Vacancy Rates at Historic Lows. Looking to Invest? Now is the Time!

The Bellingham and Whatcom County rental vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% for the past 5 years. Owning a rental in our area is an incredible investment. The Bellingham and Whatcom County real estate market has many options for those looking to make a real estate investments from large commercial sites to apartment buildings and small rentals homes, there is something to fit your every need.

J Team Vacancy Rate

From large condominiums complexes in Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven District to modest townhouses and apartment click here to search for multi family real estate in Bellingham and around Whatcom County. Bellingham is home to Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College making rentals highly sought after in the city.

Bellingham Single Family Investment and Rental Real Estate

Bellingham and Whatcom County is home to many college students and business executives seeking rental housing. Take advantage of a great real estate market and low interest rates and invest in a rental home. Search from our list to see what the Bellingham Real Estate market has to offer


Want to stay informed on the latest investment properties to hit the market? Sign up for our Homes by Email service to be alerted via email as new properties become available!

For more information on investment real estate in Bellingham or Whatcom County feel free to call us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at, we’d be happy to help!

Bellingham Real Estate Market Update & Happenings!

Market Snap Shot Jan 18

As we look into our real estate crystal ball, the question always is “so where have we been & where are we going?”

The “where have we been part” is pretty simple as it’s already logged into the history books. Closed Bellingham residential sales for 2017 were 1042 homes as opposed to 1145 homes in 2016. The median sales price for a home in Bellingham in 2016 was $363,465 as opposed to $393,249 in 2017. We are started the year off with approximately 111 active listings with an additional 79 homes pending as opposed to 193 active listings a year ago with, at that time, 86 pending listings.

So with that in the rear view mirror, what does the road ahead look like & what are some of the chuck holes in the way that could throw a monkey wrench in things?

First, we have a new Tax Code.  As it was initially stated, it had all of the real estate pundits up in arms, but as it went through the Congressional “Grinder” it was trimmed down to the point where it may not have the negative impact people initially felt.  Now in the interest of full disclosure, even though I graduated fairly high in my class at the U of W (sorry Cougar fans), accounting was not necessarily my bailiwick.  Even if it was, I’d ask you to consult with your personal accountant or financial planner to see how it impacts you personally.

So “Where are we headed in 2018”? 

A local lender posts a current 30 year fixed rate of 4.125%.  All indications are that rates will increase in 2018 with Freddie Mac projections to 4.6 in the 4th quarter of 2018.

Population data indicates that between 2010 and 2016, Whatcom County has seen a significant increase of people in their 60s and 70s. During the same time there’s been a decrease in the number of people in their 20s and 40s

A recent article in the Bellingham Herald quoted Zillow Economists as predicting a 3.1% increase in Bellingham home prices over the next 12 months, saying that the hottest neighborhoods ie: Lettered Streets, will have a 12 month increase of 4%, the York District an increase of 3.8% & the Columbia District of 3.7%.

As of today’s date, there are 87 residential homes pending in Bellingham.  Of this number, 34 pended within 5 days or less of the list date.  While we won’t know until the homes close, my guess is that with the quick pending dates, the probability is that the homes sold in excess of their list prices.  In the past 30 days, 69 residential homes sold.  Of that number, 27 sold either at or greater than their list price.

With that ground work, from what I hear on the streets, in my open houses & see statistically, I think, in Bellingham,

  • Inventory will remain at historically low levels.


  • While rising interest rates will make it more difficult for entry level buyers to find homes, it will have less or no effect on an older population that appears to be moving into the area & many times buying without the need of a home loan.


  • As climate change affects other parts of the US, our weather & lifestyle in the Pacific North West will be more appealing to others, causing them to move in increasing numbers.


  • Demand for Bellingham real estate will continue to outstrip supply resulting in increased prices. Quite frankly, I think the increases we experience will outstrip those projected by Zillow’s forecasters

In a nut shell, prepare for more of the same from our fast & furious real estate market.

If you have questions about the market in general or about your property specifically, Mike, Fawn & I would be happy to help you any way that we can.


Get the Facts on the Bellingham Real Estate Market!

As I talk to people about real estate, I am increasingly told they feel things are cooling off.  When I ask why, the common replies are the frequency of price reduction signs, flipped sales, increased market times & listings going beyond the “offer review date”.  To get a better perspective of the “State of the Market”, let’s take a look at the following statistics for our local market.


Whatcom County has a 2.83 month supply of inventory.  Remember that a healthy real estate market has 4 to 6 months.  There are currently a total of 910 active residential & condos listings.

The average sale price of single family and condo sales closed in Whatcom County has increased almost $16,000 with the median price increasing $44,900 over the past 12 months A local lender’s interest rate as of 10.19.2017 for a 30 year fixed rate loan with 5% down is 3.875%. That same loan with the same lender was 3.75% 8.03.2017.  Rates are expected to rise in the coming months to more than 4%.

