Summer of 2019 Recap + Market Update

Just a quick check-in after a busy summer (phew!) with an update on some of my favorite projects this summer.

I had the opportunity to help two families move away for better jobs, one family move here for a better job, two sets of first-time home buyers, one couple purchasing their first home together, one couple that’s new to Washington, and one new investor. I love helping people make transitions in their lives!

Sold / Summer 2019

The market continued to be strong in summer of 2019. Residential real estate in Bellingham hovered around approximately 1.6 months of inventory all summer — which is still considered a seller’s market. (A balanced market is considered 6 months of inventory.) Five out of 8 of the above properties were multiple offer situations. Successful buyers, especially in the Bellingham area, acted swiftly and strategically.

In August, the median sales price of all residential in Bellingham was $407,2500. If we look at single-family homes only (remove the condo market) that number jumps to $437,250. (In January that number was $420,000, so we have had steady appreciation throughout 2019.)

Average days on market in Bellingham hasn’t peaked above 32 days all year. As one might imagine, properties under $400,000 had even lower average days on market, between 25 and 27. Anecdotally however, many listings pended within one week.

I’m currently feeling a bit of a slowdown, but it’s hard to say how much is seasonal and how much is a true softening of the market. Unemployment is historically low. Interest rates are still low, and based on how many out-of-state buyers have been calling me, I feel like Bellingham is officially on the map as a super desirable place to live.

Just Listed: Waterfront Property on Guemes Island

I just listed this gorgeous .4 acre waterfront property on Guemes Island. This high-bank lot features stunning madrone trees and the most peaceful southwesterly views of the Guemes Channel and San Juan Islands.

It’s located on a quiet, private street in the Holiday Hideaway neighborhood. The properties in this neighborhood have beach access at three coves. There’s even a boat ramp just a short walk away.

While I was there last (for a total of maybe 60 minutes) I saw three eagles flying overhead. What an amazing spot!

Cypress Way Guemes Island

Lots of preliminary work has been done on this property including lot certification with Skagit County, and a Critical Areas/GeoTech report. The water share has been paid for. There’s power at the road. Preliminary septic design work has identified a probable area. This is a great opportunity for somebody to have the ultimate PNW island experience at an affordable price!

Let the video speak for itself…

Lot 2 Cypress Wy
.400 ac/17,424 sf
List price $149,000
MLS 1423444

How to Win in a Multiple Offer Situation

I’ve been reflecting on the first few weeks of 2019. It’s been a very busy start of the year working with buyers. Many people are surprised to hear that we’re still seeing a lot of multiple offers in the Bellingham market. Here are my thoughts on the difference between those that are winning the deals, and those that are losing—and most importantly, how to set yourself up for success.

Best Holiday Shopping in Downtown Bellingham

Christmas is just around the corner, which for me means, cue the gift giving anxiety! I never know what to give certain friends and family members who seem to already have everything, so over the last year I’ve been mentally taking note of some downtown Bellingham’s best gift shopping options. So here’s my list—and in no particular order!

BabyGreens

1201 Cornwall #103

Plants are an instant way to breathe life into a dull space. And who doesn’t love a new gorgeous house plant? I actually cannot contain my excitement about BabyGreens, a tiny and magical store that offers a beautiful assortment of lush houseplants and a carefully curated collection of modern pots.

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BabyGreens has a lot of adorable succulent plants, gorgeous hanging plants, and some really nice large fiddle head figs. Pretty much every on-trend stylish plant imaginable.

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Don’t have a green thumb yourself? Don’t be intimidated. Owner Nick Meza and his staff can help answer questions related to the care preferences and requirements of each plant. There’s also quite a few fool-proof options to choose from — he can hook you up!

Ormolulu

301 W Holly St.

For truly exceptional one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, Ormolulu can’t be beat. Located in the Bay St Village building, Ormolulu is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable places to shop. You can’t go in there necessarily expecting to find a specific thing… it’s way more fun to visit with open mindedness and wonder because you never know what amazing item you’ll find.

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Ormolulu is known for their exceptional repurposed/rewired vintage lighting. They also rework vintage and antique furniture. Right now my absolute favorite items in stock are the selection of vintage Christmas decor! So many cute things (but be forewarned: their selection is flying out the door right now.)

Bonus: Ormolulu is open every single day until Christmas!

