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Home insurance rates not spiking in Josephine County

Since Josephine County lost most of its law enforcement, crime has gone up. I always thought that would affect homeowners' insurance premiums. Do you know whether insurance has gone up? Or if it has any other negative financial affect on residents? I live in Curry County, where we are facing a similar situation.

— Brandi, Brookings

One might think less law enforcement could trigger higher homeowners' insurance rates, but Hart Insurance Agent Rob Reckard, who is based in Grants Pass and works with several insurance companies, said he hasn't seen an increase.

"I have not heard from any carriers that rates are going to increase because of thefts and burglaries," Reckard said.

With dwindling federal payments that once offset the loss of shared logging revenue from federal timberland, Josephine County has less money for its sheriff's department, district attorney's office and jail. County voters have rejected tax levies to shore up county law enforcement, although the city of Grants Pass has shifted spending and added fees to help buttress the county legal system. 

As for impacts to home values, Jeff Fuhrmeister, principal broker and manager with Re/Max Ideal Brokers in Grants Pass, said he knows of only one person who specifically moved away because of crime concerns — a retired sheriff's deputy from California.

The economy seems to have more of an impact on real estate sales and the value of people's homes than fears about crime.

In 2008, Fuhrmeister said 1,800 houses were on the market in Josephine County, but now inventory has fallen to fewer than 500 houses. Local and out-of-state buyers are once again grabbing up houses, and home prices are rising, he said.

More big-box and mom-and-pop stores are opening in Grants Pass, boosting an economy that was battered during the Great Recession, Fuhrmeister said.

He said Realtors are barred from answering buyers' questions about crime and the quality of school districts. Those rules were put into effect to stop Realtors from steering people into specific neighborhoods based on race, Fuhrmeister said.

"We say contact the school district or law enforcement for information," he said.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.