So let’s drill down further to see some specifics:

-A 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 1576 sq ft fixer built in 1900  on Jaeger St just closed with a full price offer @ $375,000.  It was such a fixer the agent didn’t even include interior photos of the home in the listing.

-Today there are 18 homes / condos that have pended after 5 or less days on the market.  The average market time for all pendings is 35 days. In the last 30 days, there have been 28 homes / condos in Bellingham that have closed within 5 days or less of the home being listed.  Of the 106 homes / condos that sold in Bellingham over the past 30 days, 29 sold in excess of their list price & 16 sold at the list price

-I recently talked to an agent who told me she has written offers recently for 5 different buyers & lost out on all five because there were multiple offers.

So to bring this all together:

There are certainly homes that languish on the market – there always has been & always will be.

Inventory is short to the extreme with no end in sight

Prices will continue to rise.  There is no reason to believe, in my opinion, that demand will slack off.  In fact as the Seattle market continues to heat up, buyers will be forced to look up & down the I-5 corridor to find affordable housing.  I just sold a home to a 1st time buyer in Ferndale.  He commutes to Seattle every day to work.  We will see more of that.

Interest rates are still good  but are increasing.

Here’s a great visual to break down inventory numbers over the past several years:

Market Snap Shot Oct. 17

If you or your friends have questions about real estate, Mike & I would be happy to help.  As many of you know, we have been licensed for years, are committed to helping our clients make good decisions & are not afraid to put in our time – we usually are the 1st ones at the office & the last ones to leave. If that’s the kind of commitment you want for yourselves or want to refer to your friends, please pass our names on.  We are the guys that turn the lights on in the morning & off in the evening.


Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING! | MyKCM

There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate. (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents. In other words, bargain lookers might shop FSBOs more often.
  • Experienced agents are experts at staging homes for sale which could bring more money for the home.
  • Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool. If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money. If you have any questions or need any assistance, give us a call at (888) 713 – 3056 or email us at

What’s Your Whatcom Falls Neighborhood Home Worth?

Curious what your Whatcom Falls Neighborhood is worth in today’s real estate market?

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Whatcom Falls Neighborhood

Don’t already live in the Whatcom Falls Neighborhood, but interested in learning more about it?

This neighborhood is home to Whatcom Falls Park, what is considered by most as the best green space available in Bellinghamo. The park is this neighborhood’s main resident occupying the northern third of the neighborhood. It is home to miles of walking and biking trails, a playground, tennis courts and a fish hatchery. Whatcom Creek cuts through the park, offering a special swimming hole for area locals.

The residential portion of this neighborhood is comprised of sidewalk lined streets with modest to large sized homes, clean lawns and gardens. Whatcom Falls boasts some of the lowest density housing in the city. If in the area don’t forget to check out the local ice cream and donut shop Lafeen’s located across from the park in the neighborhood’s only commercial zone.

Interested in living in Bellingham’s Whatcom Falls Neighborhood?

Click the neighborhood map below to search for homes.

For more specific real estate questions feel free to call us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at today!

Bellingham Real Estate Market Report

Market Snap Shot

Brokers & owners of some larger Seattle brokerages are using the terms “Typical Summer Slowdown”, “Some Cooling Off in the Luxury Market”, “Prices may be Plateauing”, “Pace of Sales is Slowing & the number of multiple offers is moderating”.

Now it’s true that what happens in Seattle usually filters down to us in Whatcom County, but what I am seeing & hearing on the ground here in Bellingham is that our market is still on steroids.  The reason for that is pretty clear. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see a picture of historically low inventory.  Added to this, are

  • Low interest rates (as of 7.7.2017, Peoples Bank is quoting a 5% down 30 year fixed rate at 3.875%)
  • While there clearly is Buyer fatigue (buyers who have written multi offers only to be beaten out by another stronger offer & are getting worn out & discouraged), there is still strong demand on the buying side. In looking at pending Bellingham residential sales today, there are a total of 147 homes that are pending.  Of these pending sales, 68 pended within the 1st 7 days of the listing.
  • The more telling thing that the above figures do not show is Buyer intensity. As of today’s date (7.28.2017) if you dig a bit deeper into the “Sold Market”, you see that in Bellingham residential sales there were 115 homes that sold in the past 30 days. Of these sales, 65 of the 115 pended in the 1st 7 days (56%).  Of the 115 that closed, 59 homes sold in excess of the list price.

So what will it take to change this dynamic?

  • A significant uptick in interest rates would certainly slow thing down.
  • A significant increase in inventory would lead to more supply / choices. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, the availability of buildable land in Bellingham is extremely limited.  With a few exceptions, most new homes are being built north of town in the Cordata area.  This certainly is not enough to have a major impact on the overall market.
  • New inventory could be made available by current sellers either scaling up or scaling down – the problem is, of course, where do they move.

So if you are a buyer, I would strongly recommend that you have your financing locked in.  Pre approval no longer passes muster.  You need to approach a seller with a pre underwritten loan & even then you may be up against a competitor who has cash & does not need a loan.  Most importantly, a buyer needs to act DECISIVELY, must keep POSITIVE in a difficult environment & not lose sight of their GOAL.

If you are a seller, you need to realize that even in this market, there are homes that do not sell.  A home needs to be properly priced, well presented to the market & in condition which is acceptable to the market.

If you have questions or if your friends & family have questions about the market in general or about their home or needs specifically, we would be happy to meet with you.  Collectively, we (The Johnson Team) has in excess of 100 years of real estate experience in Bellingham & Whatcom County.  While we certainly don’t claim to know it all, we do claim to care enough about you & your friends & family to give you the best advice possible to enable you to make the best decisions possible.

Curious how the market conditions are impacting your home’s value?

Enter your address below for a FREE and INSTANT home value report!

Bellingham Home Worth

Learn Home Values Around Lake Whatcom

Do you own a home on Lake Whatcom?

Curious how the active real estate market is impacting your home’s value?

Enter your address below for a FREE and INSTANT home value report!

Lake Whatcom Home Values

Don’t currently live on Lake Whatcom, but curious about learning more about the area?

Click the map to search for homes around Lake Whatcom in Bellingham.

Lake Whatcom Map

Lake Whatcom is a true Bellingham gem! Real Estate here is highly desired for the area’s natural beauty and freshwater recreational delights.

Lake Whatcom runs from the eastern edge of Bellingham in the Silver Beach Neighborhood on through Geneva, Sudden Valley, South Bay and into the foothills. Many lake front communities are located along the lake, including Delesta Park, Strawberry Point and Agate Bay. Each of these desirable neighborhoods offer housing options that appeal to a variety of budgets and real estate needs.

Lake Whatcom also serves as Bellingham’s water reservoir and is protected through watershed limitations and restrictions. Despite stringent protections, motorized watersports such as boating and jet skiing are allowed. The lake is also a great place for canoeing, kayaking, and sailing.

To learn more about Bellingham’s beautiful Lake Whatcom call us today at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at, we are here to help!


Learn the Value of Your Cordata Neighborhood Home

Curious how the active market is impacting the value of your Cordata Neighborhood Home?

Enter your address below for a FREE and INSTANT, no obligation home value report.

Cordato Neighborhood


If you don’t currently own a home in the Cordata Neighborhood, but are interested in learning more about the neighborhood visit our website today!

Located in the northeastern corner of Bellingham is one of the newest and most popular neighborhoods, the Cordata Neighborhood. Home to many newer homes including condos, large family homes, apartments and senior communities in addition to many services. The neighborhood is home to Whatcom Community College, Cordata Shopping Center, Peace Health Medical Facilities and more making it a prime location for residents wanting to live close to services.


Your Tax Return: Bring it Home

Your Tax Return: Bring it Home | MyKCM

This time of year, many people eagerly check their mailboxes looking for their tax return check from the IRS. But, what do most people plan to do with the money? GO Banking Rates recently surveyed Americans and asked the question – “What do you plan on doing with your tax refund?”

The results of the survey were interesting. Here is what they plan to do with their money:

  • 41% – Put it into savings
  • 38% – Pay off debt
  • 11% – Go on a vacation
  • 5% – Make a major purchase (car, home, etc.)
  • 5% – Splurge on a purchase

Upon seeing the research, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) wondered if this could help with a constant challenge cited by many people who wish to purchase a home – saving for the down payment.

In a recent post in NAR’s Economists’ Outlook Blog, they explained:

“With a sizable tax refund, the average American would have a decent down payment depending on which region or market you live in.”

They went on to add:

“[A]pproximately 5 percent of all respondents indicated they would make a major purchase which does not seem like a lot. However, there is a bigger group 41 percent who see saving the tax return is best and that group could be potential homebuyers if they are not already.”

In other words, putting that money toward purchasing a home is a form of savings.

Bottom Line

When one considers that first-time home buyers in 2016 had an average down payment of 6%, a decent tax return could go a long way toward the necessary funds needed for a down payment on a house. Or perhaps, the down payment needed by a son or daughter to make their homeownership dream a reality. How are you going to spend your return? If you are thinking of putting it towards real estate Johnson Team Real Estate is here to help! Call us today at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at .

Thinking of Selling? Now Is The Time To Act

Thinking of Selling? Now Is the Time to Act | MyKCM

If you thought about selling your house this year, now may be the time to do it. The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at, revealed in a recent article that:

“The biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract. That’s because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger.”

Smoke goes on to say:

“We started the year with the lowest inventory of homes available for sale that we’ve ever seen on While we did see inventory grow 2% in February, total inventory was down 11% over last year.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas. Give us a call at (360) 303-2734 or email is at