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

oh, don’t worry about Max HE’S FINE


We have been humbled by the outpouring of support & compassion for Max since his potential homelessness was first reported here in January. The longterm security of the spherical black cat who’d lived on Ray & Kathy’s patio since long before they’d lived inside the house had been brought to question as job transfers forced the uprights’ relocation to a feline-free townhouse in lower Snohomish County. As the wicked, animal-hating new owner of the Alabama Hill rambler refused to accept responsibility for Max, we here at the Electric Kool Aid Real Estate leapt into relative action, and within hours, offerings were raining in from the four corners: caviare from France, vodka from Russia, and a case of those boxing Nun puppets from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself. Max was quite moved.

Well, he was moved emotionally, but not physically. The hard fact remained that no matter how many Polynesian coconut bras or Philly Cheesesteaks he raked in, what Max really needed was a home. And who’d have thought that the warmest & most sincere heart on the planet would open up just a mile away, in a neighborhood known as Roosevelt. A posting on the Neighborhood Power website netted an earnest reply from Charlie who already had a number of cats but who thought Max would fit right in. Whether “fit right in” meant the social dynamic was appropriate, or whether it simply meant “how would anyone even notice one more” is for history to decide. But the for time being, Max and the spoils of his fame– wooden clogs from Holland and a lifetime supply of Kalbi bbq pork from Korea– are safely installed at Charlie’s cozy home down the hill.

And with their load lightened by 18 lbs, Ray & Kathy– exhausted from packing like sellers often are– stood in front of their moving van for a half minute smiling for a snapshot while I shot video. They might still be standing there, I don’t know.

— tMdR


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 a tease (this year no exception) 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 Wednesday. I need to figure out a way to get through March… Continue reading

C’mon in, it’s open…

Come by and see me at my open house on Alabama Hill tomorrow and I’ll buy you a cookie. 

The news in Whatcom County is good and getting better. The holiday ceasefire was brief and the inventory we’ve been so parched for for so long is starting to break free. Prospective sellers who wished they’d sold before our peak in the spring of 2007 are recognizing they’ve gained back most of what they lost during the five-year downturn that ended at the beginning of 2013. Mortgage money is practically free. Unemployment remains low. Foreclosure filings continue to plummet. 

Happy Days are here again. 

large living room

This 3-bed 3-bath rambler two doors off the trails of 240-acre Whatcom Falls Park is a nice opportunity in a surging market. Built heartily in 1969 with real wood, this home has been carefully-maintained and judiciously-updated. New hardwood floors throughout most of the nearly 1800sqft are a great base for a buyer’s dream kitchen. The rooms are generous and the floorplan is much more interesting than the drab rambler plans that came a decade later. The parlor off the entry is a great place to read or do paperwork, anchored by a cozy gas fireplace. There are two potential dining areas flanking the galley kitchen, one of them contiguous to the large living room with a picture window overlooking the 10ksqft fenced lot. The full guest bath in the hall and the full master bath are both large, featuring new plumbing & lighting fixtures and flooring. 

Continue reading

Why I still root for white guys who wear number 12

Disclaimer– this blog post has almost nothing to do with Real Estate  




These Seattle Seahawks are hard to dislike. And I am a very experienced disliker of Seattle Seahawks.

I’ll explain.

My family drove into Washington State on the nation’s bicentennial– July 4, 1976– from my childhood home in the Bay Area. The Seahawks played their innagural game three weeks later, kicking off a hate affair that has lasted nearly forty years.
Before we left California, Uncle Larry held season tickets to the Raiders, and I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the early ’70s in the gritty bleachers of Oakland Alameda County Stadium rooting for one of the most colorful franchises in the history of organized sports. Raider football was my life, and even though they won the Super Bowl the year we moved to Federal Way, I loathed & distrusted my new home team nearly as much as I loved my old one.

