Real estate firm under new ownership, but still in the family

Frank Muljat, left, and his son Troy Muljat, are pictured at The Muljat Group office in Bellingham on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
Frank Muljat, left, and his son Troy Muljat, are pictured at The Muljat Group office in Bellingham on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

One of Bellingham’s largest and oldest independent real estate firms will remain in local ownership following a recent sale.

Frank Muljat has sold The Muljat Group to his son, Troy, the company announced Tuesday. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Troy Muljat said there are no immediate changes planned for the firm, noting he wants to keep focusing on ways to make sure brokers get the training and support they need. His father will remain as a managing broker at least through the first part of 2017, and continue to have a role in the company thereafter.

“Retirement is not an option for me,” Frank Muljat said. “I love this work, the people I work with, this office. You have to love where you work. It makes life better.”

Frank Muljat founded the company in 1988; he has been in real estate since 1966. The Muljat Group has offices in Bellingham and Lynden, totaling about 60 agents.

Having Troy Muljat take over ownership of the firm comes at a time when technology continues to reshape the industry. Technology is a big part of his background: He helped create a real estate website in 1994 and has been involved in technology ever since.

He is the co-owner of technology firms Big Fresh and Tech Help. He also co-founded, a digital marketing company that provides tools and services to real estate agents.

Other businesses he co-owns include Landmark Real Estate Management and Signature Maintenance. Troy Muljat is also a commercial and residential appraiser.

While he acknowledges that technology continues to change the real estate industry, Troy Muljat said it’s still the agents who play a crucial role in helping homebuyers and sellers.

“Keeping up with technology is exciting to me, and I welcome it,” he said. “But it still needs to meet the needs of the customers and agents.”

It is expected to be an interesting year ahead for the Whatcom County real estate market. Local real estate agents posted a 5.1 percent increase in sales in 2016, while tight inventory led to a 10.3 percent increase in prices, according to a year-end report by Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group. She used data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Muljat said last year’s sales and price data are out of the norm for Whatcom County, and would expect things to slow down, especially if mortgage interest rates rise. While higher interest rates will decrease buying power, there is still a supply imbalance that will keep it a tight market, he said.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz