Support WWU / Support Western's Engineering Proposal

Support Western’s Engineering Proposal

As many of you know, our son Graham recently graduated from WWU.  His degree is in Manufacturing Engineering Technology.  While WWU offers an Engineering Technology degree, they do not have a mandate from the State Legislature to offer a bachelor degree in Engineering.  There is a proposal on the table that would allow them to transition to full Engineering status.  This proposal would have huge benefits to WWU, it’s Graduates ie: your sons & daughters, the community & the State.

Support Western Washington University

Support Western Washington University

I just received this notice from TAG, Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington.  TAG informs, represents & connects Whatcom area technology businesses & professionals.

As a parent, business person & residence of Whatcom County, I would ask you to read this information & act on it.

On February 14, TAG posted a letter from Western Washington Universityannouncing their proposal to the legislature to transition Western’s Engineering Technology programs to full Engineering status.

You may be aware that business and industry leaders across the state have advocated for more college graduates with bachelor degrees in Engineering. Washington will demand 282,140 STEM jobs by 2018, requiring a 24 percent increase in training; 7 percent above the national average (and 3rd overall). Western Washington University represents the most cost‐effective way to help meet that need.  Whatcom County already has a need for more engineers, and our need is growing.

Governor Gregoire included $7.6 million in her 2012 State Supplemental Budget to be divided between the University of Washington and Washington State University to address this concern. Western Washington University was not included in the Governor’s budget, but the legislature could choose to include funding for Western in its budget.

Western would add an additional 85 to 100 Engineering graduates to the state total every year if the upgrade is made to move these three programs from Engineering Technology to industry-ready Engineering Degree status.

You can help make a difference.  Send your letter of support today and make your voice heard.  You can use the talking points that Western provided to make letter-writing easy.  Then visit their Action Page where you can enter your address and quickly email your letter to all relevant representatives in just a few clicks.

It’s that easy!

But please, act quickly.  The vote could happen as soon as this weekend.  There’s no time to waste, simply:

1. Visit the talking points page to craft your letter: http://tagnw.org/Resources/Documents/2012-02%20Engineering%20Letter%20Talking%20Points.pdf

2. Visit the Action Page to enter your address and send your letter to your representatives: http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8502/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8413

 

 

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Bellingham and Whatcom County Area and Emergency Contacts

Bellingham Emergency ContactsIt always seems when you really need to a phone number it’s  hard to find. Below is a list we compiled to try and help you manage any emergency you might have while in Bellingham or Whatcom County.  To print these numbers to keep on hand click here.  Remember in the case of extreme emergency always call 911!

Whatcom County Sheriff Department     (360) 676-6650

Whatcom County Emergency Management    (360) 676-6681

Bellingham Police Department      (360) 676-6920

Bellingham Fire Department (360) 778-8400

Bellingham City Hall (360) 778-8000

St. Joseph Hospital (360) 734-5400

Ferndale Police Department (360) 384-3390

Ferndale City Hall (360) 384-4302

Ferndale Fire Department (360) 384-0303

Lynden Police Department (360) 354-2828

Lynden City Hall (360) 354-1170

Lynden Fire Department (360) 354-4400

National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222

National Substance Abuse Hotline 1-800-662-4357

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453

 

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Lynden Lights Parade December 3rd at 6pm

Lynden Lighted ParadeCome out to Lynden this Saturday and view one of Whatcom County’s greatest holiday celebrations the 20th annual Lynden Lighted Parade. The parade starts at 6pm. The processional begings at Lynden’s Fairway Center and travels along Front St through downtown Lynden.
The Parade is made up of lighted parade floats, semi trucks, tractors and other farm equipment and is fun for the whole family. 
 
For additional information on the parade and other Lynden events feel free to visit the City of Lynden Website
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Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Update

A Mixed Bag

If you drop a dozen ping-pong balls on a somewhat rough surface, what happens?  In my experience, they go every which way, none of which are predictable.  It is somewhat like the real estate market right now…some areas are up, some are down, some are up one month and down the next.  Trying to make some sense out of it month by month can be really frustrating.

