Where There is Smoke There Isn’t Always Fire!

  A lot of outdoor enjoyment was lost last summer due to the smoke filled skies in our valley, but what is noteworthy is how few homes have been destroyed by forest fires in Southern Oregon compared to the homes lost by fires in California. Every summer we have many lighting caused fires, causing hundreds of acres to burn but very few homes are ever destroyed.

  This is not the case in California where every fire seems to be becoming larger and more devastating than the last. None has had such a direct effect on Southern Oregon as the November 8th Camp fire that destroyed nearly 12,000 homes and 500 businesses in the Northern California town of Paradise. This sleepy town was a lower-income, retiree-based city with a population just over 26,000 tucked into the Sierra foothills at 2,000 feet elevation. Now that the town, homes and businesses are gone, the future of Paradise is unclear and there is a mass relocation movement headed north. Most of California is too expensive for retirees, so moving a couple hours north to Southern Oregon makes a lot of sense; our valley has a similar feel with the mountains, small towns, and outdoor living.  We have been filling our rental homes and furnished rentals with Paradise refugees who need a place to land and restart their lives. Some have already received insurance checks and are looking to purchase a home, but many are still waiting, which makes it really hard to start over without means.

  It’s heart-warming to welcome the Paradise refugees to their new home in our valley, but it’s also heart-wrenching to hear their stories of loss of friends, pets, personal property and losing their sense of home. One couple in a furnished rental is busy populating the bookshelves with an old book collection saved from the fires. They lost many of their personal belongings, but managed to save some prized books. Another refugee asked for a rental home that is “secluded where no one could hear her cry”.  Many of the new refugees have owned their own homes for years and not rented since they were in their teens, so they are unfamiliar with the process and the cost. There are heartwarming stories as well, such as one couple’s neighbor that went back to her burned out home every day to see if her dog had returned, and then finally, he came walking out of the woods to a tearful reunion.

  If you run into a Paradise refugee, make sure you welcome them with open arms knowing what they have been through and what they have lost. Knowing them makes me feel grateful that I have all my family, friends, pets, and possessions intact. I also feel grateful to our local fire-fighters who have kept our homes safe, year after year – please keep up the good work!

– Graham Farran

New Movie Was Filmed in the Applegate Valley

Ashland based Producers, Gary & Anne Lundgren comment on the filming of the movie “The Upside”, a newer release which was filmed, in part, in the Applegate Valley.
 
A remake of the successful French film, “The Intouchables”, Brian Cranston stars as a billionaire who is struggling with depression after an accident leaves him crippled.

Click below to read the full Mail Tribune article

2018 The Story Of Two Housing Markets

As we look at the year-end housing numbers in Jackson County, they look very strong but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We ended 2018 by increasing the median price on existing home sales by approximately 6%, new home prices approximately 11%, rural home prices rose about 5% and lots and land prices remained about the same as 2017 prices. At the same time, the number of homes sold (existing, new & rural) fell in 2018 by less than 2%.

The other part of the story is that Jackson County was on its way in 2018 to having a record year in both increases of home prices and homes sales, then summer hit and we saw a shift in the market. The majority of homes were selling within 30 days and then wildfire smoke, rising interest rates, stock market woes and growing consumer uncertainty all led to a softening of demand. The second half of 2018 saw home sales decline from the previous year and time on the market increase. Here are some highlights for Jackson County real estate in 2018.
Jackson County home sales totaled $1.2 Billion
Median price of an existing home increased to $280,000
Home prices went up 6.1% on existing homes and sales went up 1%
Home prices went up 11.5% on new homes and sales went down by 15%
Home prices went up 5.3% on rural homes and sales went down by 6%
Lot/land prices went up 4% and sales went down by 29%

Another interesting highlight is that Jacksonville beat out Ashland as the highest priced properties in Jackson County. The median price of a home in Jacksonville is now $479,900, up 21% from 2017, while Ashland is at $432,000, only up 3.2% from 2017. Jacksonville saw the majority of homes sell in the $300,000 – $500,000 range.

So, what’s in store for the real estate market in 2019? Great question, but if you look at the 4th quarter of 2017 it may give you an idea. In the last 3 months of the year, home sales went down about 12% but home prices continued to increase by 6% pushing the median home price to $296,000 for the quarter. Factors that will affect the market in 2019 are interest rates, demand, inventory, and consumer confidence. While interest rates have risen in 2018, the rate at which they are increasing is likely to decline as the Federal Reserve is reacting to mixed economic factors, great employment, growth in GDP, declining home sales and a volatile stock market. Inventory while low in the winter, is up about 20% higher than the same time last year, so come spring, we predict buyers will have a great selection of homes for sale, although inventory may still be a little low. Demand is the key, and another smoked filled summer can put a damper on our growth; but, recent job numbers state that Jackson county has had a 15.4% increase in employment over the past five years adding 13,000 jobs. Add to our internal growth the increasing inbound migration from escapees and retirees from all over and 2019 should see home prices continue to raise modestly as they have done for seven years straight, and home sales should stabilize to a modest growth rate.

Future-Proof Your Kitchen!

The median price of remodeling a kitchen is $60,000. So how do you make sure the changes you make now won’t look dated in a few years?

Here are some ideas to future-proof your kitchen – even just one could save you a bundle in the future!

Image courtesy of car.org

Summer Smoke Hits Higher End Homes Hard

In an article two months ago, we talked about how the real estate market was being negatively affected by the smoke and repeated closures of interstate 5. Now that summer has ended, we can look back and survey the actual effect the fires had on our summer home sales.

Since 2013, the real estate market in Jackson County has seen year over year growth in both the price of homes and the number of homes sold. 2018 will most likely be no different, except that the pace of growth will be slowed down due to poor summer sales. If you look at this summer’s sales, July 1st through September 30th, the number of homes sold decreased by almost 15% compared to last summer. The decrease came in the higher end real estate markets, mainly Jacksonville, Ashland and East Medford. These are areas of higher end homes that cater heavily to out of state buyers. Jacksonville was the worst hit with 46% less homes sold this summer than last summer. Not everyone saw home sales decline as we had very healthy increases in homes sales in West Medford, South West Medford and areas of lower priced homes catering more to the local buyers.

Home prices this summer increased an average of 4.5% over last summer. This number represents one of the lowest increases we have seen in a while and, again, areas of more expensive homes were harder hit, some seeing a price decline. The median price of homes in Jacksonville fell by 4.1%, Ashland fell by .6%, and East Medford increased by only 3.4%. In areas of lower priced homes, we saw some drastic price increases this summer with North West Medford increasing by 25.5%, West Medford increased by 16.2% and White City increased by 9.2%. The overall median price of a home in Jackson County has increased over 43% the last 5 years and is currently at an all-time high of $290,000, with it likely to hit $300,000 by the end of the year.

To sum it up in one sentence, this summer brought increased home sales and higher prices for lower priced homes and lower prices and lower sales of higher priced homes. The local home buyer continued to shop for homes but, by all accounts, the out of state buyers chose to stay home.

The question now is how quickly the higher end housing market will recover from a smoke filled summer. We hope there isn’t much long term effect to our market but we do know some of our clients have decided to retire in other areas with fewer forest fires. We also are seeing some first time home buyers that are getting squeezed out of the housing market by rising interest rates.

On a positive note, the economy is doing well, our area is growing in population, we have full employment, and 10,000 baby boomers are hitting the retirement age of 65 every day. Many of these retirees are deciding to retire to areas outside of where they are currently living that are less crowded, less expensive, and offer more activities. Southern Oregon is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the exploding number of retirees, as long as we can curb the fires.