Amy Dohner

We welcome, Amy Dohner, to our real estate office!
Amy Dohner2

Cell: 360-961-6385
Give, Amy a call about her listing located at 1720 Village Drive, Lynden, MLS# 1220683 | New Price $425,000

Whatcom County Home & Garden Show

The Northwest Washington Fairgrounds, will be hosting the Whatcom County Home & Garden Show this weekend, March 2 – 4, 2018.
It’s the 39th show presented by the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County.
Five thousand dollars in prizes will be given away throughout the event. A variety of food vendors as well as beer & wine tasting will be at the show. Friday evening is date night, and on Saturday there will be live music in the indoor garden area.
More than 160 exhibitors will be present at the show. Experts on home repairs, building, gardening, landscaping, garage doors, painting, closet systems, handyman services, flooring cabinets, appliances & more will be present.
If you have any Spring projects you’ll want to visit the Home Show for a myriad of ideas, newest products and advice.
Hours are Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Selling Your Home? Don’t Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks

If you’re a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you’ve put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you’re thinking: Not my problem anymore.

Sorry, folks, we’ve got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that’s especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.

Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail that sale.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you’re still living at the home or not, you’ll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.

Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don’t let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one’s easy to forget about, even when you don’t plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.

And then there’s the roof. Of course, it’ll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.

First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won’t smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you’re at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.

Keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.
Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add “family of raccoons included” to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.

Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

If your house is on the market, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.

Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they’re especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details.

That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.

Put your summer lawn furniture away in the winter. It just looks like you don’t care for home if it’s still outside in the winter. Buyer’s may wonder if you haven’t maintained the house either if the outside looks sloppy.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it’ll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist and TV producer who covers real estate, architecture and design, DIY, gardening, and travel. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Metropolis, Costco Connection, Garden Collage, Parenting, Canadian Living, Canadian Gardening, and more. Follow @wendyhelfenbaum

Source: Wendy Helfenbaum, 2/1/18

Washington State – Water – Hirst Victory

The Washington State House and Senate reached a deal and passed SB 6091 on January 18, 2018, which fixes the 2016 Washington State Supreme Court ruling known as the Hirst decision. Governor Inslee signed the Hirst fix legislation at 12:25 p.m. on January 19, 2018.

Whatcom County will now be accepting permit applications for wells!

SB 6091 includes:
•Local governments can once again rely on Ecology as the state’s resource manager.
•3,000 gallons per day per connection for domestic wells in certain basins with existing watershed planning.
•In certain basins without watershed planning, household wells could withdraw 950 gallons per day per connection. This would change to 350 gallons per day for indoor use only in drought conditions. However, outdoor use would be permitted for fire buffers. Water enhancement and restoration committees will also be created for these local basins. These committees will invest $300 million dollars into improving the state’s water resource.

The Hirst fix signed into law provides a solid solution for families, businesses and rural communities in Washington.

The new law impacts only new domestic uses. Existing homeowners and water users are not affected by the new law, which went into effect on January 19, 2018.

Existing wells are exempt from the provisions of the new law. The Legislature wrote the new law so that wells constructed in the Hirst-affected basins before the effective date of the act would serve as proof of an adequate water supply for a building permit. Wells constructed in these basins in compliance with chapter 18.104 RCW are not subject to the new restrictions, limitations, and fees. This is regardless of whether the well was put to beneficial use prior to January 19, 2018.

Awards & Installations

WCAR brochure
The Whatcom County Assocation of Realtors®, held its 110th Awards and Installations on, January 12, 2018, and it was a sold out event! All proceeds from raffle ticket sales were donated to, Lydia Place in Bellingham. There are many outstanding individuals in the real estate industry and it was a night of special recognition and honorable mention. Our office was honored that our managing broker and owner, Jerry Blankers, was nominated for a community service award. Jerry, has given 40+ years of service to our wonderful community. Special congratulations to, Troy Muljat, managing broker and owner of the Bellingham office. Troy, was the recipient of the Realtor® Life-Time Achievement Award. Congratulations, Troy, what an honor! Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners! Here are some video excerpts from the evening:

Aid to Help End Homelessness for Bellingham Families

From left) Troy Muljat, Misha Collins, Emily O’Connor and Vicki Vantoch pose for a picture outside Lydia Place’s Bell Tower Community Center. (Courtesy of Sarah Deeder | Lydia Place)

by ehamann
Filed on 03. Jan, 2018 in Contents, Features, News

By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal

Local families experiencing homelessness are getting a roof over their heads this winter, with some help from a nonprofit, a property manager and one of Bellingham’s most famous residents.

