Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Tag Archives: Real estate

 President’s Day/Mid-Winter Break in Chelan

In the greater Puget Sound area, a fair number of the private and public schools have the President’s Day week off. No one knows for sure why we take a whole week off (considering we just had two weeks off around Christmas and New Year’s Day).   I use to hate having another week off so soon after Christmas, but I have grown to love it over the years.  The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, which makes this week a good break for vacation trips.  Airfare prices arent too bad and it seems only our local schools do the “Mid-Winter” Break.

The past few years, we have gone to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island), California.  This year, my daughter is doing club volleyball and my son is doing a college program during his senior year so a family trip wasn’t going to happen. My son still has classes this week, while my daughter doesn’t.  So no out of town, flyaway trips for us.

This year, we did manage to get away to Lake Chelan.  We traded overcast, rainy skies for snow and gray skies.  The drive over was decent; roads and highways were wet and snow free.


As you can see from the photos, the lake appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared.

Then on a drive up to look at a piece of property, the clouds rolled in and went from blue skies to thick clouds (or fog) conditions.

Uh, the road is somewhere out there.


During the winter, the towns of Chelan and Manson slow down. Some of the businesses are mostly the summer type, catering to the tourist families from the west side of the Cascade mountains and stay open during summer months only.  In the winter, the local wineries and their tasting rooms switch to the Friday-Saturday-Sunday limited hours schedule due to the slowdown in suburban mom traffic.  As an example, a few weeks back when my wife and I came to Chelan, we were the only ones at the Benson Vibeyard/Winery’s tasting room.  A nice quiet afternoon to enjoy the view and a bottle of red wine.

Overall, Chelan and Manson are both great getaway locations.  Lots of wineries, a bowling alley, a few pizza and burger joints await the hardy visitor.  Snowshoe or cross country ski in the morning, do a few wine tastings in the afternoon, head out to dinner, and cap it all off with a night of bowling.  What could be more fun?

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TV Show: Hawaii Life – four more episodes!

Ah, a piece of paradise!

Ah, a piece of paradise!

The new TV season of the show “Hawaii Life” has started and we have been catching up with old episodes.  The last four episodes (we have watched) have featured two property searches on the Big Island and two property searches on Kauai.  You’ll be pleased to know, I watched these from the comfort of my couch with the gas fireplace blasting!  Ah, warmth.

The four episodes I watched this time around and their price range:

Living Off the Big Island (up to $500K)

From Boston to the Big Island (up to $300K)

Boogie Boarding on Kauai ($600-800K)

Single Mother Shops on Kauai ($400-600K)

The Big Island appears to be a little more affordable than Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.  At least the properties that were shown appeared to be more affordable.

The lower price range houses (under $300K) are fixer uppers.  Some are just update issues but all appear to be livable.  Nothing a few hundred thousand dollars of remodeling couldn’t fix.

Townhouses and condos might have HOA fees as much $511 per month (as we saw in the Boogie Boarding episode).  To be fair, we have condos here in Seattle with crazy high monthly maintenance dues and fees as well.

Much like the southern United States, you also get to deal with bugs and termites.  Home inspections are very important in everything state but in Hawaii, you might run into mold in greater numbers because of the high humidity.  But hold on, the various islands and the location where you are on that island can also influence the mold situation.  Recently, my friend moved from one part of Kauai to another and he ran into the mold issue.

He has lived on Kauai all his life and he has never had to deal with mold.  He moved from a drier area to a wetter area.  More dampness equals more potential for mold.  The house might not have mold in the actual structure but your clothes boxed up and stuck in storage might get a moldy smell to them.  Good airflow is one of the keys to fighting mold.

On a side note: I’m really beginning to hate the show’s tagline “You don’t have to be rich to live in Hawaii; you just have to want it.”  One reason is that whenever the real estate brokers say it, they just look like some stoner surfer dudes.  Forced smiles on their faces.  Oh please.

The “Hawaii Life” show is also just a 22 minute long sales show.  Whoever thought up this reality show was a genius for turning a sales show into a reality show.  It is always the same real estate company and guess what it is called? “Hawaii Life”!  Surprised, huh?

And on an ending note, this is my 200th post!  Yeah me!  I get a gold star!

My run in with Jim Bibby City of Burien Code Enforcement Officer

City of Burien Employee Jim Bibby – a man who doesn’t do his homework!

“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” -Confucius

Earlier this week, I received a letter from the code enforcement officer Jim Bibby of the City of Burien stating that my business doesn’t exist and I need to take my business sign down.

What?  Really?  So my City of Burien business license is worthless?  Why do I bother obtaining one every year?  Why was it issued to me by the City of Burien if my business doesn’t really exist?  Hmmm, do I get a refund then?

Jim Bibby doesn’t like me.  I had a run in with him in 2006 about this same sign.  He wouldn’t listen to me so I went over his head to get some answers and some real customer service.  I think he didn’t like that.  I didn’t cower up and do as he said.  He was clearly wrong then and he is wrong now.

I had another run in with him in 2008 in regards to a “For Rent” sign I had posted for an empty apartment we had.  He stated that I had to have a professional real estate sign posted, not a homemade one.  This is even if we (as owners of the property) wanted to rent it out ourselves instead of having a real estate agency do it.  (Please note: I am a Washington State licensed real estate broker).  We ended up post a sign in the window and it rented fairly quickly despite of Jim Bibby’s and the City of Burien’s actions.  Needless to say, the City of Burien is clearly anti-business and anti-landlord in that respect.  They probably hate cute puppies too.

People like Jim Bibby don’t help the City of Burien; they harm it.  Jim Bibby wants to impose his idea of what my photography business should look like onto me.  Jim Bibby stated in his telephone conversation to me that my photography business doesn’t look like a photography business.  Excuse me?  What?  Jim Bibby has moved from being a code enforcement officer to a photography business expert?  When did that happen?  Did I miss something?

I did ask him in his vast knowledge as a photography business owner that he knows exactly what a photography business looks like, right?  He told me he has never owned a photography business!  The how is he suppose to know what one looks like?  He sold shoes before he had a job as the code enforcement officer (according to the West Seattle Herald).  I told him that you can not pigeon hole all photography businesses into one small minded category.  Some photographers create passports, others photograph weddings, and still others like to strictly do commercial photography work.  Thus, we are not all the same and our businesses are all different.

You can say the same thing about people.  I have been mistaken for a cop a number of times.  I guess I have that “cop” look to me….but I’m not a cop.

What truly upsets me is that Jim Bibby has the gall to tell me what my photography business should look like.  He is a public servant working to enforce the code.  He is not an interior decorator designing a photography business.  If I want to paint the inside of my walls black with pink elephants and put photos of kitty cats in orange dresses, I’ll do it.  If I want to take my equipment home every night, I will.  If I want to work out of my studio some days and take other days off, I will.  For Jim Bibby to tell me that I’m not a photography business is beyond his scope of expertise and his job description.

The thing is, I share space with another business and I’m not over at the studio every day.  That is the nature of my photography business…I don’t have to be there every day.  I meet a lot of clients out on location and not at my Burien studio.  That is the way I run my business and that is the way I like it.  If I want to work from home, I’ll do that.  My photography business is strictly “by appointment only”.  If you don’t have an appointment, I probably won’t be there if you stop by unannounced.

If Jim Bibby did his job correctly and the way the taxpayers pay him to do it, he would have properly researched that I do have a LEGAL business license issued by the City of Burien and I do have a LEGAL business license from the State of Washington.  I have had these for years.  I pay my taxes.  I collect sales tax in the area my business is based in and forward it to the State of Washington as I am required to do.  I’m not trying to make waves here, I’m trying to run my business ethically and support my family financially.

Instead, Jim Bibby wastes my time and the taxpayer’s time and money by sending me a certified letter stating that I need to remove my LEGAL sign.  Yes, it is legal according to the laws and codes of the City of Burien!

In my conversation with Jim Bibby today, I asked him point blank: Do I have a business license in Burien?  The answer is yes.  Does that make my sign legal?  His answer: Yes.

Well, I guess you have your answer don’t you?  I informed this fact to code enforcement officer Jim Bibby.  I don’t think he was too happy with me.  I don’t think Jim likes it when someone points out he is wrong.

I also told him that he was harassing me and I didn’t like it.  He can’t tell me what my business is supposed to look like.  I’m not operating a pet store and claiming it is a photography studio.  I operate a photography business and I take my photography equipment with me on location.  If I want my business to be empty, it can be. My equipment doesn’t have to be all set up in the studio if I don’t want it to be.  In fact, the other business I share space with just painted and installed new floors.  The place looks awesome!  My equipment couldn’t stay set up during a remodel anyway. 

So Jim Bibby, Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Burien, please do your homework before you harass me again.  Otherwise, I will file a restraining order against you and have you arrested by the City of Burien Police Department for harassment.

Psst! I final got a blog entry for you to read!

Hey, it’s a new year and I’m finally getting around to posting a new blog entry,  what a way to build that readership up to high levels!  Maybe, I’ll get a whole two new readers.  In fact, I gave my grandma one of my old computers and made the opening page on here search engine my blog page!  Now she is forced to be one of my readers!  Only 6 billion people more to go….

What have I been up to lately?

As you know, I split my interests between photography, reading, and real estate.  Once in a while the three major interests of my life converge together in a most interesting way.  This hasn’t happened to me recently so I don’t have a great story to tell you, however, I did have one of my clients’ homes sell and close this month.  We are looking for a new home for them in the Fairwood/Renton area of Washington.  There are a great deal of homes for sale and there definitely is no lack of inventory to see.  One of our greatest challenges is finding a house with a fairly nice kitchen, a decent size backyard, and a decent master bedroom and master bathroom.  We are looking in the $300K to $430K price range.

Now, this would be easy but once you get into the upper price range, the houses do get large in size: 2800-3500 sq ft.  There are only three people in the family so that house size is extreme.  The smaller and cheaper houses tend to have less square footage and less upgrades making them less appealing.

Add   this mix falling values and overpriced homes, a narrow search area, and you get a lot of homes to look at that don’t quite fit the bill.

You want to know a secret?  I love looking at homes!  I love seeing the layouts, the landscaping, the extras people have added to their homes.  It is fun stuff!  The best part is hanging out with people you enjoy while looking at houses…it is addicting….like Facebook.  Speaking of Facebook, I’m in a dry and sober mode now.  I haven’t been checking out Facebook or updating my Facebook page and I feel free!

Of course, now with a new blog entry I have to post it on Facebook.  Hmm, a problem.

I can log on for just a minute…I can get through it…I can resist to urge to stay of Facebook for hours and hours….I can do this!

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