Category Archives: Seniors and Active Adults

The “Right Size” Home – In The Pacific Northwest…

Work hard, buy a home, start a family and continue to upgrade your home until everyone has enough room. This has been the blueprint for lots of homeowners for the last fifty years but there is certainly a shift in thinking that could change all of that.

Interestingly, Americans live in much larger homes than most people in other countries throughout the world. The U.S. Census reported in 2006 that the average single family home completed had 2,469 square feet which was 769 feet more than in 1976.

Once the children are grown and have moved out, homeowners are finding they have too much room. Even if their home is paid for, they have higher property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance on the larger home than they’d have if they were living in the “right size” home.

Some homeowners state thaty they’re keeping their larger home because it has luxury features that smaller homes don’t have. There’s a movement that seems to have started in the United States to find the “right size” home with the amenities and convenience that homeowners want.

This philosophy has been expressed by Sarah Susanka in her book Creating the Not So Big House. It proposes a house that “values quality over quantity with an emphasis on comfort and beauty, a high level of detail, and a floor plan designed for today’s informal lifestyle.”

There’s No Place Like Home – In The Pacific Northwest…

You don’t have to be Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to feel like there’s no place like home.


      Home is a place to call your own. It’s a place to raise your family and share with your friends. It’s a place to create memories. A home is a place to feel safe and secure.

Inspect all of your decorations and electrical lighting before using them. While you’re enjoying the holidays this year, it’s important to pay attention to some of the things that may affect your safety.

  • Extension cords should not be placed under the carpet or rugs or bundled together which could cause overheating.
  • Limit three standard size sets of lights to a single extension cord.
  • Consider using portable or permanent ground fault circuit interrupters with all lighting to avoid possible shocks.
  • Turn off holiday lights when you leave the home or got to bed.
  • Avoid using candles near trees or wreaths.
  • Do not allow natural trees to dry out during the time they’re displayed to potential fire hazard.
  • Make certain that all trees are on a firm, steady base to avoid tipping over.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in fireplaces.
  • Small children are particularly susceptible to accidents and should be protected from potential harm.
Here’s hoping your time at home is special during this holiday season. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

Attn.: Pacific Northwest Home Owners. Lower Your Assessment = Lower Taxes!

Many homeowners are overlooking an opportunity to lower their property taxes by not challenging their tax assessment.  Property values have decreased in the past two to three years and the assessment may not reflect the current market value.

Deadlines are critical and if the challenge isn’t made in a timely fashion, the opportunity to lower the assessment can be lost for the year.  You’ll need tdo verify the deadlines for your area.

The process for the challenge is relatively simple and can be done by a homeowner or by professional representation.  In some cases, if there is an obvious mistake, the state employee may be able to correct it without a hearing.

Check the property assessment record for common mistakes that can include the number of bedrooms, baths, lot size and square footage of the improvements.  Documentation is required to verify the errors.  If you have an appraisal, such as when you purchased the home, it can serve as proof of the discrepancy.

In other cases, a hearing is required before a panel of citizens who will listen to testimony from the taxpayer and a representative of the assessor’s office.  Based on the documentation presented, the panel will make a ruling to lower the value, make no change or in some cases, raise the valuation.

Recently closed comparables are the most common proof presented in a hearing.  Comparables should be similar in size, condition and location.  A knowledgeable real estate professional can filter the results generated in a MLS search to identify the most appropriate.

I’m prepared to supply the comparables, filing deadlines and other pertinent information you need to make a challenge.  Lowering your assessment will result in lower property taxes and more money in your pocket.

Northwest Washington Fair Coming Soon August 16-21

The Northwest Washington Fair is coming to Lynden soon, and Whatcom County locals know it’s not something you should miss!

From the Lynden Rodeo to a Demolition Derby, from open-air concerts to all the rides your stomach can handle — there is something for everyone this year at the Northwest Washington Fair.

Oh . . . and did we mention the food?

Here is a short list of events so you can plan your perfect family evening at The Fair:

Demolition Derby — Monday, Aug. 16, 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Weird Al Yancovik in concert — Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.

Kenny Rogers — Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Casting Crowns – Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Rick Springfield – Friday, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Metal Mulisha Motocross – Saturday, August 21, 6 p.m.

For more information, including ticket info, please visit Please visit my informative site at to learn more about what makes Lynden a great Pacific Northwest community in which to live, work and play.