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Old World Deli

1228 N State St

Old World Deli

Isn’t this a sandwich spot? It sure is. And an amazing one at that. But this deli is also stocked with an interesting array of gourmet foods, which make it the perfect holiday gift-buying spot for your foodie friends. From truffle polenta mix to gourmet spices and sauces, to interesting cocktail fixings, there’s definitely a delicious array of giftable treats. It’s the type of stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself (maybe you would..but I tend to not buy myself expensive salts and marinades), but you’d love to receive as a gift.

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Old World Deli

Apse Adorn

1307 Cornwall Ave.

This husband and wife duo design the most gorgeous and simple jewelry! They primarily sold online until the fall of 2017, when they opened up their brick and mortar location on Cornwall. What a delightful addition to downtown Bellingham! This is the perfect place to buy a gift for a person who appreciates stylish, modern accessories.

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Every time I go in to this shop, I find a new piece that I love. Some of their pieces are very understated, and others are bold—but it’s never overdone. Their jewelry craft takes place in the back room, making it simple to size pieces for you. You can also browse their selection online.

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Through the holidays, Apse is hosting a pop up shop from Makeworth Market, which will be opening a retail location and cafe in downtown Bellingham in early 2019. So currently there’s a nicely curated collection of PNW-worthy goods added to the mix.

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Ideal

1227 Cornwall Ave.

Ideal is a reliable go-to spot for unique and modern gifts primarily in the home and lifestyle categories. This is the perfect place to shop for the design enthusiast in your life. You’ll find cool trinkets, vessels and textiles—from well-known brands such as Marimekko and Chilewich to lesser known but equally as cool brands such as KLT Works, a local PNW artist. You can pick up a Stendig wall calendar, or a Tivoli Audio bluetooth radio speaker. They have interesting Scandinavian and Japanese glassware and other items of interest. Lots to choose from!

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During my most recent visit, I was really obsessing over these gorgeous handmade bowls from KLT Works.

Ideal Bellingham

Hot Tip: Ideal also has a nice selection of baby and children’s gifts! I love their artsy children’s books.

Of course there are other fantastic shops in downtown Bellingham, but these are my 2018 picks for holiday gift giving in a pinch. I think you can find unique, gift-worthy items at each of these stores…and lots of potential items for the tough-to-buy-for people in your life. Have fun and good luck!

Installing Solar Panels in Bellingham

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We recently had Western Solar out to our office to give a presentation on solar power, and specifically how it works in Bellingham and across Western Washington. Here’s a little recap of what I learned.

The basics of solar power

Solar power captures sunlight and uses it to power your home.  Roof mounted panels capture the sunlight and send the converted electricity to an inverter in your home that then uses the electricity in the home, and gives any excess power back to the utility company.  Any power given back to your power company allows you to build up energy credits for times when you are not producing enough energy like night time or dark winter days.

Solar power in rainy and gray Washington?

Many people wonder if solar is a viable option in Western Washington because of our latitude and climate. Actually, our long and sunny summer days make for great solar energy production!

You can expect to get about 24 percent less electricity per panel in this area than cities such as Austin, TX, or Miami, FL,. Western Washington receives 30 percent less solar per year than Southern California, and 20 percent more than Germany, which interestingly enough, is the world leader in solar installations.

The upside of solar in Washington is that solar is less expensive to install per watt here than sunnier states like California, Nevada, or Texas. This helps offset the lower production. 

Bellingham is a great place to install solar

In fact, I was surprised to learn that Bellingham is one of the most cost effective areas in the entire country to install and operate solar systems! One of the reasons is competition. There’s more solar installation companies locally than in other markets, which drives the price down. And, we have the largest provider of solar energy technology in North America right in our backyard (operating out of facilities on the Bellingham waterfront): Itek, which is now Silfab Solar.

Federal and state incentives

There is a 30 percent federal tax credit available for solar installed prior to the end of 2019.  It drops to 26 percent in 2020 and then to 22 percent in 2021.

Washington State has recently been offering an 18 cent rebate check for every KW of power you produce per year for the next 8 years, up to 50% of the cost of your solar power system.

Combining state and federal benefits you may be able to get up to 80 percent of the cost of your systems back.

Cost benefit of solar conversion

Providing you were able to take full advantage of both state and federal benefits it would take an average of between 6 and 8 years to “break even” on the upfront cost of installing a solar system.  Since solar systems are rated to have a life span exceeding 20 years that would be like having 12 to 14 years of “free power” out of the next 20.

Your home’s value

In addition to financial benefits to your power bill, having an effective solar power system installed on a home also increases its market value. A Forbes magazine article estimated that a home got an increase in value in the 3 percent or $14,000 range when the home had a solar power system installed.

When is the right time?

With the significant federal tax credit that is getting smaller over the next few years, it feels like now is the time to invest in solar. However, one thing to consider is that you need to have a relatively new roof before you install solar, as it wouldn’t be prudent to install panels on a roof with short life span.

When you are ready, the experts at Western Solar will come out and do a free assessment that will give you a fairly accurate idea of how much production you’ll receive on your own roof (based on the number of panels, the angle of the sun, your shaded areas, etc). This will help you decide if it makes sense for you to invest in a solar system.

Because the tax incentives are so good right now, the demand is high. Solar installation companies are quite booked out (well into 2019 from what I’ve heard) so if you’re thinking about going solar, it’s best to get on the list right away!

Is the real estate market slowing down?

My clients and friends keep asking me if the market is slowing down.

The answer is...yes and no.

Being a regional company with offices from the Portland area to a Bellingham is great because we get regional market updates that help us anticipate market shifts.

In this morning’s meeting, our CEO, Mike Grady, said, “We are still a long way from being a balanced market. We are still leaning towards being a seller's market over a buyer's market.”

Coldwell Banker Bain CEO Mike Grady in Bellevue on the big screen at a sales meeting in Bellingham.

Coldwell Banker Bain CEO Mike Grady in Bellevue on the big screen at a sales meeting in Bellingham.

What does a “balanced market” mean exactly?

A balanced market is one that doesn’t favor buyers or sellers, and has about 5-6 months of inventory.

Across the NWMLS, we had 1.9 months of inventory in June, and it was up to 2.9 months by September. By the end of the year we anticipate 3.5 months of inventory. So... inventory is creeping up giving buyers more options.

In Bellingham, our inventory has been inching up slightly throughout the year—but the key word is slightly. We’re still well below the 5 or 6 months mark that a balanced market requires.

Months of Real Estate Inventory in Bellingham


I’m personally competing against fewer offers when representing buyers lately. But I’m not sure we’re headed for a significant market correction.

Why? A big influencer is that the economy is still strong. Washington state is adding about 10,000 jobs per month. And only 3,000-4,000 building permits are being issued per month. The demand for housing is still there.

However, interest rates are ticking up, currently sitting right around 5%. There is no real way of knowing exactly what rates will do, but most lenders expect about a 3 rate increase over the next year. That could mean a rate of 5.5%, some say 5.75%, in 2019. Rising interest rates definitely reduce buying power so it it will be interesting to see how that impacts the market.

So, will it be as hot of a market as early 2018? Probably not. Will it drastically change? Probably not. According to Grady, “In Portland and Seattle and the entire I-5 corridor, we anticipate that it will be mostly the same kind of market through the end of 2018 and throughout 2019. Right now there’s no logical reason to believe we won’t lean more towards a seller's market for the next 18 months or so.”



Sold on South Hill

It was truly an honor to represent and sell this stunningly stylish view home in the South Hill neighborhood this summer.

Originally built in the 50’s, 420 17th St was renovated to perfection by a builder/designer duo. It offered all the fun stuff: Ann Sacks and Statements Tile, Miele and Viking appliances, Terrazzo epoxied garage floors. Every single corner was cool and cute. And it had a fantastically landscaped large yard, rare on South Hill.

I called it a unicorn. Homes this dialed in — and set up for modern day living — rarely exist in this neighborhood. That was definitely a reason why this sale was so successful.

Listed at $1,175,000, it sold for $1,212,000 in six days. That’s 103% of list price, the highest of any $1 million+ home in the South Hill neighborhood in the last 10 years.

The house was a show stopper in and of itself, but we also did our marketing. I did two professional photoshoots, aerial drone photography, and a video. I also built a custom website for this one. In addition, I sent direct mail and launched multiple social media promotions. This listing had over 15,000 impressions on Facebook alone!

Some of you know that I live in the South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham. I love this neighborhood. Living here helps me really understand this unique neighborhood market. I feel lucky to raise my children here. It’s a special community where people stay a long time. This seller raised her family here too. She was involved in the Lowell Elementary School PTA just like I am now. Which is why it was really special that I got to use Coldwell Banker Bain’s Community Partnership Program, and donate 10 percent of commissions to the PTA.

All around…a truly magical sale!

Just listed: Stunningly stylish South Hill modern

This week, I had the opportunity to list a true unicorn of a property. Located in the coveted South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham, this sophisticated home is over 3,000 square feet with impeccable style and finishes throughout. 

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THE STATS

  • 4 beds
  • 1 full bath, plus 2 .75 baths
  • 3093 sq ft
  • 1780 sq feet—including master suite—located on the main level
  • Gourmet kitchen including Viking and Miele appliances
  • Radiant heated floors in kitchen and baths
  • High-end Euroline windows and doors
  • Solar panels
  • .25 acre property 
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This beautiful home was renovated with supreme thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Not only is it fully set up for easy modern day living, but everywhere you look there's a wonderful surprise. Like the custom built-ins in the living and dining room (which happened to be milled using a cherry tree that had to be cut down in the yard). Or the custom-designed steel fences and railings. Or the modern custom paneling. Or the under-stair storage. Or the terrazzo-style epoxy floors in the garage. Altogether these details come together to make this home incredibly impressive.

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And there's just so much style everywhere you look. I'm completely in love with the tile choices (all from Statements, Ann Sacks and Pental). 

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This house also features So. Much. Storage. And look at this office of my dreams...

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Last but not least, at 10,890 sq ft, this property has an enviable yard. Not only is it super private, but it's also fully terrace and usable, which is so rare on South Hill.

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And of course, the sunsets are spectacular. 

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Homes like this—so impeccable with so much style—just don't come around on South Hill very often.

Listed at $1,175,000. MLS #: 1326216. 

You can view more at https://www.420-17th.com/ 

 

Just listed: Beautiful and large charmer with income potential!

It's rare to see such a dialed in home — let alone such a large one, that sits rather charismatically, on a quiet dead-end street. Let alone one with such an impressive income history from a separate unit downstairs. 

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Welcome to 2021 Whatcom Ln, a mid-century that has been lovingly restored by a builder and interior designer over the last six years.

BASIC STATS:

-3,345 sq ft
-3 bedroom
-1 full bath plus two .75 baths
-9,583 sq ft lot

This home features a gorgeous modern country kitchen, a HUGE living room with a fossil stone fireplace and territorial views, and an impressive master suite. Every single square inch has been stylishly renovated.

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One of the coolest features of this house is the separate entrance to a lower level area, which has used as a short-term rental, bringing in between $17,000-20,000 per year for the last few years. (How would YOU like some passive income paying for your mortgage? Sign me up.)

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The "White Orchid" - 5 star reviews. Check it out on VRBO! 

The "White Orchid" - 5 star reviews. Check it out on VRBO! 

This home also features a 2-car attached garage... and really beautiful landscaping that evokes a European villa vibe. Check out the wine grape trellis on the south side of the house (below).

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This gem is offered at $639,000 and it won't last long. Please call for a showing today!

Sold in April

I had two fantastic whirlwind sales in April!  A super cool Frank Lloyd Wright style view home on South Hill, and a new modern farmhouse on acreage in Sedro Woolley. Here's the rundown, by the numbers!

304 Morey Ave, South Hill, Bellingham

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By the Numbers

  • 2,168 sq ft  / 3 bed  2 bath
  • 5 days on market
  • 23 days from list to close
  • 7600+ people reached through targeted digital marketing (above and beyond traditional MLS methods)
  • Sold for $805k - the highest price per square foot on Morey Ave. in the last 5 years.
  • $55,000 over list price!

4671 Glacier Ln, Sedro Woolley

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By the Numbers

  • 2336 sq ft / 3 bed / 3 bath
  • 8 days on market
  • 28 days from list to close
  • 9500+ people reached through targeted digital marketing above and beyond traditional MLS methods
  • 1 custom website with video, large-scale photos, a floor plan and features list, and info about living in Skagit Valley.
  • Sold for $620,00063 percent higher than the median sales price in the last year for similar sized homes in the same area.
  • 1 cash buyer—very happy in their new dream home!

I truly believe that strategic, aggressive marketing will help sellers net more for their homes. I have 15 years of experience in this type of marketing for national brands in the industries of architecture, design, and fashion. 

If you want your own success list, please give me a call.