How storytelling can help sell homes

When selling a home, you're often instructed to neutralize and depersonalize everything about the home. Take down family photos to create a space that people can envision themselves living in. Don't share too many personal reasons about why you're selling or where you're going. Stay at an arm's length during the process, and let the agents talk to each other. There are many reasons why this advice is sound, but what I feel is often lost in the real estate process is the stories behind the homes. Especially when representing an older home, I love to draw out the history and make it work for you

In my recent Whatcom Falls listing, for example, I knew that we weren't going to capture inspiring photos of the inside of the home. I'm a big believer in staging but this home just needed too much updating, and putting new furniture in it would have just highlighted its shortcomings. Over 90 percent of buyers start their home search online though, and I have a digital marketing focused approach. I knew the photos weren't going to sell this place. So I asked myself, how could we get traction?

During initial meetings with the siblings who were selling the home for their (very large!) family, the stories of their childhood kept flowing. With 15 kids growing up a 1500 sq foot home, how could they not? Lynn and Bill had me enthralled...I wanted to know more. So, I decided to "break the rules" and share heartwarming stories of the family who have owned it for over 70 years. I knew that telling this home's history would make people fall in love with it—and share it online.

Interviewing Lynn and Bill was fun. They had so many hilarious memories about growing up! The hardest part was pairing their stories down into a piece that was easily consumable, as people have increasingly short attention spans when it comes to digital media.  

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I managed to get my hands on some old photos of the kids growing up, which made it so much more real. We paired the stories with gorgeous drone video of the almost 1-acre property. At the end of the video, I was able to sneak in some information about the development opportunities—knowing that leading with that info wouldn't be something that would catch most people's attention.

Once finished, we distributed the video via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. And I'm quite delighted with the results. The video received over 5,700 views on Facebook! The property ended up selling for $70,000 over asking price. 

Sold in Whatcom Falls

One of the things you'll get with me as your listing agent is a fresh approach to marketing the property. With a 15-year background in marketing, communications and social media, I can't help but take real estate a step or two beyond what's typical. And, I love storytelling. Take a peek for yourself and let me know what you think!

Just listed: Adorable bungalow on huge, dividable Bellingham lot

I'm excited to share my newest listing, a super rare find in Bellingham.

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1208 Xenia St. is a charming 1930’s bungalow situated on almost an acre on a dead-end street in the Whatcom Falls neighborhood! This home features a large living room with tons of original character including solid plank pine walls, built-ins, coved ceilings. Plus, a gorgeous gas fireplace.

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In the mid-90's an additional living room was added to the home in back—also featuring a fireplace. 

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The property boasts lush gardens and a variety of fruit trees. The home has been well-maintained with new exterior paint, and a brand new high efficiency water heater.

Opportunity exists to divide into 3-4 separate lots (buyer to verify) all with street frontage and utilities in street.

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Offered at $550,000, this one will go fast. Large, flat, serviced and buildable lots are virtually non-existent in Bellingham, so this is a great opportunity.  I've shared some of the heartwarming history of this home, as well as outlined some of the development options, in the video below. 

For more info, please contact me at 206-619-2286 or kristakenner@cbbain.com. 

 

Best neighborhoods for kids and families in Bellingham

If you’re moving to Bellingham, you are likely wondering where you might want to live. Other questions include:

  • Where can I get an affordable home in Bellingham?
  • Should I rent or buy when I move?
  • Is there crime in Bellingham?
  • What are the best schools in Bellingham?

Trust me, I’ve been there! The questions are heavy. Moving is hard! Four years ago we packed up and moved our young family to Bellingham from Seattle. It tends to be a bit overwhelming to move to a new community, especially with children, so I’ve compiled some advice – largely informed by my own move.

MovingtoBellinghamwithKids

When we moved to Bellingham, we decided to rent first. Buying and selling homes is a big commitment, so we wanted to “test the waters” with our move first. We wanted to make sure we liked our jobs, and that the move overall seemed right for our family. So we rented our Seattle home for six months and signed a lease for a cute home in the Silver Beach neighborhood, near Lake Whatcom.

The Silver Beach neighborhood was great. Pros: it’s gorgeous and has easy access to Lake Whatcom. (We had a little community beach a walkable distance away that we could go to, but Bloedel Donavan Park was also convenient.) There’s a great, flat trail nearby that’s wonderful for an easy hike or a jog. It only takes 12-15 minutes to get to downtown Bellingham. One of Bellingham’s best restaurants, The Fork at Agate Bay, is nearby. The Silver Beach area is quiet, peaceful, and the community was welcoming and sweet. We could walk to see cows! (No, it's not rural, but we lived near a rare couple-acre parcel where the landowners kept a couple grazing cows.) 