Check out the Bellingham Arts Festival July 31-August 1

Once again, Allied Arts of Whatcom County is putting on a fantastic show in Downtown Bellingham this year!

For two days this coming weekend, the 1200, 1300 and 1400 blocks of Cornwall Avenue will be alive with color, as over 60 of The Pacific Northwest‘s finest artists display their paintings, pottery, fiber art and more! Local Whatcom County bands will perform music on the Main Stage, and the ArtBar will feature local wines and brews for your tasting pleasure.

Also taking place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the 18th Annual Chalk ArtFest, an event open to families, children, adults & community groups. There will be prizes awarded and professional photography of the chalk creations. This community event attracts thousands of visitors to Downtown Bellingham to see people of all ages and backgrounds celebrating creativity through the simple act of drawing with chalk on a sidewalk. Wagon rides will allow visitors to tour the chalk creations. Don’t miss this fun community event — if you’d like to participate, adults can buy a square for $25, and children’s squares are $12. For more information call 360-676-8548 ext 5 or email

The vibrant arts community in Bellingham and Whatcom County is just one of the reasons that living in Bellingham is a wonderful experience. To find a work of art that you can come home to each day, please take a look at our FREE Pacific Northwest MLS Search!

Changing Retirement Home Trends — and What They Can Mean for You

Start Planning Early

We all know that if we want the live in the home of your dreams at retirement, it’s essential to start retirement planning early.  But in many cases retirement goals and plans have changed since earlier generations, and so it’s important to think through what kind of retirement you’re actually planning for.

Former Retirement Trends

It used to be that, as soon as the kids were gone and the nest was empty, our parents traded in the larger family home for a smaller, cheaper condo in a warm-weather location like Florida or Arizona.  They would then use the difference to see them through their retirement years.  Some baby-boomers are clearly following that trend, but many are not.

Other Retirement Choices and What They Mean for You

There has been a marked increase in boomers who are planning to buy a nicer home, invest in a second home, or renovate their current home with some luxury comforts.

What does this mean?  Well, for starters, it may mean that you’ll need to plan for home expenses to take up a bigger chunk of your retirement income each month.  This requires greater savings than our parents often required.  It requires more intentional planning. And the earlier you start your retirement planning, the greater your choices for how you’d like to live when you retire.

One smart way to plan is to first consider the daily retirement lifestyle you’d like to have before deciding on what kind of home you’d like. A pros and cons list of your current living situation can also help clarify your goals. It’s important here to make sure you’re not just considering financial considerations, but personal lifestyle goals as well, since a healthy balance between both can ensure a happy, peaceful retirement.

Here is just a brief list of questions you (and your spouse or partner) should consider when it comes to lifestyle choices at retirement:

  • What kind of climate would you prefer to retire in?
  • What kind of environment would you like — the city, the suburbs, the country, a retirement community?
  • How important is your proximity to children, grandchildren, friends, and other loved ones?
  • Is it important to have room for overnight guests or long-term stays (i.e. aging parents)?
  • What kind of amenities do you want to have close-by?
  • How close do you need to live to medical facilities and community facilities, such as the library?
  • Do you need access to buses, airports, etc?
  • What kind of recreational activities would you like to have close-by?

For your finances, it’s important to consider:

  • Mortgage or rent payments, and how much you’re willing to pay in retirement
  • How much equity you have in your current home
  • Potential association, condominium, or other community related fees
  • Keeping up your intended property, from housekeeping to mowing the lawn to shoveling snow to replacing the roof
  • Utilities
  • Home improvements to accommodate your future physical needs and limitations
  • Property taxes

If you’re currently looking to retire in the Pacific Northwest, Susan Stecher and her team of real estate professionals are ready and waiting to answer any questions you have, as well as provide helpful tools for planning the Pacific Northwest retirement of your dreams. Call (360) 319-4939 or toll-free (888) 319-4939 to talk to Susan today!

Bellingham Concerts in the Park Begin!

Boulevard Park concertOne of the amazing perks of living in Bellingham, WA, is the opportunity to take advantage of all the great live music throughout the summer season! The recreational activities throughout Whatcom County are endless.

From Celtic music to Salsa, Classic Rock to Jazz, music enthusiasts of every kind will find live local concerts to enjoy throughout the summer. Every concert is free and fun for the whole family!

