Monday, September 29, 2008

Snapshot of the Real Estate Market in Southern Oregon in September 2008

  • With a market that is somewhat driven by what’s happening with our neighbors to the South of us in California, we have definitely seen the numbers slowing here in the Rogue Valley. When a percentage of our buyers can’t sell their property in California, it slows things down for us here in Jackson County and Josephine County Oregon.

    But, guess what? It appears we may be reaching a turning point here. “Yeah, right!” you might be saying, based on all the doom and gloom reporting we are seeing in the news. Here’s why I think this:

  • Inventory is contracting - Inventory of Homes for sale in Jackson County Oregon, the “hub” of Southern Oregon, has contracted three consecutive months in our year over year numbers posted at - by 16% September 1st, by 14% August 1st, and 16% July 1st. Based on the number of “Sold” signs I’m seeing as I drive around town, I’m guessing there will be a further contraction for October 1st.
  • Sales in California Up - California Buyers, including first time buyers, are taking advantage of low prices and low interest rates there, freeing up those Sellers to make their moves. Sales overall were up July 2008 for the first time in three years. Some of those Sellers will likely be moving here to Southern Oregon, the early wave of migrant homeowners to make up the 1.7 million anticipated by Oregon’s Big Look Task Force.
  • Buy while we can still get a loan – This seems to be an attitude many fence sitters have adopted, prompting them to say “good enough” to one of the criteria they have that has had them adopting their wait and see stance… wait for the price bottom, wait for the lower interest. There is no doubt we’re in a Buyer’s Market here in Southern Oregon, with motivated sellers willing to make concessions for ready, willing and able buyers. There is no doubt that underwriting guidelines for home loans are getting tougher. There is no doubt that with the failure of so many banks and mortgage companies, competition is not as prevalent as it was, which Econ 101 tells me will lead to higher pricing.

    Is it still tough out there? You bet! Are we still likely to face a few more bumps in the road? I think there will still be some hurdles to face in most real estate transactions that take place over the next year, especially with appraisals, tightening guidelines, and program eliminations. In my 25 years in this business, I've never seen buyers and property owners have to work so hard to obtain their financing, and that's saying a lot since I've been through 2 other major market cycles that had big dips. Is it a good time to buy? I’d get my checkbook out for the right deal, and put my money where my mouth is.

    See you at the closing table!

    Karen Cooper – OR/CA Mortgage Consultant –

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