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Low interest rates drive Jackson County real estate rebound

Historically low interest rates helped produce more sales in July than a year ago in Jackson County, local Realtors say.

Rogue Valley Association of Realtors figures for the month show a rebound in most statistics after concerns about the pandemic slowed sales earlier in the year.

In July, 408 houses sold compared to 370 in July 2019, a 10% increase. In addition, 479 pending sales were reported July 31, compared to 379 a year ago.

“Lower interest rates are still contributing to the amount of purchasing power that people have at this time,” said Cheryl Faria, a principal broker with Windermere Van Vleet in Medford and past president of the association.

A lot of what is happening is “the move around,” with people looking for new homes and discovering they have more equity in their current residences coupled with increased purchasing power, said Faria. They may look for a $350,000 home instead of one at $300,000.

Interest rates are now below 3%, said Collin Mullane with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland.

“It is without a shadow of a doubt interest rates. We are talking the lowest interest in the history of real estate,” said Mullane. “Folks understand how the interest rates have moved in their favor and allow them to make a purchase.”

Home prices rose in July, with a median sale price of $355,000 county-wide compared to $313,700 a year earlier, up 13%. Total dollar volume of sales topped $158.9 million, up 22% from last year.

While the COVID-19 pandemic led to sales declines and drops in listing numbers earlier in the year, sellers are now beginning to place more inventory on the market, although the number of houses for sale at the end of July was down 49% to 548 units. New listings in July totaled 453, 4% below the number a year ago.

“Some sellers have a greater confidence level with placing their home on the market. A lot of them leave booties, a lot have sanitizer bottles. Clients are really good about not touching surfaces if inside,” said Mullane.

Agents are mirroring what clients want, including having potential buyers fill out health questionnaires before touring a home, said Faria.

“We were never not considered essential workers. We have learned to adapt. We all have masks. We bring sanitizer. We are just asking to not have people touch,” said Faria. “We never really shut down.”

A new category of out-of-area buyers may be emerging, said Mullane. They are people who started working at home when the pandemic struck and found they could continue to do so and move to a new area. Historically many out-of-area buyers have been retirees. Both groups tend to favor locating in Ashland, Jacksonville and east Medford, he said.

Areas that saw largest increases in sales included Ashland, up 50% with 66 transactions, Jacksonville up 46% with 19 sales, and Central Point up 38% with 58 sales. Medford sales dropped from 174 to 157.

East Medford continues to be consistently strong, said Faria. Sales numbers there for May, June and July were down to 201 units from 271 in 2019, but the median sales price for July was $343,000 compared to $312,500 a year earlier.

Competition is intense for houses from $250,000 to $350,000 said Faria. She encourages buyers to put in offers on homes in that range even if there is already an offer in place on a particular property.

The median sales price of rural homes for the year in Jackson County was $480,000, a 12% increase over 2019 figures. In May, June and July, 194 rural homes sold.

The number of sales in the county overall was down 10% in June, 45% in May and 22% in April compared to the same months in 2019.

“It’s been quite exceptional despite the shortage of inventory,” Mullane said. “It’s got us closer to normal.”

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Figures from a national real estate tracking company suggest the Medford area should have the second biggest gain in housing values in the nation over the next five years, which would be good news for the owners of several homes currently for sale on Creek View Drive.