Bellingham: It’s a college town in a stunning setting with an ideal pace of life ― not too fast, not too slow. Activities abound for young and old alike; Bellingham is consistently rated high both for the outdoor activities it provides to the younger crowd and for the quality of retirement life for the older set.

What does it add up to? An incredible shortage of rental units, for one thing.

It also adds up to challenges in the property management industry, including:

It’s a tough industry, stuck between supply and demand. On one hand, many building owners want to collect the highest possible rent ― and that’s OK; after all, their properties are an investment, and they’re supposed to make a profit. On the other hand, you have families and students who can’t afford high rents but are caught in the supply-demand cyclone. The middleman in this situation is the property management company, who then bears the brunt of renters’ complaints about sticker shock and the dearth of available housing due to the active market. The rental market in Bellingham can be pretty frustrating for renters, and the property management companies are usually the ones who collect the rent so they hear about it!

The role of a property management company can vary widely depending on the building’s owner. In many cases, the property management company is not responsible for maintenance and repairs of the building. In these cases, they handle pre-rental paperwork, marketing and advertising vacancies, showing units, collecting rent and processing maintenance requests, but it’s the building owner who is actually doing the work. This is not the case in every building, of course, but it works like this in most buildings, and the occupants usually don’t understand the difference. So again, it’s the property management company that fields the complaints of renters in the event that maintenance issues aren’t solved as quickly as they’d like.

Landmark Real Estate Management in Bellingham is keenly aware of this, and they’ve been doing what they can to improve situations for renters in Bellingham. For starters, they’ve joined with Lydia Place in Bellingham to try to help find housing for homeless families.

Landmark also is committed to helping their property owner clients work within the guidelines of the City of Bellingham’s Rental Registration and Safety Inspection Program, through which each rental property in the area receives a safety inspection every three years.

Given the popularity, natural beauty and quality of life in Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County, housing probably will always be a sore spot for area residents. Companies like Landmark, though, hope to change the tide.

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