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Seller's market easing off

Jackson County existing home prices are edging toward a balance between supply and demand.

The median price on 825 sales between June 1 and Aug. 31 rose 3.8 percent to $285,000 from $275,000 according to figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

While the pace of sales grew 4.3 percent over the past three months, new listings swelled by 14.2 percent at the end of August, with 1,191 homes on the market.

The growth in listings has given buyers a bit of breathing space, said Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, who tracks activity in 10 Western states.

“By the nature of having more listings, it has a compressing effect on prices and more choices,” Gardner said. “It allows buyers not to be so frantic. If a house comes on the market, they don’t have to see it that day or lose it.”

There are fewer escalation clauses bidding up the price, he said. The average time on market for houses remained five weeks.

“We’re slowly moving to a more balanced market,” Gardner said. “With the days on market remaining remarkably steady, it indicates there is still a demand for housing. The annualized growth rate (3.8 percent) is certainly more sustainable than 7 to 10 percent because wages aren’t going up significantly to match price growth.”

The biggest year-over-year jump in median prices this summer has occurred in Phoenix (21.8 percent to $307,500) and northwest Medford (20.9 percent to $257,500).

The highest-priced communities — Ashland and Jacksonville — saw slight median declines. Ashland’s median over the past three months slipped to $437,000, a 1.2 percent drop, while Jacksonville’s median fell 2.3 percent to $420,000. During August, however, the median sales point in Jacksonville was $540,000.

Gardner cautioned that homeowners thinking they can still name their price likely will be disappointed.

“Their expectations are higher than reality,” he said. “Homeowners need to be more aware of what their house is reasonably worth. It doesn’t meant they’ve lost money. It means the money was never there in the first place.”

Along with expanding options, mortgage interest rates are playing a role in curbing rising prices. Mortgage rates zipped up in the past year, but have leveled off.

“The trend is certainly moving higher,” Gardner said. “But 5 percent mortgages are a 2019, not a 2018, story.”

Guy Giles, producing branch manager at Bank 34 in Medford, said interest rates have people’s attention.

“They do feel a sense of urgency to lock in rates at some point fairly soon,” Giles said. “It’s certainly on people’s minds. For a couple of weeks, there wasn’t a lot of activity, then last week it went crazy.”

The median price for a rural home in Jackson County was unchanged from last year at $400,000. A total of 159 rural homes sold during the quarter, with an average of 97 days on market.

Gardner said in-migration will continue to fuel sales in the Rogue Valley.

“People will move out of the Silicon Valley and other parts of California,” he said. “The California economy will likely underperform in 2019 in terms of job growth, but it will still outperform Oregon and Washington. Home prices in Washington and Oregon are still at a substantial discount to that of the Bay Area.”

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at #GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

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