Embracing Deep Seattle Roots for Real Estate Success

Russ Katz

“I love people. I love going out and celebrating the transaction, doing something fun and unique, and making it memorable. It’s the kind of career you can do when you’re 80 years old if you really want to.”--Russ Katz

Russ Katz was born and raised in Seattle and has stayed in the area his whole life. After going to college at the University of Washington, he went to work for a sales and marketing company for several years. Then real estate entered his radar when everyone in his social circle started buying their first home. He figured his in-depth knowledge of Seattle and the surrounding areas, along with great people skills, would allow him to succeed in real estate, so he got his license in the spring of 2005 and hasn't looked back.

Building His Real Estate Business

When Russ first got started in real estate he’d go anywhere and everywhere to get business. He put in the hard work, did some coaching, and leveraged his social circle to get clients in those first few years. Russ isn’t the kind of guy who sticks to a strict schedule and has to make a certain number of calls every day. For him, the business has always just flowed once he got it all up and running.

“I’m an old-school guy. I still think a face-to-face meeting or even voice-to-voice is a value add for people.”

Then the crash in 2008 happened and shook up the market. But with two kids, a wife, and a mortgage, Russ put his head down and kept working hard to stay ahead of the curve. “I figured if I could weather the 08-09 recession years, there’d be a lot of upside possibilities after that,” he explains.

He weathered the storm and has achieved steady growth in his business since. Russ has been living in Magnolia for the past 22 years, and since his sphere has grown there organically over time, a large chunk of his clients are based in the area as well. At the moment, his business consists of 75% listings and 25% buyers. He loves to be part of both sides of the process because it helps keep him grounded in his approach. It’s also a great way to keep his finger on the pulse and stay tuned into the current state of the market. 

Another big shift came with COVID, which threw a wrench into everyone’s day-to-day life. Russ and his coworkers leaned on each other during the pandemic to navigate the new paradigm, and they continue to work more closely together today. More importantly, COVID gave Russ a unique chance to take a step back and evaluate his life with fresh eyes. Ultimately, his whole approach to his business changed in recent years.

“It’s changed my outlook. I’ve come to realize that life is short – it’s precious. I don’t need to chase that last deal or drive an hour away at 8 p.m. with a new client I could connect with in the morning. So I’m trying to have a calming presence, vacation more, and do more quality things in life.”

Now Russ has both a full-time assistant and part-time assistant helping out with every aspect of his business. “I’ve learned that I’m good at multi-tasking with multiple clients and life. But I've also learned I’m not a machine. I need my downtime, self-care, and recharging too,” he admits.

Looking into the Future

Outside of work, Russ spent 12 years coaching his kids’ Little League baseball teams and is married to his high school prom date, Mindy. He and Mindy will be celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary this August. Their two boys are now nearly men--one is off to the University of Arizona in the fall and the other is a sophomore at Ballard High School. And they love taking family trips together. They visited Europe this past summer and recently visited both Australia and Thailand. As Russ says, "We’ve been fortunate to do a lot of international trips in the last 10 years.”

At this point, Russ could see his real estate career taking one of two paths. Either he’ll still be doing this when he’s in his 80s or he’ll find someone else to partner with and continue in a hybrid fashion, leading toward someone else taking the business over.  

I’d eventually love to find someone 20 to 30 years younger than me, who could gradually take over my business for 2 to 3 years so I could walk off into the sunset.”