But ‘true test will be next three months’ 

  WHATCOM — The median sales price of a Whatcom County home rose 9.1% to $420,000 in the first quarter of 2020, but the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local housing market remains to be seen.

  While pricing kept moving higher, the number of Whatcom County home sales inched up only 0.2% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago that was down due to harsh winter weather, according to Troy Muljat, owner and president of Bellingham-based Muljat Group Realtors. He prepares a report quarterly based on data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service.

  “The true test will be the next three months,” Muljat said.

  Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order was announced March 23, forcing non-essential businesses to close within 48 hours and resulting in high job losses. It’s too early to know how the order, extended by Inslee through May 4, will affect home buyers and sellers, but Muljat is optimistic.

  “Title companies are closing sales and the county Auditor’s Office is recording sales,” Muljat said. “Agents are becoming creative with increased video tours and virtual meetings, taking advantage of all the technology that we have available. Some buyers who have lost out on previous multiple offers may now find their home without a competing offer and rates remain historically low.”

  Bellingham has been the hottest market in Whatcom County in recent years, but not in the first quarter of 2020, Muljat said. The median home sales price in Bellingham increased only 4.1% to $505,000 and the number of homes sold fell 6.2%, while Birch Bay/Blaine and Sudden Valley posted strong numbers in both categories.

  Listed below are: the median sales price, average sales price, number of units sold and average days on the market (DOM) before a sale for the county as a whole and individual communities for the first quarter of 2020, with percentage comparisons to the first quarter of 2019.

Whatcom County — Median price, $420,000, up 9.1%; average price, $451,048, up 6.3%; units sold, 521, up 0.2%; DOM, 59, down 7.8%.

Bellingham — Median price, $505,000, up 4.1%; average price, $569,526, up 5.7%; units sold, 166, down 6.2%; DOM, 52, up 20.9%.

Birch Bay/Blaine — Median price, $375,000, up 21.8%; average price, $401,703, up 8.2%; units sold, 89, up 74.5%; DOM, 65, down 33.0%.

Ferndale — Median price, $472,500, up 27.0%; average price, $460,736, up 24.7%; units sold, 73, down 26.3%; DOM, 57, down 32.1%.

Lynden — Median price, $412,500, up 9.8%; average price, $425,554, up 6.1%; units sold, 48, unchanged; DOM, 52, up 15.6%.

Mount Baker — Median price, $279,000, up 16.3%; average price, $238,684, down 10.1%; units sold, 45, down 8.2%; DOM, 95, up 33.8%. 

Nooksack Valley — Median price, $350,950, up 6.8%; average price, $374,586, up 15.8%; units sold, 28, down 9.7%; DOM, 56, up 1.8%. 

Sudden Valley — Median price, $357,250, up 7.4%; average price, $382,809, up 16.0%; units sold, 34, up 30.8%; DOM, 43, down 17.3%.