The improvisational theater of Efren Herrara

The teams were instant rivals, of course, playing in the same division (most of) those first 25 seasons. And spectacularly awful as they were in those early days, the bumbling black-shoed Seahawks would often rise to supernatural stature when facing the Raiders, staging breathtaking upsets. Seattle won 4 of the first 5 meetings, in fact, against variations of the Raider squads that dominated Super Bowls XI and XV. Oakland (and later LA) managed only a 4-game advantage over Seattle for the entire 20th century, with the teams’ two post-season contests split down the middle– one win each. Bear in mind the Raiders won three Super Bowls during this era, while the Seahawks largely languished in their own feces like the expansion team they were. Still, they proved a nagging burr in the saddle of the Silver & Black, much to my historical chagrin.

At school, I was subject to a vast array of Monday morning asskickings: spiritual and literal, not to mention financial. Twice a season I took every bet offered to me– brashly giving points and talking shit. Countless Monday mornings taunted, poked and shoved in the hallways– a fistfull of dollar bills in my handraider and a tear in my eye. I suffered for my Pride & Poise (the Raider motto before Just Win, Baby) and my resentment for the popular Seahawks deepened. Continue reading

The Max Factor: free house with purchase of 18lb black cat

photo by Phil Rose


Max doesn’t give a damn. He’s fat and rich, but that hasn’t gone to his head. His head is huge– like the rest of him– but it’s not out of any inflated sense of self. He just doesn’t give a damn.

Outdoor cats generally don’t. They’re usually quite content with their stations– free to roam and kill and fuck. Out all night every night with no demands on them whatsoever. Free as the wind. A pirate’s life!

As long as someone leaves some food out, that is. Mice and birds and snakes are delicious supplements, but it’s hard to get fat hunting. Someone to leave the dry food out is crucial. It doesn’t much matter who it is. Continue reading

Bellingham houses that are probably haunted

The Haunted House aint what it used to be.

Back before the terror business became a $1.2 billion dollar seasonal industry in the United States, a haunted house was just that– a residence some warm people shared with someone else who was no longer living but who was still there. A ghost!

These days haunted houses are big money, with more than 1200 admission-charging attractions operating in the US alone. The domestic tradition goes back to the 1970s when the Jaycees pioneered the modern concept as a fundraiser. And though lots of communities (including ours) still feature attractions stewarded by schools and scouts, the for-profit crowd really got in the game in the 1990s. Today, the industry supports a frightful variety of manufactures & retailers, magazines, websites and trade shows. It is no longer commercially-viable to screw in a blacklight bulb and coax visitors to stick their hands into a bowl of cold spaghetti. To keep up with the Kruegers nowadays, you need Hollywood make-up artists, state-of-the-art hologram projection, hydraulics, and real fire. Maybe even a live alligator. Continue reading

Top of the Hill


With quick access to both downtown Bellingham and Western Washington University, this modern 3-bed 2-bath  home is a great option for those who aren’t afraid of a few stairs. 

Eighty-seven of them, to be exact. 

That’s how many you’d take getting from the mailbox to the deck off the second-floor master. I guess I don’t know why you’d necessarily need to get from the mailbox to the far end of the top room in the house with any regularity, but if you did  that’s how many steps it would take. 

The point is, this house is not a good fit for the week-kneed or for families that might include children whose tiny legs are not yet developed enough for them to scale 87 stairs on their own.  Continue reading

Urban Oasis

across the gardens toward the house from the southeast corner

What buyers are interested in this season isn’t made of granite and Brazilian Cherry, and it certainly isn’t 4,000 sqft. What the anxious buyer in Whatcom County is responding to in this transitional market is light, flow and setting.

Vualah! Witness this enchanting new listing on a shy half-acre right off the trails leading from downtown. This discreet pocket of the Whatcom Falls neighborhood is right across the southeast entrance to the Park, between the Falls and Lake Whatcom. The sunny non-through street features a spirited mix of architecture, from turn-of-the-century farmhouses to ultra modern villas. Our hero is a 1990s-built custom with design surprises at every turn. Oriented south to welcome the year-round sun into the 2-story living room windows, the home is flush with warming & illuminating natural light any time of day except night. Continue reading