Our oldest daughter on a walk to see the cows in the Silver Beach neighborhood near Lake Whatcom.

Our oldest daughter on a walk to see the cows in the Silver Beach neighborhood near Lake Whatcom.

Silver Beach cons: not many. For us, we missed being super close to a variety of grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops. We realized through living out near Lake Whatcom that we really are city people, and we could get a little bit more of an urban vibe by being closer to downtown.

A little less than a year later, we moved to the South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham. We were lucky to be able to buy a fixer upper with a fantastic view of Bellingham Bay. The view alone was probably enough to woo us, but we were excited about other perks. My husband could get to his work downtown in just a few minutes. There were many great parks for kids nearby (Bellingham’s park game is strong!). The south end schools were known to be fantastic from elementary school all the way up to high school.

Our youngest daughter at Squalicum Park in Bellingham.

Our youngest daughter at Squalicum Park in Bellingham.

I wasn’t sure how many families my age would be nearby in South Hill. Many of the homes are sizeable, and have views. It's desirable, and the prices in the neighborhood reflect that. In the last 12 months, the average annual median sold price in South Hill is over $575,000—not exactly entry level for most young families. 

The Columbia neighborhood tempted us because it’s known to be magical for children. Halloween is an epic event in Columbia. The elementary school has a great reputation, and we had good friends that lived there. At times, I second guessed our decision to go south during this super kid-centric phase of our lives, but now I’ve realized that it’s so easy to join the fun family-friendly events in any neighborhood in Bellingham. And once our oldest went to kindergarten, we met a whole bunch of families with young children that reside in the south end.

In fact, there are many great schools and many idyllic places to live with children in Bellingham. Since settling in here, we’ve had our kids enrolled in a few different preschools in a few different areas, so we’ve managed to meet families that live all over town in a variety of neighborhoods.

Like any community, there are pros and cons to each neighborhood and you have to figure out what’s most important to you.

If you can sacrifice on size, and love the charm of older homes, York or Sunnyland neighborhood might be a nice fit for you.

If having a large, flat chunk of land for a garden or swing set is important, the Birchwood neighborhood, known for its large lot sizes, might be a good place to start your search.

Love the lake? Try Geneva, or aforementioned Silver Beach, or head south to the Lake Samish area.

Want an International Baccalaureate program that offers instruction in a second language during your children's primary years? Wade King Elementary has it, so you'll want to focus on sections of Whatcom Falls neighborhood, and/or the Urban Growth Area near Yew Street and Lake Padden.

Want to run out your door to tons of trails? Whatcom Falls and Samish/Lake Padden areas also offer that.

I know—there are a ton of considerations. But I can tell you that you can’t really go wrong here. And that's not just realtor-speak, I promise. Bellingham is an awesome place to raise kids.

Finding a good real estate agent—someone in the same stage of life—is a good first step. Since moving to Bellingham, it has become my passion to help other people—families especially—integrate into this remarkable community that I now call home. Give me a call or send me an email so we can chat more!

Follow me on Instagram @hearthomesbellingham

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Working for the sale: behind the scenes of 400 17th St.

It was such an honor to be a part of the sale of 400 17th St., a gorgeous 60's home filled to the brim with love, fabulous things, and good times.

When I started working with the Fishers, who were selling their mother's home, we had our work cut out for us. This quality-built home was innately beautiful, and very well maintained—with classic lines that make any mid-century lover swoon—but, it had just undergone a highly trafficked estate sale, and it needed a vision, and what I like to call a good "spit shine."

When I took this project on, I knew we had an opportunity—to maximize a sale for a family.

Goal: to create a vision—to help people see how this vintage time capsule home is insanely cool, near move-in-ready, just waiting for modern day entertaining and general lifestyle amazingness. 

I was on-scene almost every day for over a month, helping this busy family manage the preparation. Here's a behind the scenes look at what we did.

First off, the pool needed some help, as it hadn't had a cover on it for about a year. And the fence was looking tired. Since the pool area was visible from nearly every room in the house, this was an immediate focus of our efforts. 

Pool cleaners arrived on-scene multiple times. The fence and pool area were pressure washed. We repaired a few areas of the fence, and replaced top caps. Then, I had a crew of college kids come and give it a fresh, clean coat of paint. 

