Jackson County home prices rise, but not at fierce pace

    Whether it's real estate, stocks or commodities, timing is always a critical factor.

    You can't buy low and sell high unless, well, you bought low.

    "In any market, people are always looking for the top and bottom, waiting for the right time," said Colin Mullane, an agent with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland and spokesman for the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors. "I sense that people have been waiting for some time to see where it peaks."

    While there is little to suggest we're living in the peak months, the median sales price for existing Jackson County homes grew at a slower rate than much of the past five years.

    From Aug. 1 through Oct. 31, the median transaction price of $270,000 rose 7.6 percent above the $251,000 figure a year earlier, Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service reported Friday.

    Side by side with the nearly 11 percent average gain since the third quarter of 2012, when the median sale was $175,000, there is a sense of balance since the market roared back from the Great Recession doldrums.

    Still, we have a bit to go to surpass the countywide high-water median mark of $285,000 recorded in August 2007.

    The metro markets — Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle — that routinely feed the Rogue Valley with home buyers continue to thrive. Coupled with a modest 9.1 percent gain of available houses in Jackson County, the sales pace accelerated 2.7 percent from last year with 806 single-family properties exchanging hands compared to 785 during a similar period in 2016.  The amount of time it took for an offer to get accepted fell to 34 days from 42. 

    Mullane argues the additional houses appearing on the market last month were generally snapped up. Buyers who had passed on existing inventory were all seeking similar homes in the same neighborhoods.

    "We didn't have the inventory to support the demand in August, but maybe we're starting to see things equalize with more supply," he said.

    "The biggest challenge, and we've never had this to the extent we're seeing now, is that the seller has nowhere to go if they sell."

    It works for people wanting to downsize from the five-bedroom family fortress to a three-bedroom cottage, but for those wanting to move up, not so much.

    "Downsizing is an easier move because interest rates are still low," Mullane said.

    Renting short-term from the new owner is a tradition approach, but presently in the Rogue Valley, it doesn't work as well.

    "It's hard to get a short-term, three-, four- or six-month lease," Mullane said.

    East Medford median prices generally trail Ashland and Jacksonville, but it remains the county's most active sales area. There were 233 existing houses that exchanged hands during the third quarter at a median price of $295,000. The median — half of the sales above and half below — for October was $296,500.

    Although new construction frequently is sold outside the SOMLS system, east Medford accounted for more than half of the new construction sales for the past three months. The median price was $367,950.

    Although more existing houses are trickling onto the market, it's really not enough, said Ron Galbreath, an agent with Coldwell Banker Pro West Real Estate in Medford.

    "There is a lot of new construction in east Medford versus the rest of the county, even though it is exorbitantly high," Galbreath said. "But people are buying because of the location. It seems as quick as a lot is developed, there is a buyer, and it's sold."

    Eventually, prime new construction zones become prime resale zones, he said.

    The median transaction price for a rural home in the county edged up 1.3 percent to $359,000 from $354,500 last year, SOMLS also reported Friday.

    — Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

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