In November, actor and Bellingham resident Misha Collins sent out a message over his social media channels, urging his almost 3 million followers to buy T-shirts and other items, with the proceeds going to Bellingham nonprofit Lydia Place.

His goal is to get a home for every homeless parent with children in Bellingham.

“I moved to Bellingham from Los Angeles, where the problem of homelessness and homeless kids and homeless families, it almost seems disheartening to think about,” Collins said. In Bellingham, however, the 2017 homelessness survey found that there’s fewer than a hundred families without homes.

“Finding housing for that group of people feels achievable,” Collins said. “It’s a stretch, but it feels really possible.”

Collins, who stars in the popular TV show “Supernatural,” has been working toward this goal since summer, and he’s enlisted some help from the nonprofit and private sector.

Collins and his wife, author Vicki Vantoch, have supported Lydia Place for a while. They first got connected while participating in their Adopt a Family program over Christmas one year.

As Collins worked more with Lydia Place, he learned more about the struggles they have finding housing for their clients.

“They were having difficulty placing families into housing because the housing market is so tight,” he said. “Landlords have so many applicants for each vacancy, there’s always a better-qualified applicant who has perfect credit and landlord history.”

Collins and Vantoch own a rental property, and Vantoch reached out to their property manager, Troy Muljat, owner of Landmark Real Estate Management and The Muljat Group real estate company.

They wanted to open up some of their units to Lydia Place’s clients. Muljat loved the idea, and ran with it. By December, they had found housing for 12 families total.

They wanted to expand the program further, but Lydia Place’s resources were maxed out.

“That’s when I did this little T-shirt fundraiser,” Collins said.

The goal was to raise $100,000. They exceeded it. Beginning in January, Collins and Lydia Place are launching a local fundraising campaign, to continue funding the partnership. Random Acts, the charitable foundation Collins co-founded, plans to match up to $64,000 in donations made by the local community.

“We are trying to put Bellingham families into housing,” Collins said. “This community I think is the right place to help on that.”

A housing crisis, made worse

Lydia Place has been helping Bellingham’s homeless population get shelter and services since 1989. Its goal is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness, focusing on getting children and families into housing, and on the path to success.

In January 2017, the annual homeless census found 742 people were homeless living in Whatcom County. Before they lost their housing, more than two-thirds of them lived in the county. The census also counted 94 homeless families with children. Of those, 74 were single-parent families.

People coming off the street are directed to Lydia Place by the Opportunity Council.

“The primary thing they’re going to get right off the bat would be really intensive case management,” Emily O’Connor, executive director of Lydia Place, said.

They get set up with a case manager, who helps them get their paperwork in order, apply for any assistance, connect them with care and education for their children and connect them with mental health care if they need it.

Lydia Place also helps find them housing, and sometimes helps them pay rent.

Recently, its job has become more difficult.

“It has gotten harder and harder to find property management companies who are willing to rent to us,” O’Connor said.

Part of the problem is getting vouchers for subsidized housing in the Bellingham rental market.

The federal government decides what it considers a fair market rent for the area, and it won’t subsidize housing for low-income people above that level.

However, as the rental market gets tighter in Bellingham, landlords are able to charge more for rent, often above what the federal government designates as fair market value.

So often, it’s difficult for Lydia Place to even find a unit that’s cheap enough to qualify for government subsidy. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the landlord will decide to accept the government vouchers.

That was the existing challenge. Then in spring of 2017, news broke that the Trump administration planned to cut $6 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the organization that pays for the Section 8 vouchers, the commonly-used subsidized housing program.

The Whatcom County Housing Authority estimates those cuts could eventually lead to 200 fewer vouchers available to people in Whatcom County.

“As other resources dwindle, we need our community to step up,” O’Connor said.

The private sector steps up

In fall of 2017, the apartment vacancy rate in the county was .6 percent. That’s according to the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Studies.

With a market that tight, it’s difficult for a person with a stable income to find an apartment, let alone someone facing the additional challenges of poverty, and needing a subsidy to pay rent.

“With the rental market very strong, rental owners, they can sometimes be very selective on their tenants,” Muljat said. Many property owners often don’t even accept Section 8 vouchers.

“There’s a lot of stereotypes in the community on homelessness,” Muljat said.

One of the things he’s working to do is end those stereotypes.

After Collins and Vantoch opened up some of their units, Muljat wanted to encourage his other property owners to do the same.

“We’ve made it rewarding and fun,” he said.

He set up some incentives to encourage property owners to lower the rents on some of their units and allow Lydia Place’s families to move in.

If the property owners agree to the program, Landmark doesn’t charge them any management fees on those units. It also pays for extra insurance, so there’s little risk to the property owner.

Kimberly Huizenga, director of property management at Landmark, said that Lydia Place being involved makes it easier to convince property owners to sign on.

“Lydia Place is really involved with its residents,” Huizenga said. Once Lydia Place helps place a family, it keeps it contact with them, continuing to offer services and help them.

Property owners get an extra guarantee with Lydia Place involved.

“They will make a payment plan, or have even stepped up and helped pay the rent,” Huizenga said. “It’s in essence like having a co-signer on the lease.”

She said Landmark’s goal for 2018 is to expand the partnership, and house 24 families.

“I would like to see the private sector solve the problem, period,” Muljat said.

A template to follow

Homelessness is an issue that’s close to Collins’ heart.

“I was raised by a single mom who was on welfare at times and we were homeless for some stretches of my childhood,” Collins said, “and it’s just an issue that has a lot of personal resonance for me.”

He regularly walks by the drop-in shelter on Holly Street.

“I make a point when I’m going by to drop by and say hi to folks,” he said.

“Also having young kids myself, I just think about the prospect of being a homeless parent with small children,” he said. “Because I am a parent I feel like I have a little more of an empathetic understanding of what that might be like and it seems really hard.”

Then, he watched as the federal government threatened cuts to HUD, the subsidized housing program his family relied on when he was a child.

“We were in subsidized housing for several years when I was a kid as well, and I know that had a profound beneficial impact on my family,” he said. “And I’m very disappointed to see our federal government cutting that.”

That means the burden falls to local communities.

“It’s property owners. It’s individuals in the community. It’s whomever can help,” he said. “I feel like times like that are all hands on deck.”

Muljat also feels called to do his part.

“I think, yes, we are obligated to help,” Muljat said. “We’re called as business leaders to give back.”

His hope is that this idea spreads to his competition.

“I would challenge other property owners, landlords, property management companies to do the same,” Muljat said.

Collins has hope, however, that this partnership has the potential to spread, even beyond Bellingham.

“I also love the idea of the way that Bellingham tackles its housing problem and it’s homelessness problem could someday be a template that other towns and cities try to follow,” he said.

Jan. 3: This story has been updated to reflect that Random Acts will be matching up to $64,000 in community donations.

2018 Real Estate Predictions

2018 housing
Below are predictions for the 2018 real estate market, based on data that was available at the time this was written:

Interest Rates – With the Tax Reform Bill and new infrastructure, we expect interest rates to rise. A climb to 4.0%-4.5% is probable but it is possible that if the economy grows at a good clip next year, we could see rates as high as 5%. We believe the average for the year will be about 4.6%. Although this rise will cause some buyers to regroup, it will not be enough to make a strong market shift and cause buyers to leave the market in droves.

Home Price Growth – With double-digit percentage price increases in many markets across the country in 2017, we believe we will move back to price inclines below 10% in those busy markets. In fact, it is foreseeable that the average for those areas that did see such strong increases in 2017 will scale back to about 4-7% gains in 2018. Nationally, prices are expected to increase about 3.2%. Between November 2016 and November 2017, in Whatcom County the median sales price grew by 9.8%; in our Lynden market, it grew 16.5%.

New Construction – Our country needs about 1.5 million new starts per year to maintain inventory, but since 2009 we have been short a cumulative almost 6 million units. This is one of the primary causes of our inventory shortage and what is driving prices up – demand outweighs supply. Local issues in many areas such as zoning and water rights are also capping new construction opportunity. In addition, the cost of building supplies is causing problems for our builders and we expect this problem to worsen in 2018.
Housing Inventory – Although there are improvements in this category because we are adding some new housing units, it may take years or more for inventory levels to get back to a balanced level. Additionally, it is predicted that more buyers will be entering the market for a home as our economy is strong with low unemployment, which we suspect will get even lower due to our economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 4.1% for November 2017, which is the lowest it has been since December of 2000. it is predicted unemployment to be in the high 3% range by the end of 2018.

Market Stability – we are often asked when the bubble will burst or we will see another crash. We do not foresee this in the upcoming year. Although we are seeing prices rise quickly, the conditions that our national market is facing now are not the same as what we saw just a decade ago. There isn’t the easy access to credit as there was before the last crash when banks were more de-regulated. There aren’t enough new or resale homes to satiate current demand, unlike the building boom of the mid-2000s. Buyers are not overleveraged and, in many cases, have to put more cash down to compete in multiple-offer situations, allowing buyers to start in a higher equity position. Based on our history and the facts that are in front of us, I don’t believe another crash is likely at all.

The Muljat Group North real estate office is excited for what 2018 has in store! For additional information and predictions on our local market, please call our office at 360-354-4242.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Mortgage rates were in a holding pattern this week, even after the Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to hike its benchmark interest rate.

“As widely expected, the Fed increased the federal funds target rate this week for the third time in 2017,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “The market had already priced in the rate hike, so long-term interest rates—including mortgage rates—hardly moved. Mortgage rates held relatively flat across the board, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate inching down 1 basis point to 3.93 percent in this week’s survey. Mortgage rates have been in a holding pattern for the fourth quarter, remaining within a 10 basis point range since October.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 14:
•30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.94 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.16 percent.
•15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.37 percent.
•5-year hybrid adjustable rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.3 point, rising from last week’s 3.35 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.19 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Recognizing Clutter for What It Is

When real estate pros talk to clients about decluttering their homes, they might not realize what they’re getting into. In fact, getting rid of stuff can be painful, even for those who aren’t hoarders or recent widows. It’s the normal, everyday resistance to purging our belongings that attracts Christy Diane Farr to the world of self-help writing and life coaching.
In Is Home Your Happy Place: The Unruly Woman’s Approach to Space Healing (Paper Angel Press), Farr explains that society reinforces the idea that hanging onto stuff is normal, and that she wants to help otherwise healthy people downsize in a balanced way. “The whole off-site storage industry popped up to reinforce that it’s not just normal but often necessary to possess more than our space will hold,” she writes. “I’m more of a normative chaos kind of guide, if there is such a thing. I want to work with people whose lives are stuck; people who are reasonably functional but who are not living the dream.”

Early in the book, Farr identifies six types of things that people hold onto that stand in the way of living that dream. I think this list is especially helpful for Book Scan readers because if real estate pros can understand the reasons behind why their clients are holding onto stuff, it might help them more skillfully ease through this transition. And if nothing else, you might consider lending them Farr’s book, which is filled with funny asides and assignments created to help people “release” the stuff that’s holding them back.

1. Stuff that makes you feel crazy. Farr uses the example of food storage containers, which I find maddeningly familiar (who hasn’t yelled exasperatedly at the cupboard containing the tupperware at least once in their life?). She encourages readers to balance the functionality of any given item with the space that’s claimed by it. “The madness of trying to manage them far outweighs anything even remotely resembling the convenience that would be using them.”
2. Stuff that’s broken. I’m totally guilty of keeping things around with the intention of repair, but without actually doing anything about it. “If you’re not going to fix it, let it go. It’s either worth the time, money, and energy it takes to make it work, or it just isn’t. Free it, and free yourself.”
3. Stuff that makes you hang onto an unpleasant past. Farr deals with this a lot throughout the book, because she clearly recognizes the pain that comes with decluttering. “The stuff is locked into the feelings and the feelings are locked into the stuff. It doesn’t matter from which side we break the lock. What matters is that we break it,” she writes. “It works because dealing with our clutter is simply a willingness to, at long last, deal with ourselves.”
4. Stuff that’s expired. Here Farr is talking both about old food and meds, but also stuff that has a less obvious expiration date. “The idea behind the expiration date challenge can be applied to all aspects of your life. Since my kids are going to college soon, my maternity clothes are expired. Books I’ve read and have no intention of reading again are expired,” she writes. “If our relationship with this stuff was intended to be eternal, caskets would be bigger. Once something expires, we can let it go.”
5. Stuff that sucks. I love this one! Farr mentions as examples cleaning products that don’t work as they say they will and clothes that don’t look good on. “Ultimately, the goal here is to own only those things that we use or truly love. We want to be surrounded by things that feel good to us.”
6. Stuff that used to be a good idea. This one is especially pertinent for the crafters out there. I like Farr’s challenge to gather all the supplies for projects left undone, and force the issue: “I put them all in this box and labeled it with an expiration date one month from today. This will keep the ‘I meant to…,’ from going on forever. Otherwise, it will. I know this because I’ve met me before. If I want a different outcome, I’ve got to do something different.”
article by: Meg White, managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving from our real estate office to you.
thanksgiving hours 2017