Meanwhile, inside the home, we focused on repainting a few key rooms that looked dingy: the master bedroom, a main floor bath, and the kitchen ceiling. 

I also had an electrician replace a light fixture/fan combo that didn't honor the era of the home as well as some of the iconic globe fixtures, of which we had extra in the basement. As someone who has produced and managed photoshoots for national brands, I'm trained to always ask myself, "What will photograph the best?"

Landscaping was also key. We did some trimming and pruning, but the area that I knew would make the most visual impact was the front of the home, where these huge and amazing built-in stone beds sat empty. We needed to get this area to "pop," as it's right by the front door. First impressions are everything.

Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

On the landscaping front, the look I was going for was very Southern California. This gorgeous mid-century had a very Joseph Eichler vibe, so we needed to honor that. Palm Springs was on my mind.

Another big first impression opportunity was the front entry light fixture, which was pure Hollywood Regency goodness, but very rusted. Nothing that little paint can't fix, so I spruced it up.

The interior was where my heart sung. This original Nutone pull out record player was in the basement, so we reinstalled it. An old acquaintance of mine—with the patience of a saint—spent over a full day, delicately cleaning and checking every wire and connection to get the intercomm and speaker system singing throughout the entire 4400+ square foot home. Why would we do this? This place was frozen in time, therefore, we were selling more than a house—we were selling a lifestyle.

Then we were about ready to clean and stage. Luckily, my client had a cleaning company in her past. She very successfully took over this area. I've never seen someone clean this well in my entire life. I think she spent over 3 hours on the 1960's stove. By the end, it looked like it had never even baked a bundt cake before, which we all know isn't the case.

I decided to stage this home myself. I'm a huge believer in staging—the photos are much more captivating than a vacant home. It also helps shoppers visualize the space and how they might use it.

I selectively kept a few items that didn't sell at the estate sale, like this AMAZING art deco mirror above. It just needed a new base, as it was sitting on top of a rather silly computer desk. I paired it with a super chic Nate Berkus for Target chair. I love this chair. (When you can get a chair this perfect for this scene, at a Target price, you know you're winning.)

Most of the furniture that we used came from my own arsenal of vintage and mid-century pieces. I painted some pieces from Goodwill to fill in a few holes. It was important that we had a fresh, modern look that still honored the era.

To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

After cleaning and staging, it was show-time. I spent nine hours with an architectural photographer. Nine hours, you ask? Well, I stood behind every frame, moving pillows and plants around to capture just the right composition. We did drone video, interior video, and multiple rooms with different lighting options. And in the end, I really feel like we captured the essence of this home. 

It was a ton of work but definitely worth it. When she sold for $1,000,000, I knew we represented her well. 

I will always have a special place in my heart for this remarkable home.

 

Sold in Sudden Valley!

Congratulations to Kara and Jonny who landed a great home in Sudden Valley in late May! Kara and Jonny moved from Portland to Bellingham, and found that they loved Sudden Valley. I was so happy to represent them on their first purchase in the Bellingham area! 

This sunny property had a great feel immediately when we walked in the door. The master bathroom was pretty epic. And it had enough space for them to both have separate offices—a must have when you both work from home. 

Congrats guys!

Now offering: professional organizing, paid by yours truly

I find that one of the most stressful aspects of a busy life is the lack of time, energy and mental headspace to organize. It's something that I've written about before. And I'm sure you'll hear from me again on the subject.

Earlier this spring, I had a professional organizer and friend, Rachel from Spruce with Rachel, help me with our giant closet in the middle of our home.

I love this closet. It's huge. It has many shelves. And over the three and a half years since we've lived in our home, it has become the catch-all for everything that I don't know what to do with. Before Rachel came to help me, it was a war zone of stuff—everything from kids' games to large cooking equipment to gift wrap to extra home supplies. It was stuffed to the brim. If you opened this closet, you never know what might fall out. 

Rachel began her process by taking every single thing out of the closet and letting it sprawl across our floor and kitchen table. Seeing it all out in front of me was amazing. I really had all this stuff?

I went through each and every item and decided whether or not I needed it. (In case you're wondering, I did keep the hand mixer below. It was a gift from my husband's grandmother. And it's actually kind of useful. So it went to live in our kitchen.)

Going through each item one by one with Rachel's presence by my side, I was able to get rid of a lot. (Favorite part: she takes it away for you! And sends you a tax donation receipt in the mail!) 

Our refreshed closet is so much more functional. I know where everything is, and it's easily accessible. My gift wrap is all in a nice little gift wrap storage box! I realized I need to do this with every room in my house. 

now offering: professional organization services for clients

One of the more stressful parts about moving, whether you're buying or selling, is getting your home organized and in shape. If you're a buyer, you are typically moving from somewhere with different spaces and organizational features. Hopefully your new home has bigger and better closets—but maybe you traded those features for something else. The point is, you need to think through your new space and how you want to live in it. If you buy your new home with me at your agent, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00, after you move some boxes in. Give her a room or a closet and it will look like a Storables ad in no time!

If you're looking to sell your home soon, oh boy—you're likely in the thick of it. The idea of getting your house ready to list might be so overwhelming that you don't even know where to start. (And yes, potential buyers do look through your closets.) If you list your home with me, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00. And don't get me wrong— a Rachel "consult" is very hands-on. She'll get down-to-business, help you sort and purge. She'll get right to it and you'll be on your way in no time.

I found that a half-day with Rachel gave me the energy, confidence and skills to tackle other areas of my home with much more ease. Hopefully it will do the same for you. 

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Just listed: mid-century marvel on South Hill

I've recently listed a mid-century dream home, loaded with original charm and style. Please join me on a tour of 400 17th St.—starting with this awesome video that we created to showcase the home in its best light.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

This home features large windows in every room. There's a wading pool with a spraying fountain in the back, plus a swimming pool deep enough for diving! 

Mid century home with pool in Bellingham

The large, light and bright living room features beamed ceilings and a wall of windows. The sliding doors lead to a large covered patio.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

A gorgeous stone entry way leads to large living area with parquet flooring. Original light fixtures and decorative iron paneling give a Hollywood Regency vibe.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

The dining room boasts a view of Bellingham Bay, and opens to a covered patio with recently updated slate floor and aluminum/glass panels.

Mid-century homes in Bellingham

The eat-in kitchen has charming original fixtures including globe light fixtures and Heywood-Wakefield style cabinets.

Mid century kitchen in Bellingham

Original working sound and intercomm system with pull-out wall devices including a functional record player. Original scalloped pink anodized aluminum range hood. Immaculately maintained time capsule home...these are what mid-century dreams are made of!

Mid century homes in Bellingham

A spacious, light-filled main floor master bedroom with vaulted ceilings. Door leads to a room with dual cedar-lined closets and a built-in marble topped vanity, and then to the master bathroom.

Mid century home in Bellingham

The blush pink drapes are so epic!

Hollywood Regency in Bellingham

Gorgeous views from the master bedroom.

Bellingham Bay views

Master suite perks include a marble-topped vanity and built-in armoires!

Mid century vanity and armoires

Dual sinks, marble countertops, and crystal fixtures combine to make a luxuriously retro master bath.

Hollywood Regency bathroom

Lower level bedroom. Wake up to an everyday vacation!

South Hill Bellingham Home for Sale

Lower level bathroom. Light, neutral colors. Once again, just immaculately maintained.

Mid-century home for sale in Bellingham

The lower level has a three bedrooms -- and this one below was used as a craft room. I just love the original globe fixtures.

Home for sale in South Hill, Bellingham

Pink bathroom on the lower level.  #millenialpink! It's back in style, you guys!

Mid-century bathroom in Bellingham

Lower level bedroom or office which opens up to the pool area.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

Covered outdoor grilling area. The original speakers and sound system are functional.

Covered outdoor area in Bellingham mid-century home

Imagine the pool parties, everybody! (And please invite me!)

South Hill Bellingham pool

One of the biggest perks of this property is its sheer size -- rare on South Hill! The sprawling home sits on two parcels, and there's an additional parcel the right that's full of mature, flowering trees. 

South Hill Bellingham home for sale.

The additional lot offers beauty and privacy, and the opportunity for cozy outdoor fires!

Lot on South Hill for sale with home

All in all, this home is a total dream. Offered at $1,100,000. I created a property website which gives more details. 

See Instagram for more #40017thSt

Making it Work in Bellingham: Lisa Staton, interior designer

I grew up in Whatcom County but have lived the majority of my adult life in Seattle. Three years ago, we moved to Bellingham for a better pace of life. My husband is a creative director and product designer in the tech industry, so as you can imagine, more job opportunities for him exist in Seattle. However, Seattle developed just a bit of a frenzy that just didn't jive with our lifestyle after having kids. I know a lot of people must feel this way because lately when I do open houses, the majority of people are people trying to leave Seattle. 

What do people do for work in Bellingham?

That's the big question, am I right? Since moving to Bellingham, I've met so many interesting professionals who have built amazing careers for themselves in Bellingham. A lot of people have finagled remote work opportunities, and many also work for themselves. I love learning about creative and entrepreneurial people in this small town, so I'm starting a blog series called Making it Work in Bellingham. I'll be interviewing inspiring people who love Bellingham and have made beautiful lives and homes here in our community. I hope these stories inspire people that you can work where you love to live!

My first interview is with Lisa Staton, who lives right down the street from me on South Hill. I first met Lisa through our kids who both go to the same elementary school. I was excited to learn that she also moved to Bellingham from Seattle in the last few years. I've since learned that Lisa is a sought after interior designer who has garnered quite a reputation in Seattle and beyond.

The first time I went to her home, I just about fainted from pure minimalist delight. She's completely reworked a gorgeous Tudor home that I remember touring and falling in love with for its potential – and to see it now after her refresh is quite inspiring. If I could describe her home's aesthetic, I would say modern meets comfortable, natural meets refined, traditional meets unexpected. Enjoy this first interview in an ongoing series!

South Hill homes Bellingham
South Hill Homes Bellingham

Coming from Seattle and other urban places, what do you love most about Bellingham?

I grew up on the East Coast and spent my summers in Maine.  The ocean, the islands, the rocky coast. It reminds me a lot of Maine.  The pace here is different. Bellingham slows me down, reminds me to take a deep breath, and get out and enjoy nature. But I am also very much a "city girl" at heart, and so the quick access to Seattle and Vancouver satisfies that "fix."  

We also loved the idea of the kids growing up in a "college town" with the cultural and educational influences that a school like Western brings to a community.  

Did anything surprise you about this town?

We had made a quick trip to Bellingham before moving here, and of course I knew it was on the water, but the days we visited before moving happened to be especially rainy and foggy (even by Northwest standards).  So I did not fully grasp just how amazing the natural surroundings are.  This sounds dorky, but I literally feel taken by surprise often by the scenic views...and those sunsets! 

Bellingham historic homes
South Hill homes Bellingham

What do you love about the South Hill neighborhood? Did you consider any other neighborhoods when you moved here?

My husband is a professor at WWU, and so we really wanted to live on South Hill so he could walk to campus. We also loved that the neighborhood  elementary school is tucked in amongst the houses, and that our children could walk to school through high school.  (That is one of the things I really love about Bellingham, there is not a big private school culture here. And I feel that means families of all backgrounds and interests stay involved and engaged in the public school system which keeps it strong and well supported both fiscally and at the grass roots level with the PTA and lots of parental involvement and volunteering.) 

Classic homes in South Hill Bellingham

I often tell my clients that there's a certain feeling when you're in the right home. Did you immediately see the vision with your home?

I agree. We all start with a list of number of bedrooms, size of yard, garage, etc. But there is a certain emotion that can't be quantified when house shopping. That said, for myself, I am actually pretty pragmatic when buying a house. It's my job to solve the "puzzle" of making a home live well and be beautiful on a daily basis. I work in a range of styles (both modern and traditional). But the bones must be good. I would much rather take on a house that has not yet been renovated but has good bones than one that has had a poorly planned renovation or cheaply added on layers.  

We have moved many times and renovated many old houses. When this house came on the market we were in the planning stages of adding on to an old Victorian home two blocks down the street. My husband gets full credit for our buying this house. He loved it the day it went on the market, but I knew the amount of work that had to be done and was hesitant to take it on until the price dropped to a point where it made sense. It's good to remember that sometimes it's time to buy another house then try to make a current house more than it can easily (or fiscally) be. 

South Hill Bellingham real estate
South Hill Bellingham real estate

As an interior designer (and someone with an obvious touch for making a home what I like to call a "heart home") what would you advise a home shopper to focus on when looking? 

Location, location location first!  And then be really clear on the parts of the home where you spend most of your time and shop for a house that meets those needs. Many clients think they need big huge houses, when the majority of families only really actively live in smaller percentage of their house, even if the house is much bigger. Also, don't be afraid of renovating, and also doing it in stages. As long as you have a "plan," it can be done over time. If the basics are in good shape (foundation, roof, electrical and plumbing), all the rest can happen over time. 

