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Home prices high amid stagnant sales

The winter real estate doldrums have settled in like patchy morning fog and afternoon drizzle.

There's not much movement and little anticipation of things heating up around the corner.

But while sales have dropped in Jackson County, the real estate market remains healthy enough to keep prices well above those of a year ago.

The overall number of home sales dropped 4.8 percent during 2005, compared to 2004, but the median price of single-family residences rose 25.4 percent, according to research by Medford appraiser Roy Wright.

During December, the median sales price within cities rose 22 percent, to &

36;288,900, even though the number of transactions declined more than 6 percent.

— I think there are fewer buyers right now, but we still have a good market, said Ida Pretiger of Premium Properties Realty. We may drop a little, but only to fair market value.

But the market is changing, she said.

I think this year is different from what I've experienced the last couple of years, Pretiger said. There is some reluctance on the part of buyers and a growing number of 'For Sale by Owner' homes, because they want to get all the money they can out of their house.

Buyers are biding their time, while inventory rises. Across the county, there are 65 percent more homes listed through the Multiple Listing Service than a year ago.

As of Monday morning, 1,099 houses were on the market locally, with a median asking price of &

36;339,900. Those houses have been on the market an average of 90 days. In December, the median selling price was &

36;51,000 less and those homes had been on the market 62 days.

I don't think there's any doubt we're now in a buyer's market, Wright said. The increases we've seen in most areas are tapering off. But our population growth is still showing 2 percent, so our demand is going to be better than most places. There are no labor problems, such as mills closing, so our economic base is stable.

As of the weekend, Central Point had 161 houses listed on the Multiple Listing Service files, or 127 percent more than last year. Ashland's inventory was up 83 percent and east Medford up 80 percent.

In the new construction sector, 299 homes are on the market, ranging in price from &

36;169,900 to &

36;1.6 million, with a median price of &


In Ashland, the number of sales fell 35.9 percent in December and finished the year 8.4 percent below 2004 levels. The median sales price, however, was &


We're experiencing an adjustment period. said Richard Kumro, an agent with Windermere Van Vleet & Associates in Ashland. It seems prices had been going at astronomical rate. Now it seems to have leveled off, especially in upper price range.

As of Monday, there were 185 houses listed in Ashland with a median asking price of &


The last couple months we've seen a seasonal slow down, said Kumro, but I think the next couple of months will tell us what direction we're going to go.

Neighboring Phoenix and Talent zones ran upstream against the slowdown in December, with sales rising 41.7 percent and the median prices jumping 44.3 percent to &


Eagle Point did the economic splits in December as the number of sales tumbled 19 percent, while the median sales price soared 46 percent over a year ago to &


East Medford's median price came in at &

36;279,950, — percent above the December 2004 mark. Activity declined 7.4 percent over the year, while in west Medford it fell 17 percent. But that side of town saw a 28 percent median price gain to &


Central Point, which saw a robust first half in 2005, concluded with four stagnant sales months and finished the year 4.4 percent behind 2004's transactions. The median sale, however, was &

36;260,000, a 15 percent price gain.

Rural home deals fell 38.4 percent in the final month of 2005, while the median price rose 41.4 percent to &


Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail Home prices high amid stagnant sales "business@mailtribune.com.