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Jackson County home sales down 26% in April

Residential home sales dropped 26% in April compared to the same month last year as COVID-19 impacted the local real estate market, according to monthly figures released Wednesday by the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors.

“The 26% shows a distinct turn. What we don’t know yet is if we will see a May decline. My gut feeling is yes,” said Colin Mullane, spokesperson for the association. The information was presented in an online video press conference.

In the urban areas of the county, transactions in April were down 22%, with 318 sales in April 2019 and just 248 last month.

Sales in March were down 16% over the previous year, after increases were registered in January and February.

Medford saw an 18% decline, going from 152 sales a year ago to 124 in April of this year.

Ashland saw a drop of 41%, with 23 sales last month compared to 39 in April 2019.

The median sale price in Medford was up 12% to $324,000 compared to $290,000 last April. In Ashland the median price dropped to $470,000 from $486,000 in April 2019.

The local Realtors association transitioned to a new reporting system during April. As a result, statistics at this point don’t carry all the details that were available in previous reports. New home sales, for example, were not broken out of the numbers provided, and Medford sales weren’t reported by areas.

Consumers are still looking for houses, spurred in part by low mortgage rates, said Mullane. Fewer in-person showings are taking place, as indicated by a 49% drop in lock-box openings on homes for sale as agencies emphasize video tours.

Houses in April sold for close to their asking prices, the data show. They ranged from 99% of the listing price in Medford to 96% in Jacksonville, up one or two percent over last year’s averages for those municipalities.

About 90% of sellers typically say their prices are solid, and they usually react more slowly to news events in the market than buyers, said Mullane. For buyers it’s not unusual for 60% to think the prices are normal, while 40% may expect a bigger shift, he added.

Buyers will be testing the market to see whether sellers will come down, said Mullane. But buyers will encounter fewer homes on the market as listings are held back in this time of uncertainty.

Active listings have declined from 1,218 in April 2019 to 816 this year. Ashland had the highest decline in new listings, down 58% to 41 from 111 last April. New listings in Medford were down 25% compared to 2019.

Mullane said he doesn’t expect to see the deluge of listings that usually occur in spring.

“The real estate agents don’t have the volume of inventory to sell. Buyers will be looking to low-ball, but supply isn’t supporting the market,” said Mullane. “Now we have a lot more buyers and a lot less inventory.”

Both local and out-of-area buyers are showing more interest in rural properties, a likely response to the pandemic, said Mullane, who is also managing broker with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland. Rural sales typically account for 15% to 20% of the market.

Devin Zupan, managing broker with Windemere Van Vleet & Associates, said several clients had mentioned the desire to be in more rural settings — with potential for less exposure to COVID-19 as a factor in their considerations.

Patrick Iler, owner/broker of Patrick Iler Real Estate, also noted more interest in the rural properties, with buyers from Eugene and Northern California’s Bay Area seeking more remote locations.

New construction continues at a good pace, said Mullane. He said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown created a framework with pandemic restrictions that didn’t eliminate the housing industry.

“Builders and contractors were very quick to adapt,” said Mullane. They are pacing out work, having crews and subcontractors on site at different times to allow for social distancing. As a consequence, a build time of five to seven months may change to six to eight months, he said.

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

Residential home sales dropped 26% in April compared to the same month last year as COVID-19 impacted the local real estate market, according to monthly figures released Wednesday by the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors.