Living in Bellingham, Washington

If you are looking for information on Bellingham Washington, you've come to the right place. Our Bellingham Blog features information on events and activities taking place in the area as well as information on neighborhoods, parks, schools, recreation and more.

We invite you to request a Bellingham Relocation Package including information from the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, the Bellingham Visitors Center as well as current magazines of properties for sale.

Bellingham is located about an hour and a half south of Vancouver British Columbia and approximately an hour and fifteen minutes north of Seattle.

April 22, 2012

The Tulips are in Bloom in Mt Vernon

The Skagit Valley Tulip Fields are in bloom. It's a great time to get out and  see the tulips feilds in Mt Vernon. The tulips are up and the colorful fields are an incredible sight. There are loads of pictures at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival fanpage. The flowers will probably be around for another maybe two weeks. Just head down to west of Mt Vernon and you’ll see signs all around showing the Tulip Route. Try and make it during the week as it is really busy there on the weekends. The display gardens at RoozenGaarde are outstanding and Tulip Town has beautiful displays and fields for you to enjoy as well. You can even find a field map at The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website and a bloom map at the Roozengarde website.  The Tulip Festival actually starts today and runs through the end of the month. Lots of related events going on in and around Mt Vernon and the area around the fields.

Posted in Activities
Share This Post
April 20, 2012

Bellingham's Recycled Art & Resource Expo

RARE  - Recycled Art & Resource Expo is Bellingham's celebration of recycled art and innovation. It is a 3 day event from April 20th-22nd that will be held in several venues around town. There will be exhibits, workshops, speakers, entertainment and vendors. Take home some ideas, get creative and make some of your own recycle art.

Partnering Organizations & Individuals include:
Allied Arts of Whatcom County - Allied Arts Education Project - The SPARK Museum - Appliance Depot -Bellingham/ Whatcom County Tourism Bureau - Everybody Bike - FIG Family Interactive Gallery - Graham Schodda Sculpture + Design - Mindport - Procession of the Species Parade - The Lakeway Inn and Conference Center - The RE Store / RE Sources - Thor Myhre, Artist and RARE Founder - Whatcom Museum

 

Check out the event map here.

Share This Post
April 18, 2012

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Now Required When Selling Your Home

Beginning this month, sellers of residential property must have carbon monoxide detectors installed in their home before closing.   This requirement is for all homes regardless of the type of appliances and heating system in the residence, yes that's right, even if your home is all electric. 

 

You are required to have a carbon monoxide detector outside each sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
You are required to have at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, even if there are no sleeping areas on that floor.

Battery operated carbon monoxide detector are an inexpensive item you can find at any home improvement or hardware store.. 

It's a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home even if your not selling it. These detectors are similar to smoke alarms and can warn you when carbon monoxide levels become unsafe. If the alarm goes off, evacuate the building and call 911.

If you'd like any more information just give me call.

Share This Post
April 16, 2012

Is there is a Recovery in the Housing Market?

 

houseup Is there is a Recovery in the Housing Market?It has been five years since the U.S. housing bust sent sales and prices declining. Is this the year things will turn around and look like a recovery.

Lower prices, record low mortgage rates, rising rents and an improving job market appear to be bringing out potential buyers. Foreclosures are leading home buyers and  investors to grab bargain-priced homes.

Some people seem to think that prices won’t drop much further. In some cities, prices have begun to tick up, as they have here in Bellingham the past few months. Price increases have occurred both in some hard-hit areas, such as Phoenix, and some still-thriving areas like New York and Washington.

Nationally permits to build houses and apartments rose in February to their highest level since 2008.

According to earnings reports from two big banks showed more people are taking out mortgages. JPMorgan Chase gave out 6 percent more mortgages from January through March than it did a year ago and had 33 percent more applications. Wells Fargo gave 54 percent more mortgages and had 84 percent more applications.

Like many people I believe a full recovery will depend on continued job growth and that is still tenuous.

I had a client put offers on 3 homes last week, one had 10 offers, another 9 offers and another 6 offers.

What do you think is there a recovery happening?

Share This Post
April 13, 2012

Bank of America to Streamline the Short Sale Process

Bank of America is making changes to its short sale procedures with a goal of  reducing the time frame for a short sale decision to less than three weeks.

