Good Beer; GREAT Cause!

Head to Bellingham Overflow Taps Thursday, February 21st for a fundraiser event to support the villagers in the northwestern highlands region of Guatemala! Thursday night from 6:30-8:30pm, Overflow will be hosting Stoves for Guatemala Fundraiser in collaboration with the Rotaract Club of Bellingham to raise funds for stoves to be installed in the locals’ homes in Guatemala. Bringing over new stoves will help prevent asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and other upper respiratory diseases caused by poor conditions.

If you’ve never been to the Bellingham Overflow Taps location, this is the perfect opportunity to check out the space and support a great cause. The event will include local craft beer on tap, pizza, games, a 50/50 raffle, and good company!

Image courtesy of Overflow Taps

Overflow Taps along with myself, Stefan and Audrey Elmer of Stefan and Audrey Photography, Tyler Matheis of Riverside Cabinet Company, and Daniel Vander Kooi of Manna Insurance will all be matching $0.25 per pint to support the cause! Don’t miss out… follow the link below to get tickets!

Tickets to Guatemala Stove Fundraiser Event

Winter Chills Bring Homeowner Ills!

The storm has hit, and if you made the mistake of not getting your home prepared for extreme winter conditions here in Whatcom County, here’s some advice on how to prevent or deal with current problems at hand!

How to prevent or deal with frozen pipes:

Make sure to disconnect and drain any garden hoses, turn off all water to outside faucets, cover them with insulating foam covers and open the valve to allow them to drain. We also suggest insulating exposed pipes under your home with foam pipe insulation and using a heat lamp or portable space heater to thaw any frozen pipes that have not burst. It’s also important to drip hot and cold faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms, and check on the pipes to your washing machine. After the weather returns above freezing and the frozen pipes thaw, turn off your dripping faucets and monitor the water meter for any leaks.

How to keep your home warm:

Keep your drapes and blinds closed except those windows in the direct sunlight. If possible, put up storm windows and cover or remove any window air conditioners to prevent heat from escaping or the cold entering. It may also be beneficial to repair or replace your weather stripping and thresholds around the doors and windows and maybe even put draft snakes on the window sills, between window frames, and against doors. Lastly, if you use propane or fuel oil to heat your home, make sure the tank is full, and if you heat with wood or coal, have plenty on hand!

How to care for and protect the outside of your home:

Take the time to care for your outdoor plants. Gently sweep snow off the plant or shrub in an upward motion, add mulch and cover to prevent frost damage. You can remove the covering when the temperature warms above freezing again. Tend to your driveway, but make sure not to overdo it when using a snow shovel. The best options are to use rock salt, sand, or clay based cat litter to cover your walks and drives, but take note that salt can damage grass and other plants. We also recommend staying off the roof during freezing weather and waiting for the ice and snow to melt before inspecting for damage.

The most important thing is to stay safe and prepare the best you can during extreme winter conditions! Stock up on nonperishable food and water in case the storm lasts longer than expected. Check to make sure your car has gas, cell phones are charged, and you have flashlights and batteries on hand in case the power goes out. In case of emergencies, check that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working with fresh batteries and make sure to have a working fire extinguisher on hand.

Stay safe out there and enjoy the snow!

Information courtesy of Today’s Homeowner. Follow the link to read the full article: How to Protect Your Home During Extreme Cold Weather

GOOD NEWS! Promising Solution to Housing Affordability Crisis

Image courtesy of

The recent housing affordability crisis in Washington is continuing to impact buyers, sellers, and renters in the local area. The demand for housing has not let up, but prices are out of reach and inventory levels are low. We are noticing families at all income levels struggling to find affordable home ownership opportunities, which impacts both the housing and rental markets.

Washington Realtors® have listened and are working with our state and local officials to solve the growing affordability crisis in local communities. The Unlock the Door in Washington coalition is a campaign focused on building more homes of all size and kind. We need more choices for people including a variety of new construction, apartment complexes, and condominiums. Affordability and increased inventory is the focus of the coalition, and our Realtors® are pressing the envelop to get government officials on board with addressing the issue.

You can learn more and even share how the housing inventory crisis has impacted YOU at Unlock the Door in Washington.

Top 5 Tips to Listing During the Winter Months

The winter months can be a great time to get your home sold. Whether you are just putting your home on the market or have had your home on the market for awhile, there are some winter maintenance items you should be sure to make time for to keep your home looking fresh and safe no matter what the weather is like outside.