Let’s start this report by looking at who went up and who went down, but then we’re going to talk about trendlines

Bellingham’s September home sales were up strongly from last year in terms of number of homes sold, but the prices dropped – 14% for the average and 12.5% in the median – and that tended to be the pattern throughout most of the county.  Only Lynden saw the number of sales drop, but they came off an incredible increase in August.  Birch Bay/Blaine was the only area where average and median prices were higher than a year ago – by about 7.8%.  Over all, September had the 3rd highest number of home sales in Whatcom County so far in 2011.

As the table below demonstrates, the distribution of sales across price ranges in Bellingham continued to stay heavy on the lower end.  In fact, nearly all the additional sales over last year were below $300,000. This, in itself, pulls down both the average and the median prices.

 

Bellingham Sales Distribution

To learn more about what is happening in the Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Markets visit and read the complete article complete with graphs visit the Bellingham Real Estate Update Page.

For ongoing real estate numbers and details on all the Whatcom County market areas, go to www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com. We update the site weekly with everything from interest rates to market conditions to information from Fannie Mae, the FED and the FDIC. Also, feel free to call us at (360) 303-2734 or e-mail Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com if you want to know more about a specific portion of the market – we track a lot more than we have space to report.

If your neighborhood would like a presentation or a link to your website of up-to-date information on real estate in the neighborhood, we can provide it – just give us a call.

            www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.

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Tennant Lake Interpretive Center Ferndale

Tennant Lake Interpretive Center Ferndale WA

If you are looking for a great place to spend an afternoon, time spent at the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center will be time not soon forgotten.

Tennant Lake Fragrance Garden

Tennant Lake Fragrance Garden

The site includes:

  • Tennant Lake which is a birders paradise
  • Elevated boardwalk from which you can explore the marshes
  • 50′ tower that, from the top, you get a 360 degree bird’s eye view of Whatcom County & beyond
  • Fragrance garden that is full of exotic smells
  • An interpretive center
The Fragrance Garden at Tennant Lake

The Fragrance Garden at Tennant Lake

All and all it’s a place where time has no meaning and before you know it, the sun will begin to set & you’ll wonder what happened to the day.

Enjoy your tour through Tennant lake, the Fragrance Garden, the 50′ Tower and The Interpretive Center.

When Will the Real Estate Market Be Normal Again?

First, let’s set the context.  During the 1990’s about 2600 homes sold in Whatcom County every year.  At the beginning of that decade the average price was $109,351 and the median was $86,350.  By 2000, average prices were up to $167,038 and the median was $144,500.  In 2000, 2911 homes were sold, rising to 4454 in 2004 and dropping to 2204 in 2009.  The average price countywide peaked in 2007 at $340,448 with a median of $290,725.  The charts that follows give a visual look at the change.

  Whatcom County Real Estate SalesBellingham Real Estate Prices

The number of sales in Bellingham peaked in 2004 at 1425 homes and was around 800 in 2010. Sale prices peaked in 2007, averaging $375,000 with a median of $315,000.  Last year Bellingham homes sold at an average price of $334,301 and a median of $277,500. 

While prices have certainly been affected by the recession, unit sales have been hit much harder.  This trend seems to be continuing, with 1st quarter Whatcom County sales down 21% from 2010, but median prices up 2.3% and the average dropping just 1.5%.  Bellingham 1st quarter sales were up 2.7%, with the median up 8.7% and the average up 3.5%.  And remember, these numbers are against the period when first time homebuyers were being given a tax credit of $8000 and repeat homebuyers could claim $6500.

The market has definitely become more “normal” in terms of the distribution of sales.  More sales have moved into the mid-range as opposed to the lower end.  At the same time, the upper end has returned to a more typical percentage of the market than it was several years ago.

Short sales and bank owned properties continue to make up about 20% of the sales in Bellingham, while they formed 14% of homes actively on the market and 35% of those under contract to sell at the end of March.  They do not seem to be having a particularly negative effect on sale prices.

 Inventory levels are lower than they have been since March of 2006.  The number of homes under contract but not yet closed is remaining consistent with numbers seen in March since 2008. 

So what does all this mean?

As we go into what is typically the most active real estate sales time of the year, these numbers bode well for sellers and should be a bit of a red flag to buyers.  Choices are down and some sellers are getting a bit more stubborn.  More buyers seem to be looking for property.  We are seeing low offers negotiated into something approaching list price and great properties with multiple offers.  On the other hand, it is only the best properties that can demand the best prices – what an idea…that is true in any market!  

