Home sales in Ashland are still lagging behind those in the rest of the county as buyers snap up distressed properties instead of more upscale homes.

Home sales in Ashland are still lagging behind those in the rest of the county as buyers snap up distressed properties instead of more upscale homes.

Existing home sales in Ashland fell 5.8 percent over the 90-day period ending Aug. 31, as compared to the same period last year, while existing home sales countywide rose 26.9 percent, according to a report released by the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors on Friday.

"I think that is an indicator of the type of housing you have in Ashland," said Steve Blanton, CEO of the association. "You have typically higher-end homes there and we usually start to see recovery in first-time homebuyers and then it moves up."

Other cities in the county have more homes that are in foreclosure or are bank-owned, driving down prices and making them more affordable for new homeowners, he said.

Only eight distressed properties in Ashland sold during June, July and August, while 142 sold in Medford alone, according to the association.

"You haven't had the down slope there (in Ashland) that you've had in other places," Blanton said.

Still, the median price of existing homes sold in Ashland remains below what it was a year ago.

The median sale price for the 90-day period ending Aug. 31 was $328,500 — 15.5 percent below the $388,800 median during the same period last year, according to the association.

But the median sale price for existing homes is still above the $313,500 it was five years ago.

"If you look at it from five years ago, you still are pretty much ahead of where you were then," Blanton said. "If you're living in the home long-term, then it's a great investment for you."

Existing homes in Ashland this summer sat on the market for about as long as they did in 2008. During June, July and August, homes were on the market for an average of 127 days this year and 121 days last year.

Blanton said he couldn't predict when the market may turn around in Ashland, saying it depends on the number of factors, including when incentives for first-time homebuyers and distressed properties become harder to come by.

"My crystal ball's pretty foggy tonight," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.