It’s Wassail Time! Our Favorite Holiday Tradition

Johnson Team Holiday TraditionsHope you and your family are enjoying the holiday season and all that it brings!

No matter what holiday you embrace and choose to celebrate, there is always some sort of tradition that symbolizes the holiday season to you. For The Johnson Team, that holiday tradition is Lylene making her famous “Wassail.” Wassail is a wonderful holiday drink that is a combination of fruit juices and spices that will keep your home smelling like the holidays and provide a cup of cheer for all ages. We all enjoy the incredible smell and holiday memories we hold dear.

If you would like to try making Wassail for yourself or your next holiday party follow the recipe below:

  • 1 can frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1/2 can orange/pineapple juice concentrate
  • 3 1/2 cans water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10-12 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

Make in a pot on the stove, a crock pot, or a coffee maker used solely for wassail.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays from The Johnson Team!

Raspberry Oat Bars- From the Kitchen of Fawn Morgan

From Our Recipe Box To Yours

Raspberry Oat Bars from the kitchen of Fawn Morgan

“Raspberries are a local favorite and what ever way to enjoy them then in a sweet raspberry bar! These are one of our favorites around the Morgan house.” Fawn Morgan


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 fresh berries mashed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 8 inch square pan, and line with greased foil.

Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

A Few Tips & Tricks to Turbocharge Your Home’s Curb Appeal

If you want to turbocharge your home’s appeal before you put it on the market, there are several tips you need to remember.

First, when buyers pull up to your house to take a look at it, keep in mind that its first
impression has to be good. Whenever we host an open house, it’s disheartening for us agents
to watch a buyer pull up to the curb, linger for a minute, and then drive on. Whenever this
happens, you know something is wrong with the home’s curb appeal.
To prevent this from happening to you, look at your house from the curb and see if there’s any
area that needs to be spruced up. For example, make sure you have a clean entryway with a
nice welcome mat. Also, make sure your doorbell works.
Once people come inside, you want to create the impression that nobody wears shoes in your
home. We’d then advise taking it a step further by actually putting up a sign in the entryway that
asks buyers to remove their shoes and have a chair for them to sit on so they can do it.
Next, make sure all the lights are on inside and it’s as bright as possible. If you have a few
shady areas, install some higher-wattage bulbs near them—this really makes a big difference.
Additionally, your house has to be super clean. It’s amazing how many houses we go into that
makes us wonder whether the seller has spent any time at all preparing it for sale. We’ve never
seen a buyer not walk into a kitchen and open the stove to see if it’s clean inside. If it’s not, it
sends a message that you haven’t really taken care of the house. Just a little effort in this regard
can go a long way.
After that, make sure the house smells good. There are a couple ways you can do this, the
first of which we’ve already mentioned: cleaning. After that’s done, try stopping by your local
hardware store and picking up an ozone machine to set out. That will take care of any lingering
odors and make the place smell great.
As far as the home’s structure goes, there are a couple of mechanical things you can do that will
help your cause. If there’s moss on the roof, for instance, have that cleaned off. Unless you do
these types of things ahead of time, the inspector will notice them once they conduct their
Lastly, declutter, declutter, declutter. The more stuff you take out of your house, the better it
will show. And remember—it’s an absolute necessity that you not be there during showings. If
you have pets, make sure they’re out of the house as well.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to showing your home in the best light
possible. If you want to take it a step further and hire a home stager, we have our own stage we
work with who we’d love to refer you to.
If you have any other questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach
out to us. We look forward to speaking with you. You can reach us at 1-888-713-3056 today!

Structuring Your Offer to Dominate the Competition

In our current market, we’ve noticed an influx of buyers making cash offers on the homes they
want. This is great news for the seller, but if you’re another buyer who also wants to make a bid
on the same home as a cash buyer, this can present some challenges. You’ll need to make
your offer especially enticing to compete with cash buyers.

One way to do this is to get a letter from your lender—one that is so strong that it puts your offer
on par with that of a cash buyer. Now, this letter isn’t a pre-approval letter, but rather an
underwritten approval letter that’s subject only to title and appraisal . If you do that, you will
be miles ahead of any other financed offer.
Above and beyond that, another thing to consider is to shorten—or eliminate entirely—some
contingencies in your offer . For example, you could shorten the inspection contingency from
the typical 10-day period to one or two days. In fact, if you get permission from the listing agent,
you could schedule the inspector to come to the house prior to the seller examining their offers.
Though it might not seem like a big deal, having an open, positive line of communication
with the listing agent can make all the difference between a seller accepting or rejecting your
offer. Too many agents take things for granted and have an aggressive demeanor when it
comes to representing their clients, but a good agent avoids coming off harsh or aloof.
Adding an escalation clause to your offer may well keep it on the table , too. Essentially,
this is a clause in your contract that states you’re willing to pay X amount for the home, but if a
competitor offers a higher price than that, you’re willing to increase your offer to Y amount. With
this clause, you could potentially outbid your competition without necessarily exceeding your
budget, and it may just entice the seller to strongly consider your quality financed offer over a
cash offer.
Additionally, try writing a “love letter” to the seller . This letter should explain what you love
about the seller’s home, why you’re so motivated to buy it, and what it would mean for you and
your family to live there. This makes the seller feel good, and it also helps them get to know you,
which can give you the edge in a multiple-offer situation.
Finally, make sure your offer is complete . We’ve had scenarios in which there were several
competing buyers, some of whom failed to fully complete their offers by leaving certain boxes
unchecked or providing inaccurate or confusing information. This doesn’t necessarily happen
that often, but diligence and accuracy are both qualities that can set your offer apart, as well.

Call us today at (360) 303-2734 to learn more today!

New Retailers Are Calling the Granary Building Home!

It’s just been announced the Bellingham’s Granary building will be home to several new tenants!

According to the Bellingham Herald, ” Holly Bevan-Bumford has announced plans to open a Good To Go Meat Pies eatery in the building, which is in Bellingham’s Waterfront District near Waypoint Park. She’s planning to have the place ready by mid-June, just in time for summer park-goers.

A new meadery called Artizem also is making plans to lease space on the ground floor and basement.”

If you have questions about other Bellingham happenings don’t hesitate to give the Johnson Team Real Estate a call today at 360.303.2734, we would love to fill you in!

Selling Your House: Here’s Why You Need A Pro In Your Corner!

Selling Your House: Here’s Why You Need A Pro In Your Corner! | MyKCM

With home prices on the rise and buyer demand still strong, some sellers may be tempted to try to sell their homes on their own rather than using the services of a real estate professional.

Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation while, in most cases, the seller is not. Sellers must realize that their ability to negotiate will determine whether or not they get the best deal for themselves and their families.

Here is a list of just some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to For Sale by Owner (FSBO):

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interests of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The termite company, if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender, if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value
  • The title company, if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality, if you need to get the CO permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer, in case there are challenges with the house your buyer is selling

Bottom Line

The percentage of sellers who have hired real estate agents to sell their homes has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Let’s get together to discuss all that we can do to make the process of selling your house easier for you.

Today’s Mortgage Rates Determine Affordability

Thinking of buying, selling, or refinancing?  The mortgage rates are a must know! Interest rates are the rates at which money can be borrowed for a set period of time. The higher the rate, the more money a borrower must pay in the form of interest on the loan. When mortgage rates are lower, this makes the purchasing of a home more affordable. Although the cost of mortgages is closely tied to the interest rate, the price at which homes are sold does not always appear in direct correlation.


Thank you Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Home Loan Center for the rates. If you have any mortgage questions you can reach her at 360-650-5365!

Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time!

Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time! | MyKCM

Every year around this time, many homeowners begin the process of preparing their homes in case of extreme winter weather. Some others skip winter all together by escaping to their vacation homes in a warmer climate.

For those homeowners staying at their first residence, AccuWeather warns:

“The late-week cold shot should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February.”

Given this, it’s time to go and stock up on winter weather supplies! However, if you’re tired of shoveling snow and dealing with the cold weather, maybe it’s time to consider obtaining a vacation home!

According to the Investment & Vacation Home Buyers 2018 Report by NAR:

72% of vacation property owners and 71% of investment property owners believe now is a good time to buy.”

It’s time to take advantage of the equity in your home. As the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions stated:

“Nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties (are) equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 433,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013.

The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.”

This means that over a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to use some of their home equity to make a significant down payment toward a vacation home, and many are doing just that! According to the same report by NAR:

“33% of vacation buyers purchased in a beach area, 21% purchased on a lakefront, and 15% purchased a vacation home in the country.”

Many homeowners who are close to retirement will use some of their equity to purchase vacation homes, which may eventually become their permanent homes post-retirement!

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by investing in a vacation home, let’s get together to discuss your options! Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at

Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve Hiking

We have some pretty awesome hiking locations in Whatcom County. If you love beautiful scenery, the addition of 4 miles of new trails in the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve will definitely be something you will want to check out! These trailheads are the most recent trails built for Whatcom county parkland, and are accessed adjacent to Sudden Valley. The new trails span 8,844 acres on both sides of Lake Whatcom. The land used for the trails was transferred from the state to Whatcom County in 2014. Currently, all new trails are open for use, with the exception of Cougar Ridge Trail, as crews are working on this trails completion.

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The new trails include:

Rufus Creek Trail
Starting at the Lookout Mountain Trailhead, Rufus Creek Trail gently climbs for 4.3 miles. It goes through a variety of forest types, streams, wetlands, and has amazing views of sandstone cliffs.

Waterfall Trail
A stunning waterfall is accessed by a short loop trail near the junction of Rufus Creek Trail and the LM-2000 Road.

Baneberry Trail
This steep trail makes a large loop out of Rufus Creek Trail. Bikes travel uphill only on this trail.

Leila June Trail
This is a hiker only trail and is part of the original Lookout Mountain Loop. There are plenty of options for shorter or longer hikes with this trail!

Cougar Ridge Trail
Cougar Ridge Trail is a descending only mountain bike trail, and is more difficult with optional harder sections. This trail contains technical terrain including drops, steep sections, cliff edges, and sharp corners. Currently closed but is nearing completion.

With the new routes, there are currently over 8 miles of new trails. These new trailheads will eventually total about 98 miles when finished.  The network of larger and smaller trails allows you to decide how long (or short) of a hike you would like to take!

Parking is free, and there is a restroom at the trailhead. Dogs are allowed, as long as they are on a leash. The WTA also provides bus service to the trailhead on the 512 line.

How to get there:

The trailhead access point is at 2537 Lake Louise Road. The Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve trails connect to the mountain bike trails on Galbraith Mountain via 4000 Road. Get out there and do some exploring in our own back yard!!

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Wage Increases Make Home Buying More Affordable

Wage Increases Make Home Buying More Affordable | MyKCM

Everyone knows that housing affordability has been negatively impacted by rising prices and increasing mortgage rates, but there is another piece to the affordability equation – wages.

How much a family earns obviously impacts how easy or difficult it is for them to afford to own a home. Because of an improving economy, wages are finally beginning to increase – and that dramatically affects home affordability.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) September 2018 Housing Affordability Index,wages have increased in every region of the country:

Wage Increases Make Home Buying More Affordable | MyKCM

After applying current salaries, home prices, and mortgage rates to their Home Affordability Index equation, the index, though still lower than this time last year (160.1 to 146.7), increased over the last month (141.2 to 146.7). For the complete methodology used by NAR, click here.

The percentage of income needed to own a home has also decreased each of the last three months. It currently sits at 17% which is substantially lower than historic numbers.

Wage Increases Make Home Buying More Affordable | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you are a first-time buyer or a move-up buyer who believes that purchasing a home is not within your budget, let’s get together to determine if that is still true.