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 solar 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. 



  • 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 

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.


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). 


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


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. 


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 


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. 


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


-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.


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).


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


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.

Just listed: contemporary view home on South Hill

Get ready, Bellingham. This might just be the coolest house to hit the South Hill market in awhile... 

Nestled in the trees, this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home emanates effortless, natural style.


The owners of this gem took its intrinsically cool vibe to the next level by upgrading the floors on both levels to bamboo hardwoods, replacing appliances with stainless steel, installing new honed black quartz waterfall countertops in kitchen, and getting some major land/hardscaping projects out of the way including the installation of a covered fenced dog area under the deck.

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Everything you need is on the need on main level here, and the lower level has a convenient separate entrance. And, low-maintenance landscaping! Move in, watch the sunsets, and enjoy your life. It doesn't get much better than this on South Hill.

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To get a better feel for this undeniably stylish space, check out the video that we created below.

Just listed: One-level modern farmhouse on acreage

I am so excited about this new listing, an impeccably designed high-quality modern farmhouse-style rambler on 9.5 acres just east of Bow-Edison, in Skagit County. 

At just over 2300 sq ft, this home offers open concept living and so many stylish details: wide plank hardwoods, sliding barn door, stainless steel farmhouse sink, shiplap, quartz countertops and oil rubbed bronze finishes. It features 3 bedrooms (plus a flex room and office) and 3 full baths. It's just simply, gorgeous.

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This is a new construction but it's not a typical spec home. Built by Balas Homes, a family-owned 4th generation builder offering superior quality and style, this home has every thoughtful detail you'd want: great lighting options (with dimmer switches!), tongue and groove cedar covered patio, plush carpets in the bedrooms, undermount sinks, tile bathroom floors, seamless glass shower doors in the master bath.  No expense was spared. 

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And the setting is so tranquil. It's situated on a cul-de-sa in a new acreage development. It's a flat and lightly treed property, absent of water or wetland concerns, offering a ton of possibility and room to customize for one's specific needs. 


Check out the video that we created below. To learn more, please visit the custom website that we launched at




Homes make us feel...

I guarantee you that this is the most emotional post you’ll ever see a realtor write. But it’s Valentine's Day so I feel a little entitled to emote. 

Can we not talk about for just a second about the FEELING that you can experience when you’re in the right home?

 Diligently house hunting in 2007, as a brunette. Oh, how I immediately fell in love with this home. 

Diligently house hunting in 2007, as a brunette. Oh, how I immediately fell in love with this home. 

Our first home in Ballard had that feeling. The energy when I walked in that door, it was palpable. It emanated goodness with those big windows letting in the perfect light. It had a wholesome yet elegant cheeriness about it. It’s been over four years since I lived in that special home but I almost get chills when I think about it today. I miss it dearly. 

 My first love. 

My first love. 

Or, the time capsule mid-century home that you all fell in love with last summer. The feelings were real, they swept me up right away. And I wasn't the only one. Those feminine details. The way the light just sparkled in that living room.


The way people connected to it, and then shared it on social media.

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And then to find out that it was special to many children and grandchildren, now grown and living in other cities, who sought me out to view the home again when it listed. After I met and grew to love the many people that spent time there, it was even easier to understand why it carried that energy. 


Can we talk about the feeling when you are in a house like the 1930’s bungalow listed last fall, that a large Bellingham family owned and raised 15 children in? 


My heart sung when I looked through the original windows in that humble kitchen. And just beyond those glass panes encased between actual wood was a colorful garden that the matriarch of the family lovingly planted—and happily passed time admiring— from her breakfast table. With the lush grass and hummingbirds... it just gave you all the maternal nesting feels. That feeling was real. 

Yes, this is the most woo woo post you’ll ever read on a real estate blog but I’m here to remind you on this love day that homes are more than investments.

Yes, I’ll help you look at the comps before we offer and work to help you make the smartest decision. Yes, we can look at the neighborhood appreciation rates, and school ratings. Of course we’ll run the numbers. But please don’t ignore the feelings in the process. We are rational AND emotional creatures. We bond with our spaces. We raise our families under these roofs, we spend time with friends, we find peace and rest and solace there. It's an emotional process to find, and let go of, our homes. Let's honor these feelings. 


Bellingham's own architecture legend, George Bartholick

You may have heard me say that my work in real estate has been peppered with rather coincidental, if not inspired, experiences. (If not, I’d be happy to talk your ear off about all the strange and incredible situations that I’ve had in the last year.) So, here’s another one.

While antique shopping at one of my favorite PNW stores, Urban Marketplace, in the Manette neighborhood of Bremerton, I started chatting with one of the sales associates. I mentioned that I lived in Bellingham, and she said that she went to college there. She happened to mention the name of her college roommate…because, that’s normally what you bring up in a 30-second conversation with a stranger, right?

“I still keep in touch with my college roommate, Andrea Bartholick Pace, who’s now interior designer in the Bay area,” she said.

Bartholick. The name stuck. I said, “This is a long shot but…did her dad happen to be an architect?”

“Yes, he was!” she replied.

My eyes widened. I just put one of the late George Bartholick’s homes under contract: a beautiful 1960s home in the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bellingham. My clients and I had been researching him and his work. What are the odds?

Days later I had the opportunity to speak with his daughter Andrea about his life and his work, and I’m excited to be able to share a bit about it here.

A true creative

Born in 1921, George Bartholick grew up in Bellingham, where his family owned a shoe repair shop. He came from a creative family, as evidenced by this custom car his father had created by Ford for his personal use. 

 George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

He was an adventurous spirit and he lived all over the world.

He was best friends with prominent PNW architects Fred Bassetti and Ibsen Nelson. "They ruled the Seattle art scene in the 70s and 80s," Andrea said. "They were all tall, dressed beautifully, and supported the arts and changes in Seattle's development."

He was crazy, wild and mischievous. She told me a hilarious story about how he designed a contemporary house called the “House of the Future” for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and then got arrested for sleeping in it before opening day.

After traveling Europe, and living in Finland and France, Bartholick came home in 1956 to Bellingham.

“He loved Bellingham, especially Lake Whatcom."

Andrea grew up with her two siblings in a one-bedroom log cabin with an outhouse at the end of Northshore Dr, until she was 11 years old when the family moved into the home that he was slowly building on the property.

"The lake reminded him of the fiords of Norway,” she said.

Bartholick designed much of Western Washington University’s campus. He also restored the old city hall (for the former town, New Whatcom) after a fire, which today houses the Whatcom Museum. His work laid the groundwork for what is now the Woodland Park Zoo. But he was most known for his work restoring Pike Place Market, which earned him an American Institute of Architects award in 1985.

Bartholick only designed a handful of residential projects in his lifetime, but the homes that he did design were special for all of those who got to live in them.

“He was always very close with his clients, and they typically kept the homes for the rest of their lives.”

 A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

615 Bayside, Edgemoor

My lucky clients are design enthusiasts, and they immediately fell in love with this home, which features floor to ceiling windows and the unique floor plan that playfully winds around a courtyard and pool, with walls of sliding doors creating natural indoor-outdoor living spaces.

“He hated cutting down trees to make room for a home, so would design around them," Andrea noted.

Bartholick’s influences were Japanese architecture, nature, and natural light.

When we walked into this home, it immediately felt cultured and inspired, much like its creator.


Bartholick died in 1998 at the age of 77.

In his Seattle Times obituary, a fellow architect Jim Leong, said "He was one of the characters of Seattle, a living legend. He could be a cantankerous reprobate on one hand, and a gentle, guiding soul on the other. He definitely designed some marvelous buildings."

And we are fortunate to have a bit of his legacy here in Bellingham.


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