Here’s a list of park venues and times:

At Elizabeth Park in the Columbia Neighborhood:

Thursdays June 24-August 26, 6-8 p.m.

At Boulevard Park in the South Hill Neighborhood:

Saturdays June 19-August 14, 7-9 p.m.

At Big Rock Garden Park in the Alabama Hill Neighborhood:

Selected Sundays June 20-August 15, 3:30-5 p.m.

Children’s Concert Series at the Bellingham Library Lawn in Downtown Bellingham:

Fridays July 16-August 13, noon-1 p.m.

To get more specific details on each concert date, please visit the City of Bellingham.

Retire in Bellingham!

Award-winning Bellingham, Washington has long been recognized as a great place to live — from Outdoor Magazine’s “Top 10 Dream Towns” to CNN/’s “27th Best Place to Live,” many have recognized what people who live in Bellingham have known for a long time: this community is definitely something special.

What you may not know is that retiring in Bellingham is also becoming nationally known! AARP Magazine has listed Bellingham in it’s Best-Of retirement rankings several times, with Bellingham coming in 2nd on its list of “10 Best Dream Towns” for boomers looking to retire. Bellingham also came in on the list of “15 Best Places to Reinvent Your Life.”

And for you golfers out there — Bellingham also came in 7th in the US for golf, according to Golf Digest.

Why all the recognition? For starters, Whatcom County is home to diverse natural beauty, from Bellingham Bay, to rolling dairy farmland, to Mount Baker  . . . and all those evergreen trees in between. This close proximity to nature means that Northwest active adults and seniors can get out and enjoy the great outdoors with ease.

But Bellingham also offers the convenience of a medium-size city. You’re never far from modern conveniences, and if you really desire big-city fun, you’re located halfway between Vancouver BC and Seattle. From live music to museums to visual arts and the theater, Bellingham also offers a wide array of cultural delights!

To find your own dream retirement home in Whatcom County, or to get more information on retiring in Bellingham, give me a call at (360) 319-4939 or toll-free at (888) 319-4939!

Get an Up-Close View of Bellingham History May 9!

If you love history, you’re in luck this weekend! The Daughters of Pioneers are hosting an open house and tours of the Pickett House — the oldest building in Bellingham and the oldest wooden structure in Washington State!

Captain George E. Pickett first moved to Bellingham as leader of Company D of the Ninth Infantry to offer early Bellingham settlers protection.  Soon after his arrival in Whatcom County, he began building his house overlooking the Roeder-Peabody Lumber Mill on Whatcom Creek. Built of undressed planks in 1856, the house is an important historical landmark for Whatcom County and The Pacific Northwest.

Pickett himself left Bellingham in 1861 when he went back to Virginia to lead Confederate troops in the Civil War. After becoming a General, Pickett led the 1863 charge at Gettysburg.

The Pickett House will be open to the public from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 9th. The house is located at 910 Bancroft St., Bellingham, WA, 98225.

Photo Courtesy City of Bellingham

Bellingham Ski to Sea Gear Swap May 1

Since 1973, Bellingham‘s Ski to Sea Race — and the festivities surrounding it — have been a big part of life in Whatcom County. This year’s race is only a month away on May 30!

If you’re not familiar, Ski to Sea is a 90-mile race completed by hundreds of 8-member teams from all over the world. Racers start at Mt. Baker on cross-country skis. Downhill skiers or snowboarders take over from there, followed by running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and finally kayaking. The race ends in historic Fairhaven.

If you’re looking for gear for the race, or if you’re just looking for some good outdoor gear as the temps warm up, make sure to stop by the Community Building at Bloedel Donovan Park in the Silver Beach neighborhood, 2214 Electric Ave, from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, May 1. You’ll be able to find skis, snowboards, canoes, kayaks and bicycles at great prices!

And don’t forget to mark your calendar for these fun and family-friendly Ski to Sea festivities —

• Golf Classic May 20

• Jr. Parade May 21

• Jr. Race May 22

• Grand Parade May 29

• Ski to Sea Race May 30.

Bellingham recreation abounds during this time of year, and it’s only one more reason why life here in The Pacific Northwest is something special. To find a Whatcom County home here in this active, lively community, please give me a call today at (360) 319-4939 or toll-free at (888) 319-4939.

Photo Courtesy:
lmbevis & michaeleastley