Beginning Saturday, April 14, real estate professionals working with B of A will be required to submit five documents for short sales with an offer

The bank’s new short sale process will enable real estate agents, brokers, attorneys, and other short sale specialists involved in pre-foreclosure transactions to complete necessary tasks involved in a short sale transaction simultaneously. This will reduce  the time frames for these usually lengthy transactions

Bank of America says it will be able to provide a decision on a short sale offer in 20 days.

In addition if  the buyer walks away from the sale, Bank of America is giving agents five days to submit a backup offer. Interested buyers will be limited to two counteroffers and will receive a response from the lender within three days.

Bank of America’s expects short sales to continue to increase and says they are taking steps to ensure it is providing decisions quickly and real estate agents are alerted of status as soon as possible.

Let's hope this works out well for all concerned and other banks will follow this novel approach to short sales, which will help not only the banks, but home buyer's and seller's as well.

If you or someone you know has a home underwater, give me a call and I would be glad to explain your options.

Share This Post
April 11, 2012

Home Maintenance tips: Fire in the laundry room - is your dryer venting system at risk?

Have you seen that Farmers Insurance commercial about laundry room dryer fires?  You know the one, where the professor shows the agents just how flammable dryer lint can be by torching a giant lint ball with a flame thrower.  The lint ball that was removed from the dryer venting system in my daughters rental was bigger then a basketball and just as dangerous as the giant one in the commercial.

My daughter moved to an upstairs duplex apartment in September of last year.  This spring one of her house mates clothes smelled like smoke after taking them out of the dryer.  They called the property management company right away.  The company's maintenance personnel checked it out, then a duct cleaning services was called to clean the 10 feet of dryer venting pipe.  As you can see from the photos it had been a long long time, if ever, since this venting system had been cleaned out.
I am amazed and so thankful that my daughters house didn’t burn down.  I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of inspecting and maintaining clothes dryer exhaust systems.

This is the second apartment in two years she has lived in to have issues with the dryer venting system.  Not a good record for rental owners and property management companies.  “Failure to maintain” is the leading cause of dryer fires.

Today laundry rooms are located almost anywhere in a home.  It’s common to find the dryer installed in a closet or hallway, with a long concealed run of venting pipe.   All too often dryer exhaust systems are installed and never thought of again.

I don’t think many people realize that homeowners failing to clean the dryer venting systems,  account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually, according to the US Fire Administration National Fire Data Center.

What can you do? Thoroughly read manufactures' instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers.  Check the outside vent to make sure air is coming out.  If your clothes are taking an extra long time to dry, check the venting system or have a professional check it.  Don't ever turn the dryer on and leave the house or go to bed while its still running.  Clean out the dryer venting system annually.  If you are buying a home make sure your home inspector checks the dryer venting system.  Google clothes dryer safety.  If you are a renter ask the property manager or owner when was the last time the dryer venting system was cleaned.

If you own rental property or are a property manager, please add to your check list: inspect and clean dryer venting systems annually.  Your renters will thank you.

If you would like to discuss home maintenance or Living in Bellingham, WA, Bellingham real estate or have questions about Bellingham real estate contact me, Stephane Twiford at 360-961-0720.

Share This Post
April 6, 2012

Farmer's Market Opening Day

Saturday April 7 is the opening day celebration of the 20th year of the Bellingham Farmer's Market.

The festivities begin on with a small antique tractor per session down Railroad Avenue at 10 o'clock our new mayor will toss a cabbage to begin the season. Looks like it's going to be beautiful day and I'm sure there'll be a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to come to the Farmer's market. I'm looking forward to seeing friends haven't seen in a while and seeing what's new at the market this year. There will be a few new food vendors this year, someone telling process sushi grade seafood and another vendor selling natural dog treats.

Farmers will be on hand with local seeds, plants starts, and you might even see some greenhouse grown produce.

See you there

 

Posted in Life in Bellingham
Share This Post
April 3, 2012

Bellingham Real Estate Market Report - March, 2012

Here's a quick analysis of the Bellingham Residential Real Estate Market for March 2012.

