Busy housing market pushes local prices up again

The relentless flow of newcomers from the Golden State continues to feed Jackson County's real estate market.

A nearly 20-percent jump over the past three months in residential transactions propelled the median price for existing homes to $225,000, or 9.8 percent higher than it was a year ago, according to figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service. 

"My understanding is that the market is still solid down there right now," said Jacqui Robbins, principal broker at Finish Line Real Estate in Medford. "If it's going well in Southern California, they're still coming to Southern Oregon."

Whether from Orange County, Redwood City, east of the Rockies or local environs, buyers showed up ready to deal between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, triggering 661 deals, up from 556 a year ago. New home sales also were up, although a significant inventory of new construction doesn't pass through the MLS system. Rural transactions rose 12 percent, as well, with the median price rising 9.2 percent to $315,500.

"It's the law of supply and demand," Robbins said. "Right now there is no place to rent, so the price keeps going up."

Cold, wet days haven't kept buyers from their appointed rounds, she said.

"The weather has not been conducive to real estate," Robbins said. "But it's still happening. Buyers are more driven to get into a house before January, because who knows what's going to happen with interest rates. Right now, you can't turn on the radio or TV without hearing Quicken or someone pitching the lowest rates in the world; everybody wants to help you get into a house."

There were 943 houses for sale Monday, 18.7 percent below the end of November 2014. As long as there are more buyers than sellers, prices will creep up.

The post recession barrier moved from $150,000 to $200,000 and now is trending higher.

"It's hard to find clean, livable homes under $200,000 in a desirable area, and that's pushing up to $300,000," said Ron Galbreath, an agent with Coldwell Bank Pro West Real Estate in Medford.

But there is an element of compression because not nearly as many buyers are looking at homes above $500,000 as there were a decade ago.

"You don't have the demand at the upper end," Galbreath said. "We have a very good supply of upper-end homes, but not as many willing buyers."

As the scarcity of inventory heightens, it applies pressure to the new-home market.

"There is a $275,000 cap for first-time new home buyers using FHA loans," Galbreath said. "So when you think new construction costing about $300,000, you're looking at a house between 1,300 and 1,500 square feet. The cost per square foot has shot way up."

 Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

 

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