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Median house price hits $300,000 in Jackson County

The median home sales price climbed to $300,000 in Jackson County during the period of Dec. 1, 2019, through Feb. 29 of this year — up from $277,750 for the same time period in 2018-19.

Prices in the county have shot up from $209,000 in 2015, according to statistics from the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

The continued escalation of prices is good news for homeowners and sellers, but it poses challenges for entry-level buyers.

Buyers who qualify for a mortgage are getting some relief with the average interest rate for a 30-year mortgage falling to a record low of 3.29% this week. Lower interest rates translate into lower monthly mortgage payments.

“Interest rates are helping people who are qualified,” said Scott Lewis, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate in Ashland.

While prices are up overall since 2019, prices fluctuate among cities in Jackson County.

Ashland, long one of the most expensive places to live in Southern Oregon, saw median prices drop from $423,000 to $409,275 from the same period a year ago.

“In Ashland right now there are actually more homes available,” Lewis said. “That’s putting a little bit of downward pressure on prices. Ashland frequently leads the way in price changes.”

Scott said decent houses below $250,000 are virtually impossible to find in Ashland, but there is inventory in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range.

Lewis said he doesn’t think the median price drop in Ashland is a sign the real estate market is headed for a downturn.

Regardless of economic fluctuations, Lewis said, the population of the Rogue Valley is expected to continue to grow over the long-term — creating continued demand for housing.

“That boosts the odds for appreciation,” he said.

Oregon’s strict land-use laws will constrain rural development, and the area’s quality of life will continue to attract new residents, Scott said.

In Talent, median prices remained flat at $298,500.

Prices dipped in Phoenix from $285,000 to $275,000.

Jacksonville, another pricey town in the Rogue Valley, saw prices fall from $514,988 to $430,000 in the most recent period compared to a year ago.

Lewis said houses that are far outside Jacksonville’s city limits are included in those figures, so they don’t necessarily reflect what is going on in the town itself.

In west Medford, the most affordable section of the city, prices climbed from $200,000 to $229,000.

Northwest Medford climbed from $252,400 to $264,500, and prices were also up from $260,000 to $288,500 in southwest Medford.

East Medford saw a dip from $300,000 to $297,750.

Central Point topped the county median, going from $265,000 to $302,750.

White City saw prices creep up from $230,000 to $234,000.

Eagle Point’s numbers rose from $263,000 to $295,000.

The Shady Cove and Trail areas saw a big rise, from $268,000 to $314,950. The small number of houses changing hands there can cause swings in median prices.

The smaller housing market in the Gold Hill and Rogue River area also saw a rise, from $223,250 to $247,500.

In Jackson County as a whole, the number of existing houses sold in urban areas rose to 518 from 492 in the same period of 2018-19, according to Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service statistics.

The average number of days houses spent on the market inched down from 52 days to 49 days.

For people wanting to buy, Scott recommended getting qualified in advance for a home loan. Consider what you can actually afford, which may be lower than the amount a lender offers.

Scott said many houses are selling at 97%-98% of their list price, so making a low offer on a reasonably priced house could mean missing out.

“If it’s priced right, you need to come on strong,” he said.

On the other hand, if a house has been on the market for a long time, it may have problems or be overpriced — opening the door for haggling, Scott said.

In Josephine County, the median urban house price rose to $250,000 during the period. That compares to $241,700 a year ago, according to the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

Five years ago, the median urban house price was $182,000 in Josephine County.

Southeast Grants Pass had the highest prices, growing from $272,000 to $290,000.

Median home prices in the Illinois Valley, including Cave Junction, fell from $177,500 to $170,000.

Low interest rates have perked up sales in recent months in Southern Oregon, leading to a drop in the number of houses on the market, said Kurt Heater, a broker and owner of Team Heater, which is part of John L. Scott Real Estate Grants Pass.

Buyers should get set up to receive electronic alerts when houses come on the market so they can act quickly, he advised.

“Being the first one there can make a difference,” Heater said. “Six or seven years ago, there was lots of inventory. Things are different now. If you find something, don’t wait thinking that it will still be there.”

He said there is strong demand for housing and limited supply. Compared to the past, banks are less willing to lend to developers.

“The ones who are building are largely doing self-funding or they have good resources. We’re playing catch-up. As a nation, the population continues to grow,” Heater said.

He advised sellers to get professional advice to price a house. Pricing too low yields less money, while pricing too high means a house can sit on the market.

“Even though there’s a lack of inventory, buyers have access to so much information that they know when it’s overpriced,” Heater said. “If you overshoot and your house is on the market for a lot of days, buyers start to worry that something is wrong with it.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneHouse for sale on Spring Valley Drive in Medford.