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MailTribune.com
  • Median residential housing prices rise 10.7 percent, but may begin to level out

  • The median price for Jackson County's existing homes jumped 10.7 percent between May 1 and July 31, climbing to $215,000. Rural properties achieved the same gain with the median hitting $310,000.
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  • The three-month period ending July 31 proved to be profitable for many Jackson County home sellers.
    The median price for both urban and rural property climbed 10.7 percent, according to figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.
    The median price for urban houses rose to $215,000 from $194,200 during a comparable period in 2013. In both cases, the average time on market for houses that were sold was 46 days. The median price for July alone was $222,000, compared to $200,000 a year earlier.
    Interest rates have stayed steady, the inventory of homes is up and new construction is on the rise. Yet feeble job growth and a lackluster local economy have dampened the market.
    "It just doesn’t feel robust to me," said Eric Calhoun, an agent with RE/MAX Ideal Brokers of Medford. "I don't feel like we're back, and we're not seeing the large influx of California buyers."
    Terry Rasmussen, an agent with John L. Scott Real Estate in Medford, suggested the broader market may benefit from flatter prices.
    "We're coming off a market bounce," Rasmussen said. "There's more strength off the bottom. We wouldn't want to sustain the appreciation we've seen the last two or three years. It needs to level out or else we'd get into another bubble. There's an adjustment taking place; we're getting into an even market right now."
    West Medford, southwest Medford, Talent and White City all showed double-digit median price gains for existing homes, while areas along the Rogue River saw a slight dip.
    "The market remains solid for first-time and potential investors," Calhoun said. "The entry-level houses and White City and west Medford are doing well."
    He said new, single-family residence construction of houses ranging from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet — even as small as 1,200 to 1,300 square feet — that sell for $179,000 to $189,000 pencil out well when interest rates are around 4 percent.
    "It's about the same as they are paying in rent," Calhoun said.
    The inventory for such homes lags behind those in the $250,000 to $350,000 range.
    "There's still more of a dogfight when you get into the entry-level houses," Calhoun said. "There's definitely a better selection when you get over $250,000."
    The pace of sales for existing homes fell just over 1.6 percent during those three months, slipping to 604 transactions, versus 612 a year ago.
    The median price for a rural home in Jackson County was $310,000, up from $280,000. A total of 137 rural homes sold during the period, with an average of 109 days on market.
    The countywide inventory expanded 10 percent year-over-year, to 1,299 residences, compared to 1,181 in 2013.
    "A lot of the bounce we had was from pent-up demand when people were holding their breath," Rasmussen said. "Now the market is active, but more normal. Instead of a crush of new people coming in, we're seeing demand start to ease. We haven't seen it this way for 15 years, in the late 1990s and early 2000s -- went from there to an insane up market to an insane down market followed by a bounce. We need 3 to 4 percent annual appreciation and we've been much more rapid than that."

    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge. 

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