Image Courtesy of Radley Muller Photography

Here in Whatcom County, the winters tend to be cold and rainy and homes out in the county may be even more effected by the change in weather. Here are 5 ways to ensure your home has the best sales potential even during not so desirable weather conditions:

  1. Make sure the road and driveway are clear of snow. Never let the accessibility of your home be an obstacle to a potential showing. Clear the snow from all outdoor walkways and make sure the stairs have been deiced to ensure no one slips and falls.
  2. Clean up all the leaves! Clear any outside decks, stairs, and walkways in the yard. Even though the weather may be chilly, you want potential buyers to get excited about your home’s outdoor living potential. Also, make sure to blow all the leaves off your roof. Not only do you want your roof looking clean for potential buyers, in the event you receive an offer and the inspector will be checking the roof, you’ll need it to be accessible.
  3. Tidy up any garden areas. Yes, vegetables and plants generally succumb once temperatures drop and the frost hits, but there are still ways to make the space look presentable. Trim any ornamental grasses and dead foliage and rake the soil to neaten up the area.
  4. Regularly clean your windows – inside and out. With the low winter sun coming in at an angle, smudges and dirt on the glass tend to stand out more than ever. Take advantage of that natural sunlight the winter months have to offer, but don’t let what could be a benefit turn into a potential criticism.
  5. Keep the interior and exterior lights on at all times unless you are able to come home quickly before a showing to turn them all on. Lighting can be a major factor in the quality of a showing especially during the winter when it’s dark and cold outside. Give your home a welcoming and cozy ambiance!

For any additional tips on the steps you should take for your potential home, please feel free to reach out at 360-410-1297 or send an email to

Blankers Estates on the Ridge FAQ

Below is a list of common questions that we have been receiving lately in regards to the Blankers Estates on the Ridge lots. We hope that these answers give the community a better understanding into the details of the development. Please reach out with any further questions or interest!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are the lots in the flood plain?

Below is a map of the plat showing the 100-year flood plain line. The area in blue is the only area located in the 100-year flood plain. Of the 27 lots still available, only 4 have any area that is located in the 100-year flood plain. The area in the flood plain, which is below the 50’ elevation, can be used for setbacks and for lawn area sports courts or any other function of a back yard, but no permanent structure can be built in the flood zone. The lots that are affected have all been mitigated so they all have at least a 10,000’ area that is out of the floodplain.

2. Are the lots ready to build?

Apart from the 4 lots that we did flood mitigation on, the lots are all fully serviced and ready to start construction. The 4 available lots that we mitigated the flood plain on are waiting for the new LOMR from FEMA which is the new elevation certificate. We are currently 30 days into the 60-day period that it takes to get the new LOMR.

3. What is meant by the additional dwelling unit?

What makes this development unique is that it is in the RM2 Zone, which allows for building multiple units on the lot. Covenants and restrictions allow the main house to consist of a minimum 2,500’ of living space but also allows for an additional dwelling unit to be placed on the lot with a maximum of 1100’ of living space or a shop with a maximum of 1100’ of living space in the shop. The additional dwelling unit can be used as a secondary residence or can be rented out for additional income.

4. Do the lots need any additional fill?

The soils are all sand once you get through the topsoil which is great structural fill. The 4 lots that we filled as part of the flood mitigation have been filled with sand and gravel and have all been compacted and tested the building standards.                

Contact Jerry Blankers with further inquiries: 360-410-1297

2018 in Review

Happy New Year!! Now that the craziness of the holiday season has officially died down, it’s a great idea to reflect on the past year, take note of positives to take with you into the new year and also identify any changes you might make this time around. 2018 was a successful year for our team and we want to use our strengths to help YOU achieve your real estate goals this year!

Throughout 2018, we saw distinct forces at work in the local housing market in terms of supply, demand, and affordability. Supply levels were at historic lows due to lack of existing homes being resold along with continued lack of new construction and foreclosures going on the market. On the other hand, demand was high, so properties were moving quickly and the market was very competitive. As we entered into the third and fourth quarter of 2018, demand started to shift as buyers could no longer keep up with the high prices and affordability became a noticeable issue.

Going into 2019, the economy is humming along with unemployment at almost historic lows, GDP is up, consumer confidence is up, and the Millennial generation are ready to buy and can afford to do so. We are expecting buyers to try and capitalize on interest rates that are foreseen to slightly rise throughout the year.

If one of your goals for 2019 is to get active in the real estate market, we have the experience and expertise to best prepare you to succeed. In the last year, we helped over 30 clients sell their properties at an average of 98% of their list price and took on average only 37 days to do so! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about our custom listing packages and why our team dynamic gives us an edge in servicing our clients.

Wishing everyone a year filled with growth and happiness!

It’s Still a GREAT Time to Sell!

In 2018, we saw distinct forces at work in the housing market: supply, demand, and affordability. Although these factors are always at play, the pressure increased this year and is predicted to continue into 2019. Looking at the inventory shortage we continue to see in Whatcom County, sellers might see the New Year as a great time to put their home on the market.

Supply levels are low due to a lack of existing homes being resold. The number of years we are staying in our homes has reached an all-time high of 10 years which is one of the main contributors to the inventory shortage. Also, there is a continued lack of new construction and foreclosures to add to our inventory levels. On the other hand, demand has been high and is expected to continue to be so. The economy is humming along with unemployment at a almost historic lows, GDP is up, consumer confidence is up, and Millennials that can afford to buy are ready to do so.

As a seller, it is important to be smart and not fall victim to what we call “greedy seller syndrome.” The high demand for housing has caused prices to soar out of a comfortable price range for buyers. Interest rates are also on the rise, which makes affordability another force at play in the market. Many buyers are taking a step back and assessing the situation instead of moving forward, which is a sign that the market hit its peak.

That being said, there is still a huge demand for housing, but sellers must get realistic about their price. Many buyers will try and capitalize on interest rates that are expected to rise throughout 2019, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

We have the experience and expertise and want to make sure either party is educated and prepared when entering the market. Give us a call if you’d like to make a move in the New Year!

Maximizing Your Tax Strategy with Real Estate

You don’t have to be a real estate investor to receive tax benefits when it comes to owning real estate. Of course, you should work with your accountant to make sure you are applying all rules correctly to your particular situation, but here are some basics to keep in mind:

Image courtesy of National Society of Tax Professionals

Itemizing Interest and Property Taxes – Recent changes in the tax laws via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have some folks choosing the standard deduction rather than itemizing items such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes. But before you assume you should take the easy route and take the standard deduction, do the math.

Here are a few facts about these deductions:

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction is limited to interest paid on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt incurred after 12/14/17 to buy or improve a first or second home
  • The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000

However, if the amount you pay for these items falls under those limits and you need to reduce your adjusted gross income for the year, you may be able to prepay and increase your deductions for the current year. For example, you may consider prepaying your January mortgage in December or your property taxes, increasing your deductions.

Also, for many mortgages, the first full year of the mortgage has the most owed in interest due to amortization. Furthermore, if points (prepaid interest) are paid when the loan is originated that may also be deductible. This is good information to have when considering a purchase or refinance.

Again, check with your accountant before assuming the above are the right steps for you to take.

Profits from The Sale of a Home – Also known as the capital gains tax, if there is a profit made on the sale of a home, it is taxed. However, the first $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers is excluded so long as the owners have lived in the property as a primary residence for two of the last five years.

For example, say you purchased a home in 2005 for $300,000. You sold it in 2018 for $600,000. You have lived in this home by yourself and it has served as your primary residence for this entire time. You have made $300,000 on your investment, but the first $250,000 is not taxed.

In addition, if you made improvements to the property in that time (not maintenance, but improvements), then you can also offset your gains by the amount you invested in those improvements. For example, if you added a sprinkler system or added a bathroom in the basement, those are improvements. Keep those receipts and keep careful track.

Additional rules apply and I recommend reviewing with your accountant.

Questions? I recommend reaching out to your accountant to review your tax situation as it pertains to real estate, but if he or she gives you advice that has you looking to upgrade your current home, make a move, or start looking for an investment, reach out!

Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade & Soup Kitchen

Image courtesy of Lynden Chamber of Commerce

This year’s Lighted Christmas Parade was one for the books! If you were able to make it out on Saturday night, it was a cold one but we were grateful for no rain or wind this year. It was great to see so many locals and visitors on Front Street on Saturday not only for the parade, but all day enjoying the Christmas music, hitting up the local shops, and having fun with the Elf on the Shelf event.

Our office put on the annual Soup Kitchen, serving free cups of soup to parade watchers. We sold out of soup in under an hour, so I’d say it was a success!

Thanks to everyone that attended this year’s parade and hopefully got to warm up with a delicious cup of soup provided by the staff at Muljat Group North!