Paul's Bellingham Blog

My thoughts on Bellingham, the Real Estate market, and more

Bellingham and Whatcom County foreclosure rate less than 1/3rd National Average

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Whatcom County residents in some stage of foreclosure was 0.86% in April. That’s below Washington’s rate of 1.3%, and well below the U.S. rate of 3.2%. So Washington Real Estate, and Whatcom County specifically, is looking a lot more stable than the national average.

A main reason Bellingham amd Whatcom County homes have a much lower foreclosure rate, is because in our area, we did not have nearly as many fancy subprime loans that became really popular in states like Nevada and California. Also, values have not dropped as much as they have in many areas of the country… So many homeowners who have been unable to make there payments have been able to sell and still get out with a little bit of equity, or through a shortsale.

Interesting Facts about First Time Home Buyers

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According to the National Association of Realtors, 49% of first time home buyers are married couples. 25% are comprised of single females and just 12% are single males. That is impressive that single females are entering into homeownership at twice the rate as the males, and I have to say that I have noticed the same trend in my local Real Estate market in Bellingham, WA.

Also, more than half -53%- are between the ages of 24 and 34, and 12% are younger than 24.
First time home buyers are also becoming more diverse. 22% are of a minority group, compared to just 13% of repeat buyers.

Shipping Container Home?

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Have you ever thought about living in a container? Shipping Containers

Yes, I’m talking about LIVING in a shipping container! I just read about a company called 3twenty Solutions, that is working on making this a reality.  It looks to be the latest niche market in Green Building solutions.

I have a friend in Bellingham who works for a storage company, and she had mentioned to me previously that many large portable storage manufactures are on to the same concept. Many portable storage containers have plumbing, heating, windows, and have been customized for recreational and full-time living. Now I just read about a company called 3Twenty Solution, are onto something much more ambitious, using strictlyrecycled shipping containers to start construction.  

Below, you can see a before and after..

Before ContainerFinished Container

Their award-winning business concept of recycling and renovating shipping containers for constructing office space, sleeping quarters, and housing units has been taking heed from a number of industries and property seekers, especially on the east coast. In New Jersey, a new office building is being constructed from shipping containers right now.

Currently, their is more than 700,000 of these idle containers in the U.S.  This is a great way to recycle these existing structures, which are built from solid steel, and use them to create just about any type of space. The best part is the  containers are all built with the same dimensions. Making it easy to design and create functional spaces. No need for custom measuring and designing.

It will be interesting to see if this concept makes it’s way into Bellingham or Whatcom County construction. I’d love to see it 🙂 

Until then, you can search for Bellingham homes for sale at my website, www.PaulBalzotti.com.

Motivated and Hungry Realtors

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I am listening to a motivational CD set right now, recorded from a 3 day Real Estate conference with top agents telling their “secrets to success”. One of the speakers talks about how one of the best reasons you want to stay consistent in your sales and income, is it allows you to provide better service and more honest advice to your clients. He said the reason for this, is that when you have money in the bank, you can give them the best and most un-bias advice. When your “hungry”, he says, it’s simply human nature to be somewhat bias and possibly pushy in your handling and advice with your prospects and clients. As an example (using his theory), if someone is considering renting, or selling their home, the hungry agent would be much more likely to insist that it is an excellent idea to sell, and not rent, when in fact, the best thing for that client may be to advice renting at that time.

I had a hard time with this when I first heard it. It made sense, but it also rang loudly in my head as a misnomer, and just way too overly simplistic of an assumption to make about Realtors. Am I really going to start giving people bad advice (on the biggest decision of their life) because I haven’t had a closing in a month? For me, and I think most Realtors who are experienced professionals, you would just never operate that way.

A good Realtor is really not a salesman, or atleast  should not consider him or herself one. You want to be considered a trusted advisor and consultant, who always (even if the person is not buying or selling right now), gives thoughtful and honest advice regarding Real Estate. Most good Realtors realize that focusing on the quickest way to make a commission, is the surest way to have a short career in Real Estate.  The way to stay productive is to always be serving everyone with your very best input and energy, “hungry” or not. That is how you build a business with  repeat and referrals

 So when this Real Estate “Expert” spoke about this, to me it felt degrading in many ways, and I think it spoke to the type of agents who create a bad  reputation for the industry. It’s just a different paradigm. When good agent’s are “hungry” for a sale, they don’t change their advice to clients, they just get focused on how to be more productive. They do more lead generating activities, and perhaps focus extra attention on their best priced listings that are priced-to-sell, or start working even harder to find the needle-in-the-haystack home for one of their pickier buyers.  

If an agent is productive right now, it does matter. But only because it shows they know how to be productive in their business in this current Real Estate market. Also, this gives them better knowledge of the current inventory and the current market trends.

So bottom line is, if I am looking for a Realtor to refer to my Grandcr0075ldmother in Utah (as an example), I would not be concerned with how many deals they’ve done in the last 2 months. If the agent is capable of being pushy in anyway to my Grandma, hungry or not, I did a terrible job picking a Realtor.

The Mini-Van

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When Andrea and I went on our honeymoon, we rented a Mustang convertible.

3 and 1/2 years later on our first vacation with the baby, we rented the Chrysler Town and Country.

This is symbolic of how my life has changed! For the record though, the mini-van was actually a nice ride. Plenty of space, comfortable seating, and great gas mileage….But no, I will never buy one 🙂

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Energy Efficiency Rebate Expires at end of year

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With 50 mile per hour winds hitting my house last night,  it reminded me to look into energy efficiency for my house for the winter. I noticed that the Obama tax credits for home improvements are set to expire at the end of 2009!

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If you’ve been considering replacing windows, adding insulation, or upgrading your heating system, these tax credits are good for up to $1,500 per project. More information can be found here. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index