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June 3, 2013
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Douglas County real estate housing market slowly improving

If you have a Douglas County house for sale and it’s priced under $200,000, you shouldn’t have to wait long for a sale.

If your house is listed at more than $300,000, and especially more than $500,000, you better have some patience.

That summarizes statements from several real estate brokers who deal with the Douglas County housing market. In addition, the brokers agreed that business in the area has perked up a bit in recent months.

“Our market is probably the best it’s been since 2006,” said David Stribling, broker with Prudential Real Estate. “Business is up for all the Realtors.”

Janet McNown of Integrity Team Real Estate said people are starting to have more confidence in the housing market and that the negativity that built up toward home ownership in the last five years is easing. Neil Hummel of Century 21 The Neil Company Real Estate said people are more confident in the economy and interest rates are low.

“There’s a pent-up demand for houses,” Hummel said.

Hummel said a house in Winston was recently put on the market in the morning at $159,500. The asking price was offered that afternoon and the sale was closed a couple weeks later. Victoria Hawks of Hawks & Co. Realtors said a Green house was listed on a Tuesday afternoon and it was shown to prospective buyers the next day.

“Business has picked up since the first of the year, mainly because we have more prospective buyers,” Hawks said. “They’re calling, they’re dropping in. They’re making more offers than had been previously presented.”

The average sales price for houses in the first four months of 2013 was $148,100. Those buyers have either been first-time homeowners, people who lost their homes during the recent recession or investors who want to fix up a house for resale or to make it a rental. Most of those buyers and investors are from the area.

However, the average sales price of the 73 sales closed in April was $163,800, indicating a gradual increase. There were another 116 sales pending in that month.

At the other extreme, only six houses sold for more than $500,000 in the county in 2012.

“Those homes have to be priced pretty competitively to be sold,” said Jody Tatone of ReMax Professional Realty. “The more expensive they are, the harder it is to sell them. Over $400,000, the market starts to slow.”

Karen Volk of Karen Volk Realty said the number of riverfront homes and property listings is as high as she’s seen it in her 23 years in the business. She said those listings usually run from $300,000 to $500,000.

The brokers said the buyers of the higher-priced houses have usually been from out of the area. They said the California housing market has been much improved and people selling homes there look to Oregon to retire. They added, however, that people from the Midwest and Southwest have also been inquiring about housing in Douglas County.

“In 2006 and 2007, there was a big influx of Californians coming to Oregon,” McNown said. “That’s starting to happen again, people are migrating north again. They want out of the congested California arena.”

The sales pitch that is used by the brokers for this area is its mild climate and clean air, the Umpqua River system, its location on Interstate 5, the outdoor recreational opportunities between the coast and the Cascade Mountains, the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Community Cancer Center, and the affordability of housing and property. They prices are not as high as in Lane County (Eugene and Springfield) to the north and Jackson County (Medford and Ashland) to the south. Stribling said he read a report six months ago about areas where house prices had increased the most, and Medford and Eugene were on that nationwide list.

“It costs considerably more money to live in Eugene than in Roseburg,” Stribling said.

The brokers said that with the increase in prospective buyers has come multiple bids on houses. They said that hasn’t been the norm for several years. Hawks said she knew of two recent cases where there were multiple offers and the agreed upon sales price was a little more than the asking price. Prior to the recent housing recovery, when it was more of a buyers’ market, offers below the asking price were most common.

“Competing offers on property is a good sign,” McNown said. “My only word of caution is we don’t want a repeat of what happened several years ago when property went up too quickly and then didn’t hold.

“My advice to sellers who aren’t getting a sale is, don’t fire the Realtor and ask for a different one, but rather ask for a pricing analysis,” she added. “My job is to educate clients on the real value of their property.”

Stribling made the same point.

“The key to real estate is to price it at market value,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it, it’s only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it and whether they can get a loan for it. Pricing it at market value is the best way to get a buyer.”

The brokers said as long as the interest rate on housing loans doesn’t tick up much more than a point, if that, from the present 3.5 to 4 percent, the county housing market should remain active through the summer and fall.

“I’m optimistic things are going to get better and better from here on out,” Tatone said.

“If you’re in the market to purchase a home, you better pull the trigger,” Hummel said. “We’re seeing an increase in the average sales price. Houses are still a very good investment.”

• News-Review business reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at creed@nrtoday.com.

If you’re in the market to purchase a home, you better pull the trigger.

Neil Hummel, Century 21 The Neil Hummel Co. Real Estate


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The News-Review Updated Jun 21, 2013 11:00AM Published Jul 15, 2013 03:53PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.