Thank you to Lisa Staton for the fun interview, and to the Seattle-duo Belathée Photography for the beautiful photography.

If you need help finding your perfect home in Bellingham, please reach out!

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Fed rate increase and the Bellingham housing market

For nearly a decade, we've had extremely low interest rates, but the tides may be changing.

The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point at its March 15 meeting. If the economy keeps growing as expected, then we should expect additional increases over the next two years.

The Federal Reserve rate impacts other loan rates including mortgages. So what will the impact be on mortgage rates? And what about the housing market?

We've been anticipating these rate hikes so this increase has already been built in to current mortgage rates. That said, we do anticipate a slow rise in mortgage rates this year, somewhere between 4.5 and 5 percent by the end of 2017.

What does that mean for an average buyer/home purchase? If you are buying a house with a $300,000 mortgage, a 1 percent difference from 4 percent to 5 percent means your monthly mortgage payments will go up from $1,432 to $1,610, which means you will be paying $178 more a month on a 30-year mortgage. 

Fed Funds Rate vs 30 Year Mortgage Rate since 1971

Locally, because of the high demand for housing, I don't expect any huge changes to home prices in Bellingham or Whatcom County. Higher mortgage rates may have some downward impact on that demand, but the population growth here is another driving force – and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Plus, housing remains very affordable by historic standards. No one has a crystal ball, but if I had to make an educated guess, I would anticipate another healthy real estate year despite an environment of increasing mortgage rates.

Worth noting, this week I learned about some interesting temporary buydown programs offered locally. This type of program allows people get into the market a little easier with a lower initial monthly mortgage payment in exchange for an upfront fee. Some of the fees are even paid by the lender, or can be negotiated to be paid by the seller. Just another reminder that if you're house shopping, it's important to also mortgage shop (less fun, I know!) and check out what products are available at any given time.

Future waterfront development in Bellingham

One of the things that really excites me about Bellingham is the downtown waterfront transformation that's underway.

Bellingham's roots are in the timber/logging industry, as well as fisheries and coal. The massive impact of the Georgia-Pacific pulp and tissue mill on our city's waterfront is undeniable. Records from the Georgia-Pacific Corporation (formerly the Puget Sound Pulp and Timber company) date back to 1892. It was here in the very beginning.

(Photo credit: Galen Biery Photographs, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, WWU)

(Photo credit: Galen Biery Photographs, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, WWU)

G-P has since left, but the mill's legacy impacts our waterfront even today. A massive effort to clean up environmental contamination has been underway since the late 90's. Development has, for all intents and purposes, been on hold until the state deems each area safe for human health. We're getting closer to tangible progress, evidenced by the capping and flattening of the west part of the G-P cleanup site last summer, and the historic Granary building renovation that's currently underway.

In 2015, I helped plan an event to celebrate progress on the waterfront.

In 2015, I helped plan an event to celebrate progress on the waterfront.

The city of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham have been busy conspiring with architects, developers and even artists to reenvision this entire waterfront area. Efforts to incorporate some of the industrial history led to a recent solicitation of bids to transform the "Acid Ball," a spherical structure that used acid to break wood down into pulp, into an artistic relic for the downtown waterfront. A proposal out of Seattle's Mutuus Studio won. Their renderings of the artifact installation in the new Whatcom Waterway park, scheduled to open in 2017, make me excited.

Rendering of the "Acid Ball" and the soon-to-open Whatcom Waterway park on the Bellingham waterfront. (Photo credit: Mutuus Studios)

Rendering of the "Acid Ball" and the soon-to-open Whatcom Waterway park on the Bellingham waterfront. (Photo credit: Mutuus Studios)

Why am I excited? For starters, the city's vision for more public access on the waterfront, and a better connection between the waterfront and the downtown core, will likely bring vibrancy to downtown Bellingham. Second, a focused effort around economic development and a seemingly clear strategy to attract solid industries is promising. Over the years, the energy in Bellingham's downtown core has ebbed and flowed — but the future looks bright.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR REAL ESTATE?

My opinion that Bellingham is just being discovered — and that population growth and therefore rising home prices will only continue. We live in a beautiful town with access to the San Juan Islands, Mt. Baker, Vancouver B.C., and countless parks and trail systems. With a strengthened economy and downtown core, we are perfectly poised for more growth. So brace yourselves Bellinghamsters, we might not be the "city of subdued excitement" for much longer.