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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

2017 Northwest Washington Fair

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Five days until the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden. You don’t want to miss out on any of the fun! Carnival rides, great food fair, awesome grandstand entertainers, demolition derby, rodeo, animal exhibits, quilts, canning, arts, photography, 4H and FFA exhibits. For over 100 years the Northwest Washington Fair has highlighted the agriculture of the Whatcom County area. Dairy and beef cattle, horses, and many other species of livestock are shown by 4H, FFA and Open Class exhibitors. There are hundreds of exhibits featuring baked goods, canning, flowers and fresh produce grown locally.

The Fair is located at 1775 Front Street, Lynden.
The gates open at 9 a.m. each day and close at 10 p.m.. Carnival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Demo Derby is on Monday, August 14, with shows happening at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Lynden PRCA Rodeo is happening August 15 & August 16. The top cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will compete in the 13th annual rodeo. The event includes bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing. Children 10 and younger will be admitted for FREE to the performances, which start at 7:30 p.m., both nights. Tickets are on sale now – get them while they last!

Grandstand entertainers this year include the rock band, Night Ranger, which performs 80-100 live shows annually and they continue to release new music even though the band is 35 years old. Night Ranger will be rocking the stage on August 17. Musical country star and ‘American Idol’ winner of 2011, Scotty McCreery will be performing on August 18. “Fluffy” Gabriel Iglesias, first time comedian to headline a fair grandstand show on Saturday, evening August 19.

Ride free to the Fair and everywhere! WTA is community driven and ride the buses free during August 13-19. Also, watch out for the many parking lots around town that offer free bus rides to and from the fair!

Our real estate booth will be set up in the commercial exhibit building – please drop by and say hello! Hope to see you at the Northwest Washington Fair!

19th Annual Curt Maberry Memorial Classic 3-On-3

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The Curt Maberry 3-On-3 literally took over Lynden last weekend. Our office presents and organizes this community event every year and next year will be the 20th year. We welcomed over 200 teams to Lynden with athletes from kindergarten to men’s competitive.
The 3-On-3 is held in conjunction with the Northwest Raspberry Festival with fun-filled activities on Friday and Saturday.
Live music, a classic car & truck show, street market, kid’s zone, a food court, and street vendors were just a few of the highlights that were held downtown.
The $2 icecream icecream from Darigold topped with local raspberries from Maberry Farms is always a delight and favorite dessert.
If you missed the 2017 Northwest Raspberry Festival or the Curt Maberry Memorial 3-on-3 mark your calendars for the 3rd weekend of July, 2018! See you next year!

Northwest Raspberry Festival

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The Northwest Raspberry Festival is this weekend, July 14-15, 2017, in downtown, Lynden. Don’t miss out on all the fun events happening in “Berry Beautiful Lynden”
The Muljat Group North Real Estate office will be presenting the 19th Annual Curt Maberry Memorial Classic 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on Friday & Saturday. This is a huge event that draws 200+ teams from multiple counties and Canada. Teams play right smack in downtown on Front Street with thousands of people cheering on their favorite 3-on-3 basketball team.
The $2 icecream with raspberries is supplied locally by Edaleen Dairy and Curt Maberry Farms. This dessert is so popular that it has ran out in previous years. So get in line for this refreshing treat.
On Saturday the 3-on-3 basketball games continue to be played! The Razz and Shine Classic car and truck cruise in is happening on Saturday with classics parked along tree-lined Front Street. The weather will be beautiful this weekend in the eighties. Perfect weather to stroll around the polished classics of yesteryear!
A street stage will be set up on 6th Street on Friday, July 14, and will feature, Scot Ranney from 3:00pm-5:00pm and The Anissa Quartet, from 5:30pm-8:00pm. On Saturday the Street Stage will host at 11:00am-12:00pm, the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band; 12:30pm-2:30pm Out of The Ashes; 3:00pm-5:00pm Clearbrook Dixieland.
A variety of family fun events for all! Check them out right here or contact the Lynden Chamber of Commerce for more details. The Lynden Chamber of Commerce telephone number is 360-354-5995. We look forward to seeing you this weekend at the RAZZ!
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Escalation Clause With Competing Offers


It’s a hot real estate market! The brokers at the office are dealing with competing offers and some buyer’s are willing to pay more that what the seller is asking. With multiple-offer situations, we see escalator clauses being more widely used. Adding an escalation clause to your offer is strategy you can use when competing with another bidder. It is designed to keep your offer competitive and there is no guarantee that the seller will accept your offer, even if it is the highest bid. A seller is free to accept the offer they choose to work with. In some instances, a seller sees a lower cash offer being better than a higher financed offer. Buyers should write an escalation that retains an appraisal contingency, so that the actual price will conform to the lender’s appraisal.
Check out the graph depicted showing the median amount of days that homes are on the Market – Whatcom County being the green line and the red line being homes in Lynden. What a difference from 2015 to 2017!
Call our office 360.354.4242 and we will set you up with a licensed Realtor that knows the Whatcom County real estate market. It’s a seller’s market out there – don’t hesitate!

10 Tips To Increase Your Home’s Value!

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#1. Fix All Repairs! Remember that not all improvements are cosmetic. Fixing roofs, inspecting for termites and hidden water leaks are just some of the things to keep an eye out for. Consider hiring an inspector to help.
#2. Add Fresh Paint. Simply purchasing a $25 gallon of neutral paint (to appeal to a broader audience) you’re enhancing the value of your home by making it look clean and updated!
#3. Replace Carpet. Replacing old, dusty carpets with new ones or wood floors improves air quality & creates a modern look!
#4. Low-Maintenance Landscaping. Planting trees and shrubs adds valuable curb appeal & is great for the environment!
#5. Enhance the bathroom. If you don’t have the money to make large bathroom upgrades like replacing old toilets and showers, try simply replacing outdated wallpaper or upgrading the rest of the décor.
#6. Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade! Don’t stop at upgrading the bathroom! An upgraded kitchen adds a TREMENDOUS value to your home! Again if you can’t afford big upgrades simply replace a countertop or paint over your cabinets with a new paint finish. Consider upgrading other rooms in your house as well!
#7. Consider a Ceiling Spruce. 1/6 of your room’s total area is the ceiling. Again, even if you don’t have a lot of money, consider adding a molding or box beams to increase the value of the room by improving the look of the ceiling.
#8. Create a Welcoming Entrance. Consider going to a home improvement store to give your old, outdated front door an attractive replacement. Front doors should compliment your home’s overall design.
#9. See the Light! Consider hiring an electrician to add lights to rooms that are dim or smaller than others. Adding lights make the rooms look larger and shows you have nothing to hide.
information by HGTV