Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Rain dims sales, but housing prices stay high

By GREG STILES

Mail Tribune (Oregon)

Rainy weather put a dent in Jackson County’s blue-sky housing prices as the wettest October in the past 25 years helped slow real estate activity.

Sales prices for single-family residences in urban areas, however, continued on a relentless upward course, rising 16 percent from a similar period in 2003. The county’s median price — half of the homes selling for more and half for less — rose to $207,000 in October.

The county has seen 630 new-home sales — out of 2,714 overall — through the first 10 months, a 9 percent gain over 2003. The median price for new construction is $218,233, or 18 percent higher than a year earlier.

Sales in spendy Ashland hit a median of $323,000, but the appreciation rate slowed to 13 percent, compared to 16 percent countywide.

In Eagle Point, the median was $217,000, 31 percent ahead of last year. But the fastest-growing city in the county has witnessed a decline in the number of sales compared to 2003 for the past three months.

"It tells me, although the bubble didn’t pop, we’ve had a moderate market correction, a leveling off," says Medford real estate appraiser Roy Wright, who tracks local sales. "It’s nothing to panic over, but if someone is selling right now, they better be aware of it."

Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service statistics show houses that actually sell go for 98 percent of the asking price and leave the market within 48 days. Overpriced residences tend to hang around for well over 100 days.

"There are a lot of people listing their houses with an attitude that ‘If you will give me this much, I’ll take it,’ " Wright says. "Although the median sales price for the county is $207,000, the median asking price is $299,900. Is someone dreaming?

"If you look at all the days on market, you know with some houses out there that they’re asking totally ridiculous prices."

While east Medford’s median price rose 16 percent to $230,001, sales activity remained flat last month and trails 2003 by 4.6 percent.

Buyers found west Medford and Central Point prices more attractive. West Medford transactions increased by 39 percent as median prices climbed by 17 percent to $175,100. Central Point’s activity picked up 29 percent, while the median sales point rose 13 percent to $190,000.

Jacksonville, topped only by Ashland, saw its median price rise 14.3 percent to $320,000 in October. The pace of sales remained flat, with 43 transferring hands through October, compared to 42 in 2003.

Eagle Point homes’ days on the market dipped to 73 from 114 a year earlier. Ashland days on market rose to 73 from 59. That means houses in both locales remain on the market nearly a month longer than the county average.

Inventories in the major sales areas are up 35 percent and 24 percent countywide.

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