The median sales price for a Jackson County single-family residence is just about where it was 10 years ago.
Figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service show the median price for existing homes sold between May 1 and July 31 climbed 17.9 percent to $194,500 from $165,000 a year ago.
The median price for July alone was $200,000, indicating the trend line may rise more during this buying season.
The median price for all residential units for the whole of 2003 was $187,500. By 2004 it had risen to $224,000 as the real estate bubble inflated in earnest.
"The cost of new construction is causing a lot more activity in the resale market," said Ron Galbreath, an agent with Coldwell Banker Pro West Real Estate.
"The homes built by (contractors) DeCarlow, Whittle and Mallott in the 1990s are selling for $200,000 to $250,000 for 1,700 square feet to 2,000 square feet. That's a lot more reachable for retirees than the $300,000 you're seeing for brand-new homes with the similar square footage."
Galbreath said retirees moving in from out of state are bolstering the local market just as they did for four decades before the housing bubble collapsed, shutting off the flow of out-of-state money.
"We're seeing the greatest influx from out of state since the recession," Galbreath said. "We're becoming a retirement destination again."
The pace of existing single-family residential sales remained steady, with 601 residences exchanging hands during the three-month period, one less than a year earlier.
Although the 1,181 homes on the SOMLS inventory is up from the 1,123 a month ago, it is down 2.4 percent from the 1,210 available a year ago.
The turnaround time from when a house goes on the market fell to 47 days from 67.
Roy Wright, a longtime private residential appraiser, said he saw something he hadn't encountered in several years earlier this summer. He appraised homes in east Medford and Ashland that weren't involved in sales and both exceeded the purchase price.
"Usually when you're appraising a house bought in 2004, 2005 or 2006, it's coming in way below what people paid for it," Wright said. "I haven't seen that for a long, long time."
For others, there is a slower comeback — especially on high-end homes.
"We lost 10 years of equity during the downturn," said Gail Schoeneberg, an agent with Re/Max Platinum.
"When I'm doing a competitive market analysis people will tell me, 'That's what I paid 10 years ago.' They've put a lot of additional money into their place and spruced it up."
Interest rates — still better than a decade ago for the most part — will play a major in role in seeing how far the present trend continues. So will consumer confidence, which didn't seem as big of a factor in the early 2000s.
"Whether it was artificial or real, consumer confidence was a lot better back then," Schoeneberg said. "We hadn't had the Great Recession yet and that rocked everyone to the core — everyone took a hit."
New home activity continues to improve as well, with 60 units selling between May 1 and July 31, compared with 49 a year earlier.
The median for those homes rose 22.5 percent to $229,100. Many new homes, however, are sold outside the SOMLS system.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness.