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Real estate listings down a lot, but prices, sales up

Listings of homes for sale in Jackson County cities were down nearly two-thirds at the end of October from the number available at the same time last year. People burned out in the Almeda fire are looking for houses, and COVID-19 virus concerns have affected the market.

There’s probably less than a 30-day supply of homes available at current sales rates, said Scott Lewis with John L. Scott in Ashland. At the same time, median sales prices were up double digits, and total sales eclipsed 2019 figures for the August through October period, he noted.

“The numbers are bonkers. That’s simple supply and demand. Obviously, it’s a good time to be a home seller,” said Lewis. “A home in decent condition that is priced right is going to sell for 99% or 100% of its listing price.”

Sellers appear to be holding homes off the market due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Colin Mullane, spokesman for the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors, which compiles the statistics.

“There is just noting out there. Homes are going immediately. There are multiple offers. It’s as close as possible to getting to zero inventory,” said Mullane, broker with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland. Of homes on the market at the end of October, 126 were in rural areas, leaving just around 180 for sale in urban settings.

Median price for 13 urban areas was $334,500 during the period compared to $300,000 in 2019, an 11.5% increase. There were 808 sales versus 769 a year ago, a 5.1% increase. Days on the market dropped from 50 in 2019 to 38 this year. Countywide there were 314 homes for sale Oct. 31, a drop of 65% compared to the 902 on the same day in 2019.

Both Phoenix and Talent lost hundreds of stick-built homes and even more manufactured homes. Realtors do not handle transactions in mobile home parks, which require a special license.

“Anecdotally, a lot of folks who lost their homes are looking to get back into Talent or Phoenix,” said Mullane, who has closed several sales for people returning. “I think there is probably an emotional connection to the towns that they are feeling. People are wanting to look and find something in their town or nearby.”

Home inventories in Phoenix and Talent are both down. Talent showed a 90.5% decrease from 2019 to just two homes available Oct. 31. Phoenix was down 76.5% with just four homes available. Realtors lost about 10% of the listings available in September due to the Almeda and Oberchain fires.

Lewis has buyers who were burned out looking in Phoenix but also considering other locations in the valley. A buildable lot in Talent has drawn multiple offers, he said.

“All price brackets are in short supply. Inventory was not great before (the fire). We know that it’s going to remain low,” said Lewis. Demand may slacken a bit when fire victims make permanent living arrangements, he said.

Persistence pays off for buyers who need to be prepared with preapproved loan funds and a willingness to write an offer when they see something they like, said Lewis. “You don’t have the luxury of sleeping on it overnight.”

Out-of-town buyer interest did not appear to be affected by the Almeda fire, said Mullane. Many of those buyers are looking for quality of life in the area and may be coming from communities which face similar fire risks.

Sellers are holding homes off the market for several reasons, said Mullane. Heath concerns about COVID is one reason, with people reluctant to have visitors touring a house. Others may be waiting to see if the market will go even higher. A third factor is strong buyer demand, making it harder for sellers to find new locations.

New home sales showed substantial growth with a 32.7% increase over 2019, with total sales of 142. East Medford topped the list with 57 sales, while Eagle Point registered 17 and Ashland had 16. Median price for a new home was $372,250 compared to $358,684 in 2019, a 3.8% increase.

New home sales this year should be between 300 and 400 units, said Mullane, an increase over recent years. But that may slow somewhat in the future, he thinks, because contractors will be involved with rebuilding homes lost in the Almeda fire.

Median existing home prices rose in all urban areas except Ashland, which experienced a 1.7% decline to $467,000. Highest median price was Jacksonville at $484,000 while the lowest was west Medford at $245,000. The urban statistics include four areas in Medford and combine Gold Hill and Rogue River.

Jackson County rural home sales saw a slight decrease in numbers from 190 last year to 185 this year for August through October. Median price of a rural home rose 18.3% from $465,000 to $550,000 this year.

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

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA new under construction Thursday in Central Point.