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.

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

rates121417
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

Fair 2017
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!

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!

home value

#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

Whatcom County Water Rights

The Washington Supreme Court decision in Hirst et al. vs. Whatcom County, WA Sup. Ct. No. 91475-3, took away the right of rural property owners to develop small household sized wells. This case, you may recall, concerned Whatcom County’s use of exempt wells to allow construction in the unincorporated portions of Whatcom County, particularly in areas where the watershed had not been closed. The County argued that it was able to rely on the Dept. of Ecology’s determinations concerning water availability to make such decisions and to grant permits for construction where the water would be provided by an exempt well.
The Senate’s effort to save household wells was highlighted at a hearing Tuesday, February 21, 2017, before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Property owners from Whatcom County and elsewhere said they have been devastated by the Supreme Court’s decision last fall that took away their rights to drill wells, and with it, their right to build on the land. A vote on SB 5239 is expected this week.
A hearing in Olympia makes a compelling case for household wells, property owners. Please watch the following Hearing:


Follow effort to save household wells on Washington State Senator, Doug Erickson’s, webpage: Senator Doug Erickson Webpage

Housing Market 2017

housing-2017

These 3 trends will shape the housing market in 2017

1. Rates: In December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time since 2006, and a majority of the members of the Fed’s rate-setting board predict there will be three more increases coming in 2017.

2. More Credit: Though mortgage rates may fall, mortgage credit will likely be more widely available due to slightly looser lending standards. The Federal Housing Administration will likely lower fees it charges first-time homebuyers. In addition, starting in 2017, government-owned mortgage companies will begin backing large mortgages for the first time in over a decade, making it easier for buyers in expensive markets to finance their purchases.

3. More New Homes: The overall trend in home construction is clearly positive, with the average annual rate of new groundbreakings reaching a 1.163 million rate so far in 2016, up about 5% from 1.108 million in 2015. Expect this to continue in 2017, as home buyers are encouraged by higher wages, looser credit, and increased demand from buyers.

According to 2016 data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service the average listing price for a 3 bedroom home in Lynden was $317,3999. The average sold price for a 3 bedroom home in Lynden was $310,954 and the the average square footage: 1,835.

So will you be jumping into the 2017 marketing market? The mortgage rates are still low and if you have strong credit we encourage you to take the plunge. Really, any day is a good day to invest in real estate. Call our office and talk to a licensed and experienced, Realtor®, whether it be purchasing real estate or selling real estate. We have an onsite mortgage consultant, Casey Porter, Caliber Home Loans who would gladly answer your mortgage inquiries.

fortune.com/2016/real-estate-trends

Kid’s Design An Ad Contest – Lynden Tribune Newspaper

We want to thank all the 5th grade kids from Isom Elementary that participated in the Design An Ad contest. We enjoyed all the entries that were designed specifically for our real estate office. The winner we chose was created by, Khushi. Congratulations Khushi!! We loved that you had our company logo, office contact information and the tag line……”Come to Muljat Group where we get your house sold in no time” design-an-ad-2016-winner43

Real Estate Market Heating Up Locally

market
On June 29, 2016, Jerry Blankers, from our firm was interviewed by Tim Newcomb of the Lynden Tribune Newspaper about the hot real estate market. Here are some of the highlights from the interview.

Right now, anything under $400,000 in Lynden is selling well, fitting into the sweet spot of single-family housing. Jerry Blankers, managing broker for Muljat Group North said that as inventory remains short – “there’s not a lot out there” – and interest rates hold low, often under 4 percent, prices of homes have begun to increase. That said, predictors of rising interest rates have moved buyers into the market. “If people are going to get in, they better get in,” Jerry says. “Inventory is down, almost scary low. There is not a lot out there.
As prices go up, the low interest rates still make it affordable to buy. You buy according to what you can afford. If rates go up, it makes a huge impact on what you can afford to buy. It isn’t only homes in Lynden selling well, as property – both residential and commercial has strengthened across north Whatcom County. The local uptick really started earlier this year with the prediction of higher interest rates by the end of 2016, and the initial wave of higher pricing on homes started in Bellingham and few months before moving north.

So if you are planning on buying a home you better jump right in! Contact a Muljat Group North Real Estate Broker today, 360-354-4242