well maintained, the staff is extremely friendly and the weekly bargain specials are hard to resist.  Two words.  Glow Bowling.






Wheelock Public Library – This local library has been serving the community since 1927 and is much used and much loved by children and adults alike.  An iconic bronze statue of Tacoma pioneer and early businessman Allen Mason located adjacent to the library is often whimsically decorated to befit the season.




Puget Park – Located at the corner of Proctor and N. 31st Street, Puget Park was one of the first green spaces to be donated to the city of Tacoma for public use in 1888.  The park features an updated play area and a picnic-perfect grassy knoll.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can follow a trail down through Puget Gulch to the waterfront for a wilderness experience right in the heart of the city.




Blue Mouse Theater – Originally opened in 1923 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Blue Mouse is Washington State’s oldest continuously operating movie theater.  A group of local activists and preservationists purchased and restored the theater in 1993.  Dale Chihuly reportedly designed the blue neon mice that grace the marquis.




Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.