Wow sales have really picked up over last month in number and price and have picked up in price over last year.  The number of homes on the market is really low compared to years past at this time of year, and buyers are starting to come back to the market, that could lead to several people looking and even bidding on the same house. (I've had one client lose out to other offers on 4 houses now, and had a client put in offers one home that had 9 offers and one that had 10 offers)

 

If you have any questions or want to see any Bellingham Real Estate feel free to email me at or give me a call at 360-739-6981

Posted in Buying, Market Reports
Share This Post
March 9, 2012

Bellingham Real Estate Market Snapshot

Could it be? Has the market "bottomed out" as news articles are reporting?  It's hard to make this big of a projection or statement, but I will agree that inventory is shrinking.  I want to share what I am witnessing in our market as well as the data to substantiate this shift we're seeing.
Here are the statistics for both Residential and Condo properties in Whatcom County :
       
                                            February/2011                                  February/2012                                       
Active                                             1487                                                       1232
Pending                                            384                                                        428
Closed/Sold                                     219                                                         246
Avg. Sale Price:
Residential                                $265723                                                  $240930
Condo                                        $225225                                                  $189170
DOM ( time on market)                160                                                          124

 As you can see, our inventory is down for Whatcom Co. and with this reduction the amount of time houses are on the market is being reduced.  There just is not enough of a selection for buyers to choose from and therefore, properties are going under contract quickly. Reduced prices and low interest rates are also helping this situation.

A year ago buyer's could be more selective as the inventory was greater and a buyer had time to look around and wait, but now, that's not the case.  If a buyer waits,  the choices are gone.  Here are a few examples of what I experienced this past week:
 Bidding Wars -  I was just involved in one this past week on a Fantastic home in Edgemoor.  It was dated but had good bones.  Also, this was its first day out on the market.  My buyers threw their hat into the ring with a full price offer. After learning there was another offer on the table higher than full price,  my buyers upped their ante by $5000 dollars. By the next morning there were 3 other offers on the table and one substantially higher.  My buyers chose not to increase their offer and bowed out.
I had a similar situation happen last weekend, showed a new listing ( 5 DOM) to clients and it too had already had an offer on the table.  My clients did not want to " fight it out".  So we are still looking.
Another good example, is a property I listed in early February.  It is in a great price point( low 200's), is in very good condition and in a great location.  We  received a full price offer the first day on the market from a pre-approved, qualified buyer.  I chose to follow through with my scheduled Open House that weekend and met 3 other qualified buyers.
The bottom line is DO NOT HESITATE .  If you see something you like, grab it quickly because it will not last long.  This is a different mindset than the last couple of years.  It clearly is no longer a buyer's market.
For sellers, it couldn't be a better time to sell.  First, as the data shows, there is not enough inventory for buyers.  Second, low interest rates and there are qualified buyers.  Also, more good news,  according to USA TODAY, the US added 277,000 jobs in February.   If you have been waiting to put your home on the market, I suggest get it prepped and ready now as the "selling season" is quickly upon us.  You don't want to miss this opportunity.
Contact  or call Roberta direct at 360-303-3898 for more information about Bellingham, WA Homes for Sale or with any questions that you might have about the market, financing  or how to prepare your home to sell.
 I look forward to assisting you with your real estate goals whether you are a home buyer or home owner.
Share This Post
Feb. 15, 2012

Do you know your REAL Credit Score?

Do you know that banks use different credit scoring software than most free credit reporting websites. So if you go to the free credit reporting sites to find out what your credit score is you're not necessarily going to get the same score as the bank will when they pulled their credit. This is why people are often disappointed when they have a different score than the bank has for them.
freecredit report.com (which is owned by one of the big credit bureau's Experian), says right on their website ...."your Experian Credit Score indicates your relative credit risk level for educational purposes and is not the score used by lenders." But it's in the fine print and most people don't read it.

If you'd like the real deal credit report one of my lender partners has set up a website that will get you instant access to your real credit score, the same one that the banks will use to determine if and how much you could lend to buy your new home. It's not free, but it is only $19.25, it might be a good investment if you're looking to buy a home.

If you're interested Click here to visit this website,  and give me a call when you're ready to start looking for a home.

Share This Post