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Local home buyers can afford to wait

There were 200 more houses on the market in Jackson County at the end of May than a year ago, but figures show a minimal increase in the number of existing home sales from March through May compared to the same time in 2018.

Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service reports for March 31 to May 31 show 1,217 houses on the market compared to 985 the same time last year. The figures cover all of Jackson County. Sales for both urban and rural areas totaled 897 homes for March through May 2019 compared to 887 for the same period in 2018.

Concerns about smoky skies potentially impacting sales may have prompted some people to list earlier than in previous years. Both 2017 and 2018 summers saw forest fire smoke choke the valley.

“There’s speculation that some sellers are deciding to place their own homes on the market due to smoke issues. That may be part of it,” said Colin Mullane, spokesman for the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors and an agent with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland. “Maybe part of it is just people considering the market is holding, maybe cashing out before there’s a turn in directions.”

There’s a seven- to eight-month supply of homes now, up from four to five months last year, said Mullane.

“You are seeing buyers having more homes to choose from,” said Mullane. “They don’t have to buy now or lose out. Over the past several years, that was part of the decision matrix. Now buyers are holding back. They’re saying, ‘I’m going to wait a little longer and maybe my perfect house will show up.’ ”

Mullane said trends here mirror what is happening nationally in real estate. It’s no longer a sellers’ market with multiple offers coming in on properties when they are listed.

The median sales price for existing homes in the county’s urban areas was up 3.1% for the latest three months to $285,500 compared to $278,000 in 2018. Rural sales, which totaled 133 compared to 210 last year, saw falling prices, down 4.7% to $375,000 from $383,500 in 2018. During the three-month period, the number of days houses spent on the market increased from 35 in 2018 to 44 in 2019 in the urban areas.

Mullane advises sellers to price homes realistically in the market rather than attempting to get a higher amount. Buyers have the opportunity to look at other comparable homes, so they know what is being charged, he said.

“Buyers become the experts in their marketplace. By the time they make their purchase ... they have done the research,” said Mullane.

Ashland, Phoenix, northwest Medford, southwest Medford, Central Point, Eagle Point, White City and Gold Hill/Rogue River all saw declines in number of sales for existing homes. Increased sales were registered in Talent, Jacksonville, west Medford and east Medford, while Shady Cove/Trail remained even.

East Medford saw sales of existing homes increase from 204 to 206, and sales of new homes increased from 23 to 42. West Medford sales of existing homes jumped from 39 to 62, while new home sales increased from one to four.

Jacksonville saw the largest price gains, with a 14.9 percent increase to a median of $520,000 on 13 sales, compared to a median price of $452,450 last year on 10 sales for the March-through-May period. The second-biggest increase was recorded in Ashland, up 9.2 percent to a median of $475,000.

The largest declines in sale prices occurred in northwest Medford, where median prices dropped 7.1% to $223,400, and in Talent, where prices dropped 5.3% to $284,000.

New home sales in urban areas rose from 82 last year to 101 during the three-month period this year, with the median price going from $331,000 to $358,775.

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

Mail Tribune file photo