And that leads me back to the question with which we started, “When will the market be normal again?” My conclusion is that there is no “normal”…there is simply the market.  The basics of buying or selling in it are the same as they always have been.  The best properties sell for the best prices because they are the most attractive.  It was just that for a while we were all afraid we were going to miss the opportunity to buy anything, ever, so we would take whatever we could get and pay whatever it cost.  That market isn’t normal, it isn’t sustainable and hopefully it won’t come back. I think we are reaching equilibrium…and perhaps that is what normal is.

 For ongoing real estate numbers and details on all the Whatcom County market areas, go to www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com. We update the site weekly with everything from interest rates to market conditions to information from Fannie Mae, the FED and the FDIC. Also, feel free to call us at (360) 303-2734 or e-mail Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com if you want to know more about a specific portion of the market – we track a lot more than we have space to report. 

            www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.

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Lynden Spring Craft and Anitque Show- March 17th-19th

Lynden Craft and Antique ShowCome out to Lynden March 17-19th and visit the 25rd annual Spring Craft and Antique show. I have been the the craft and antique show personally for the past six years and have always enjoyed browsing the booths of local antique collectors and craft vendors. Many of the vendors are from right here in Whatcom County and are displaying their handcrafted home and garden themed decor, jewelry, artwork and gourmet food items. Lunch and lattes are also available in the Garden Cafe located in the building.

The show is located at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden. General admission is $5.00 for adults, $4 for seniors and children under 12 are freeand parking is free. Hours at 10am to 8pm Thursday and Friday. 10am to 5pm on Saturday.

If you have never been out to Lynden before, you are in for a treat. Lynden is a charming town that celebrates it’s Dutch history in both architecture and festivals.  It is also obvious that people take pride in their town and their homes- I don’t believe that I have ever seen an unkempt Lynden yard. To learn more about the city of Lynden and real estate oppurtunities avaible about visit The Johnson Team Real Estate’s Lynden Community and Real Estate Page.

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Bellingham Real Estate Update. So is the Market Up or Down?

Both.  Bellingham residential, single family sales numbers were up by 18.4% for the first 2 months of the years and Lynden matched its 2010 sales.  Whatcom County residential sales as a whole for the two month period dropped 38 units…down 17.3% from 2010 numbers.  Median sale prices were up 8.5% in Bellingham, although the average sale price dropped by 2.8%.  As a whole, average prices throughout the county dropped 2.7% and the median was down 1% from the first two months of 2010.

Considering that the first months of 2010 had the bonus from the Homebuyer tax credits, Bellingham did very well.  Why is the rest of the county struggling?  There are a number of possibilities:

– The most highly serviced areas are typically the most stable in price and demand.  In Whatcom County, that is Bellingham.

– The Homebuyer tax credit benefited lower priced home sales the most.  Since home prices in general tend to be less outside Bellingham, the county areas could be competing in 2011 against higher relative sales numbers in 2010.

– As shown in the table below, demand for homes in the $300,000 to $750,000 price range in Bellingham increased substantially in 2011, perhaps reflecting increased confidence among the population with steady jobs or more move-up buyers.  Anecdotally, we saw more out of area buyers for Bellingham property, and as a group they usually spend more for houses.

– Higher gasoline prices due to the uncertainty in the Middle East may also be keeping buyers closer to the primary service center in the County.

Bellingham Real Estate

So what does all this mean?  Bellingham sales numbers in January and February continued their gradual increase, and since Bellingham is the indicator for an upturn in the Whatcom County housing market, that could bode well for the entire county.  One bright spot throughout the county is that inventory levels are  lower in all areas than they were a year ago.  Typically they tend to rise quickly after the first of the year, but that has not happened in the first two months.  Pending sales, on the other hand, are rising.  Distressed sale percentages seem to be relatively stable at around 20% of the market in Bellingham. To learn why we are optimistic about the market and where we see the market heading visit the Bellingham Real Estate Update Page for January and February.

For ongoing real estate numbers, go to www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com. We update the site weekly with everything from interest rates to market conditions to information from Fannie Mae, the FED and the FDIC. Also, feel free to call us at (360) 303-2734 or e-mail Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com if you want to know more about a specific portion of the market – we track a lot more than we have space to report.

 If your neighborhood would like a presentation or a link to your website of up-to-date information on real estate in the neighborhood, we can provide it – just give us a call.  www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.

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Top Private Bellingham and Whatcom County Employers Based on Number

Bellingham Top EmployersBellingham and Whatcom County as a whole, is blessed with a very diverse economy. The  Bellingham Business Journal recently came out with their list of Whatcom County’s top private employers based upon number of employees. While these large companies are wonderful, Whatcom County’s economic strength is also based on a myriad of smaller businesses, many of whom sell their products far from our borders but have chosen to operate here due to the quality of life and quality of employees who live in Bellingham and around the smaller suburban and rural towns of Whatcom County. Watch later this week for the list of the top public sector employers in the county.

Below you will find a list of the top five private employers in Whatcom County based on number of employees. To view the full list of the top twenty five employers visit The Johnson Team Top Whatcom County Private Employers Page.

Peace Health – St. Joseph Medical Center
2901 Squalicum Parkway, Bellingham
(360) 734-54000
Number of Employees: 2,751
Peace Health operates seven hospitals throughout the Northwest including St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham as well as several other Peace Health medical primary medical and lab facilities.

BP Cherry Point Refinery
4519 Grandview Road, Blaine
(360) 371-1500
Number of Employees: 800
BP Cherry Point Refinery is location on Cherry Point just South of Blaine. The facility refines the chemical used to produce gasoline, diesel oil, jet fuel and calcined coke. The refinery processes 225,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Sodexo Inc.
516 High St, Eden’s Hall Suite 108, Bellingham
(360) 650-2970
Number of Employees: 726
Sodexo provides Western Washington University’s Dining Services and serves the Western Washington University campus with three resident dining halls, catering, concessions and ten retail cafés and markets.

Heath Techna
3225 Woburn St, Bellingham
(360) 738-2500
Number of Employees: 610
Heath Tecna is an aircraft interior solutions company and employs staff with diverse disciplines. They employ individuals in the areas of engineering, planning, purchasing, sales and marketing, production and administration.

Fred Meyer Grocery
Lakeway Drive and West Bakerview Rd, Bellingham
(360) 671-1112 and (360) 738-2900
Number of Employees: 578
Fred Meyer is a multi-department store featuring a wide variety of groceries, produces, meats, electronics, jewelery, clothing and household items. Fred Meyer in Bellingham also offers fuel stations and a full service deli.

For the full list of the 25 largest employers in Bellingham and Whatcom Count visit the Johnson Team Top Private Employers Page.  If you are looking to transfer jobs to the Bellingham area  The Johnson Team specializes in helping to make a job relocation easy. To search for real estate in the Bellingham area visit www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

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Bellingham Real Estate 2010 Year End Real Estate Update

It has been an interesting year. They told us the recession was officially over, but our real estate market continued to struggle. The sales numbers at the first of the year reflected the timing of the tax credit extensions, spiking when the deadline was extended and dropping precipitously when the credits ended. The influence of the tax credits made it difficult to judge the health of the real market. While the number of sales in the last quarter of 2010 continued to drop relative to sales in that period of 2009, the lack of a tax credit at that point in 2010 had an impact.

Then in October, there was an interesting change: overall sales were down from 2009, but up from 2008. In November, they were up still more, and in December they dropped back a bit, but remained above 2008 by 16% in Whatcom County as a whole and almost 27% in Bellingham. These were the first consistent, non-manipulated sales increases in several years. While average and median prices were still down from 2008 levels, in Bellingham 4th quarter average sale prices were up 5.6% and the median dropped just 0.2%.

Bellingham Real Estate Sales
So what does all this mean? Sales numbers tell us what has happened – and if these continue over the next months, we will know that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a train.  The market will bottom out and will improve.  To see if improvement is likely, and the form it may take, we need to look at interest rates, inventory and pending numbers

To read the complete article and  learn more about real estate interest rates, pending sales and inventory visit the 2010 Bellingham Real Estate Wrap Up Page on our website.

 

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