Jackson County real estate remained bullish — and Ashland remained the most expensive for home buyers — in 2017 despite another year of relatively slim offerings by sellers.
Figures released Tuesday by Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service showed the median sales price for existing single-family residences climbed 10.3 percent last year to $264,700 following a 6.6 percent bump to $239,900 in 2016. The median also surpassed the 2007 high point of $259,000 before the market collapse.
"We've had individual markets recover more than the decline in the past, but for the first time, Jackson County on average has reached that level," Rogue Valley Association of Realtors spokesman Colin Mullane said.
Ashland's median price for the 331 existing homes sold in 2017 was $421,500. Jacksonville was next at $397,000 on the sale of 75 homes. East Medford came in a distant third with a $290,000 median price on the sale of 822 homes.
Total value for local existing home sales in the county crested $1.2 billion in 2017 after hitting $1.17 billion in 2016 and $761 million in 2015.
Mullane said the median jump had more to do with what properties sold than the overall market.
"Maybe people are buying more expensive homes than they might have bought because mortgage rates are still hovering around 4 percent," Mullane said.
Although there were incrementally more houses available on the resale market in 2017, Mullane said demand could have easily pushed the 2,728 transactions past 3,000 if more homes had been available.
"There is no doubt in my mind that there are 280 buyers out there who didn't get what they were looking for last year, and even then some," Mullane said. "We could have probably sold another 500, 600, 700, 800 homes last year if the inventory was there."
Including new construction and rural property sales, SOMLS tracked 3,781 transactions in 2017. Even so, the housing stock didn't keep pace with demand.
"It's not enough," he said. "Even if 500 homes didn't go through the system, it wouldn't be enough to normalize the market."
Mullane said many real estate agents were showing homes through the holiday period.
"One guy at Coldwell Banker in Medford actually got an offer accepted on Christmas Day," he said. "We don't complain."
Five regions saw double-digit increases, led by a 23-percent leap in the Gold Hill/Rogue River area, which accounted for about 3 percent of sales. White City (17.1 percent), west Medford (14.7 percent) and Central Point (13.5 percent) saw substantial upswings.
"When you are looking at people still having to make a living and get out every day and work and raising a family, Central Point, White City and west Medford are places where you are able to buy at an affordable level," Mullane said. "In places like that, some people are willing to pay a little more because there is a lot of value for the money."
White City and Phoenix buyers tended to snap up houses very quickly. The average market time dipped to 36 days from 43 the previous year, but in White City the average time on market was 18, and in 20 in Phoenix.
"Phoenix is a nice bridge between Talent and Medford," Mullane said. "Certainly Phoenix has convenience to Medford and affordability."
Echoing what real estate economists have said, he noted 2018 will likely follow the recent trend.
"There isn't anything on the horizon that tells us that supply levels are going to return to a level where we are going to see the market change dramatically," Mullane said. "We're always prone to upsets in the market from either the stock market or interest rates. There is nothing to say from the supply side to affect demand."
Ashland remained the highest-priced market at a median of $421,500, a 7.5 percent gain, while west Medford had the lowest median of $183,500.
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.