The median sales price for existing single-family residences in Jackson County edged up 2.2 percent for the three months ending April 30, compared with a similar period in 2013.
Figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service show the countywide median price — with half of the sales above the figure and half below — between Feb. 1 and April 30 rose to $190,000 from $186,000 a year ago. The turnaround time on sales was 50 days, compared with 62 a year earlier.
From Feb. 1 through April, activity declined 5.8 percent with home sales falling to 425 from 451 a year ago. In April alone, however, there were 196 sales, versus 191 in April 2013, the first such uptick in 12 months.
"The buyers have been there, they've just didn't want to buy what was available," said Geoffrey O'Neill, an agent with John L. Scott Real Estate in Medford. "There wasn't that much for them to choose from. They were being picky and saying, 'We're not going to take just anything.' "
The median price for a rural home in the county fell 10.6 percent to $248,000 from $277,500. The average time on the market for the 99 properties that sold during the period was 90 days.
All of the larger markets SOMLS tracks have more houses available than this time last year. As a result, the inventory is 13.6 percent larger, with 1,108 homes listed, up from 975 last May.
"Buyers have been waiting until spring to see what's on the market," O'Neill said. "Sellers, in turn were waiting to see what kind of prices they would get for their houses. Some of them are realizing prices have gone up, and they're realizing maybe it's time for them to move."
While not all new homes go through the SOMLS system, it remains an indicator of activity. There were 70 new homes sold during the three-month period, a 46-percent gain. The median price for new construction sales was $241,373, up 11 percent from $217,400 a year ago.
One indication new construction is slowly making a comeback is developers willing to invest in infrastructure. Crews from Bill's Backhoe Service are trenching and installing sewer and water lines on the extensions of Murry Hill Terrace and Innsbruck Ridge, preparing the way for dozens of new lots on the eastern flank of Vista Pointe Drive in the Oregon Hills area off East McAndrews Road.
An additional element favoring a solid summer of selling has been stable interest rates, which have held despite the Federal Reserve indicating it would slow its efforts to stimulate the economy.
"That makes people nervous," O'Neill said. "But that hasn't changed interest rates that much. They even ticked down a tiny bit last Friday."
Foreclosures accounted for less than 10 percent of the activity in Jackson County, while short sales came into play 7.3 percent of the time.