How to Sell a Real Estate House


It’s no secret that the current real estate market in Bellingham is a friendly one to sellers. With mobs of ready, able & willing buyers practically going door-to-door, all sellers need to do is ink a listing agreement and blow town for a couple of days. Upon their tanned & rested return, their Realtor arrives with a stack of offers to review, submitted in their absence. PENDING!

Or not. It isn’t exactly April 2017 anymore, after all. The jets have cooled considerably from the Hysterical Spring to the point where the current market almost resembles one that is if not fair then at least not a mass ripoff.  There are still more buyers than there is inventory to satisfy, and prices certainly haven’t come down. But it’s not the melee it was earlier this year.

And that is generally a good thing (said the Realtor). Having a wagered frontyard fistfight over every listing that comes on the market wears buyers down and makes everyone feel gross– sometimes even the seller who presumably benefits from the competition. Still– no one wants to be the last leaf on the tree. Autumn is upon us. Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and you know what happens after that. The bar is closing. Last call…

So what does the seller who’s been overlooked do– leaning into the holidays? How does one sell the house that buyers– even in a seller’s market– have passed on?

The answer is simple: voodoo! 

Some might call it Christianity, and indeed our hero does also appear in popular Christian science fiction literature. But make no mistake– this is Real Estate Sorcery of the highest order. Of course I am talking about the hardest working statue in the real estate business– Saint Joseph the Homeseller!

Joeseph is the Patron Saint of home improvement. He was also Jesus Christ’s stepdad– the standup guy who schlepped his unfaithful wife Mary and the infant Jesus between Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth even though he wasn’t the father. That’s kind of another story, but the point is that the family had to move a lot– and thus Joe had a lot of experience selling houses.

Leveraging a hardmagic 4″ plastic figurine (made in China) to help attract a buyer to your listing has never been simpler. Here are eight simple steps to a commission check. Let’s bring him out!




This should be easy. If you have a Christian Superstore Outlet in your town, they will probably stock them. Sometimes these stores will place a limit on how many Saint Joseph the Homeseller kits a customer can buy in one day. If you have some listings piling up, you may want to draft some neighborhood kids to go in and buy for you. Kids will usually provide this service if you score them alcohol later. (editor’s note: DO NOT drink with neighborhood kids. It’s OK to buy them beer, just don’t drink it with them..)



Opinions vary on where exactly you should bury Saint Joseph the Homeseller. Some say he should go near the front door; others say near the FOR SALE sign; still others recommend the place on the property with the best view (if applicable). Clearly, the precise location is open to some interpretation, but it is universally recommended not to bury Saint Joseph the Homeseller near the septic drainfield…




Don’t worry if you don’t have an old red towel in your trunk. Any old towel from your trunk will do. Saints like red and they look good in it– but a floral or striped towel is just as good and even a solid-colored towel will do in a pinch. We’re trying to make a real estate transaction here– be creative. A tissue from the glovebox or sock from the backseat will do if necessary. But please have a little respect– this is a Saint we’re talking about, after all…



My personal take on this is that the old towel should suffice for two reasons. Firstly, Saint Joseph the Homeseller is so potent he’s not going to be in the ground long before the house is under contract. Secondly, I despise plastic bags. But I didn’t invent the rules, and all versions seem to indicate it’s important to protect Saint Joseph the Homeseller from whatever it is that lives in the dirt–so just get a bag and put him in there. You probably have one of those in your car, too– unfortunately…



There are lots of varying opinions on this step, too: feet down facing out; feet up facing home; feet up facing view, etc. My advice is to make up your mind as to what position you think is right and then confidently justify it. In a raised voice, say something like “the moths have no wings” or “We Know About This” and just act like you know what you’re doing. Hopefully there’s no one around to hear you, but if your seller is hovering nervously nearby, wringing her hands, just give her that million-dollar wink scoop up a trowel’s worth of soil.



This may be the most-difficult part of the process for agents who are behind on their car insurance payments or who may recently have lost a pet. It needn’t be. Realtors need dough like anyone– and if burying an action figure in the front yard is going to appease our sellers, I say let’s start digging. I never knew Saint Joseph the Homeseller, but I have a feeling– considering his roots– that his HGTV show would widely-viewed and that he wouldn’t mind a little vivisepulture humor.



This step may prove to come easier to some agents than others, also. If you’re rusty or just plain agnostic, there is a stock prayer on the box that ought to do the trick:

Dear Saint Joseph, God the Father chose you from all men to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. You cared thoughtfully and wholeheartedly for them while on Earth. It was through you that Jesus first learned of His Heavenly Father’s gentleness, compassion, and protection. So close were you that He was known simply as the Carpenter’s son. 

We now ask your help in these our requests. Please intercede before our Heavenly Father for His protection, provision and peace. Help us sell our home and find a new one, suitable for our needs. 

Grant us harmony and grace on our home, and we may be ever hospitable to family, friends and neighbors. Amen. 



The importance of this step of course cannot be overstated. No matter what market you are in, price heals all ills. Odors? Functional Obsolescence? Ratty neighbors? Get the pricing in-line and step back and watch the miracles fly. Throw away those crutches. You can walk.  Oh, Thank you Saint Joseph the Price Reducer– thank you




Thoroughly refreshed Samish Ridge rambler has pleasing Bay view and wonderfully private setting. With 3 true bedrooms and 2 full baths all on one level, this is a very usable home. All new paint inside and brand new stainless steel appliances in the efficient kitchen. Thoughtfully planted gardens in front & back provide lush privacy and feature secret trail network and contemplation station with lovely sunset views. Two-car attached garage, easy I5 access and mouthwatering Southside Bellingham schools.

   Built 1994                                                              1101 sqft and 12k+ sqft lot                                  walk-in closets and pantry                              great Bay view corridor                                      NO stairs!                                                                Southside schools                                              Vaulted ceilings                                                  Brand new appliances                                        Fresh paint and trim                                          Private view porch                                            New price $379,900                 


For Sale Cheap

“Sellers sell houses,” I tell my buyers (in the kitchen when possible). “But buyers buy homes.”

Neither statement is exclusively true or untrue, of course. But there is a difference between a house and a home—a wholly emotional one. Both buildings have front doors, a roof, a bathroom and the afore-mentioned kitchen. Some have bowling alleys and wine cellars, but not most.

In fact, houses with indoor shooting ranges and heliports are generally viewed as less inviting than those without. It doesn’t make them bad. Just not as homey.

Tom Waits sang “… if there’s love in a house, it’s a palace for sure.”  And it’s true. Even if a place is stone vacant. If you Continue reading

Deep in the heart of Columbia

Orange-faced, baggy-suited baboons notwithstanding, it’s true that most people on Earth secretly or otherwise want to live in the United States. True also, that all Americans would prefer to live on the West Coast. Well-documented that everyone on the West Coast wishes to come in Bellingham. And we all know that everyone in Bellingham wants to live in Columbia.

So that means that everyone on the planet wants to live in Columbia.

They all can’t. There just isn’t the inventory…

Oh, we get it alright: The picturesque tree-lined streets. Melancholy Elizabeth Park with its Saturday Evening Post  brocade. The eclectic yet Continue reading

Nouvelle marque sur le marché !

Averses d’avril apportent des fleurs de mai–et nouvel inventaire !

Découvrez cette nouvellement cotées 3 lits 2-salle de baincontemporaine dans quartier familial idéal. Tout près le point de départpour le parc de Northridge, ce 1700sqft propre & ensoleillé maison asurprises à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur…

Mise à jour de cuisine a nouvelles surf-aces et appareils en acierinoxydable. Les chambres de l’étage ont voûtée plafonds et loftsconfortables pour lire ou faire la sieste. Chambre de maître de  niveauinférieur a sa propre terrasse privée pour le café du matin ou     unefumee tard dans la nuit.

Terrain entièrement clôturé a amplement d’espace Continue reading

Saltmarsh Harvest Mouse



Oh, shit– it’s March.

I should have known this would happen. It’s the same thing every year: New Year’s, recovery, resolution, resignation, Super Bowl, February– March!

I loathe March. Nothing good happens this month, ever. The weather in February is always interesting, and March always just sucks. “Spring” begins on the 20th, but we all know what that means or doesn’t mean. No legal holidays. No illegal holidays, unless you’re Irish. College basketball all over the place– GROSS!

I adore April, but it doesn’t start until four weeks from Saturday. I need Continue reading

Those Now Eating Will Soon Be Eaten


It’s true, what you’ve heard: Bellingham’s real estate market is sticky. And maybe no neighborhood’s door is harder to unlock than that of historic South Hill.

Tucked discreetly between heady Western Washington University at the top of the hill, and the too-dear shopping district of Fairhaven at the bottom, South Hill is picturesque in any season. With elm-lined lanes named after Continue reading

How to Get Balled in Bellingham

There are lots of different ways to organize real estate listings. Price is  a popular and practical measure, of course. But listings can also be grouped according to geography, size, age or even color. Blue houses over there; yellow houses here. That sort of thing.

My favorite way to order real estate houses this week, however, is alphabetically. Because then my new listing is #1, meaning all other listings are #2 or lower.

Introducing 2309 A Street… 


Voguing demurely at the top of A Street, adjacent to Cornwall Avenue and across from picturesque Assumption Church, this little honey has all the charm you’d hope to find intact in a house of its vintage. When this home was built in 1918, White City amusement park was still thrilling locals on the north shore, and the population of Bellingham was less Continue reading

When Everybody Wins



Just in time for the holidays, this happened. 

A Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurant in Bellingham, WA partnered with a local job placement service to re-assign and elevate a popular disabled neighborhood panhandler, creating a win-win-win situation for the ages. 

Joe Beadles made a decent supplemental living for years working the southeast corner of James and Alabama Streets in Bellingham’s up-and-coming Sunnyland neighborhood with a cardboard sign that read NO DRUGS. In October, thanks in part to the creativity of a forward-thinking caseworker, Joe was handed a W2 and issued a uniform and a foamcore arrow sign advertising Papa’s famous pizza dough (baked fresh daily). Joe’s territory hadn’t changed– but everything else had.

“Before Joe and I began applying to barker jobs, we looked for warehouse work for him,” said Isaac Folkerts, an Employment Specialist at Service Alternatives, a multi-faceted human services agency based in Whatcom County.  “I came across an ad for a different restaurant barker position. I talked to Joe about it and he agreed to apply. “ Continue reading

Sympathy for the Realtor


Blake and Teresa bought a house this summer– a darling little Craftsman in outer Birchwood with a Wolf range for him and a shop for her. And as happy as I am for them, I could not be more furious and disgusted. I’m also a little embarrassed to say this isn’t the first time this has happened.

To be clear, this is the first time these two have purchased a home. The part that’s happened before and which turns my guts is that they’re acquaintances of mine and they didn’t use me as their realtor.

Not that everyone has to. If you’ve lived in this little town more than about 20 minutes you probably know three real estate agents. If you bowl, drink, or have kids in school, that number is probably more than a dozen. There are 588 other agents in town besides me, and many of them are excellent. Continue reading

the Lord taketh away

I don’t know if I’m blessed or just lucky. 

Whichever it is, I’m stoked. Ecstatic even. I’m deeply grateful every day for my precious family and my durable body. I’m humbled to be able to live in this rare community in this ridiculously beautiful & progressive region. I have a killer job. I’m a white American middle class man with bitchin’ metabolism. Most days I don’t feel I’ve earned my position on the foodchain– but I accept it with gratitude just like I would accept a better parking spot than the one I probably deserve. What am I supposed to do? 

But are these “blessings” or just luck? 

I’ve said before that good luck is nothing more than the absence of bad luck. I have been exceedingly lucky my whole life to not ever have had an anvil fall on my head from a 3rd story window. Never got psoriasis. I’ve never spontaneously combusted or even been struck by lightening. The superstitious and the faithful among us have more in-common than they might think. What’s the difference?  Continue reading