In Washington State, a real estate brokerage license allows licensees to practice in both commercial and residential real estate.  Saratoga has built a strong reputation on our expertise in commercial real estate, so while participating in the occasional residential transaction, we have largely focused on our commercial knowledge and proficiency.  In 2023, however, we had the opportunity to welcome a broker, John Fairbanks, who had spent the last decade specializing primarily in residential real estate.  This became the catalyst for launching Saratoga Homes (, a residential division, that is bolstered by John’s knowledge and further guided by his Managing Broker license.  This presence and platform for Saratoga will allow us to provide broad-spectrum brokerage for our existing clients and the opportunity for residential services throughout Washington.

Residential Market Update From John Fairbanks:

I am often asked, “how’s the real estate market” That is a tough question. Just when you think you have it figured, you realize it is changing. The future market is what most really want to know. Will my home’s value continue to rise? Can I purchase income property and expect strong rents and continued appreciation? In most cases our homes do appreciate. Especially here in Whatcom County, evident by our rising property taxes.

The red-hot market that we witnessed in the last few years slowed a bit this fall and early winter. The frenzy of multiple offers and escalations took a back seat to price drops, listing cancellations or extended closings. Without a doubt, sales are slow during the holidays and in the dark days of winter. That, however, appears to be easing. In the last 2-3 weeks, we have seen increased sales activity. Listings are pending faster. Once again Sellers are “reviewing offers on a specific date”, the result of increased competition among Buyers. I have spoken with other real estate agents recently. Many report recent transactions with multiple offers and price escalations.

If you do find a desirable home or condominium but are considering waiting until interest rates drop, you may want to reconsider. Any possible savings in interest might pale in comparison to lost appreciation. Bellingham and Whatcom County are “on the map” When I travel around the country, I often ask locals if they have heard of Bellingham. In most cases they have. They then proceed to tell me how lucky I am to live here. I couldn’t agree more.