While home buyers are biding their time, sellers are hunkering down for the holidays.

While home buyers are biding their time, sellers are hunkering down for the holidays.

So even as the Jackson County real estate market enters the typical winter doldrums, the number of single-family residences up for sale dwindled 8.3 percent from this time last year to 1,971 units.

"That's something we've all been watching," said Colin Mullane of Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland and a Rogue Valley Association of Realtors board member. "A lot of people who are wanting to sell their houses realize this is not the time to sell."

Although October's countywide median price of $183,750 gained over the $180,000 figure in 2009, according to figures compiled by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service, the broader three-month period tracked by the organization showed a 10.6 percent decline in the median price to $165,000 from $184,500 a year earlier.

Unless there are lifestyle issues or job change, there isn't much incentive for an individual homeowner to put a house on the market.

"A lot of people will take their house off the market for the holidays and then put it back on during the spring and see what kind of buyer demand there is then," Mullane said. "Obviously banks don't make those kinds of decisions, and they have a high percentage of the houses out there."

White City, west Medford and Phoenix saw the sharpest drop in value over the past 12 months, while Jacksonville, east Medford, Gold Hill and Rogue River were the most resilient in keeping their value.

"Ashland and east Medford homes have sold for marginally more than they did a year ago the last few months as opposed to Talent and west Medford," Mullane said. "Talent's drop-off hasn't been Talent's fault, it's just that Ashland has become more affordable. In the past, people were moving to Talent because Ashland wasn't affordable; now the prices have come down."

Without the first-time-buyer credits that were fueling sales a year ago, west Medford, Central Point and White City are slowing, he said. "But the bargains are still there."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.