Rogue Valley population grows, but housing doesn’t

December 19, 2016 GMT

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Jackson County has experienced a population boom, but the housing market hasn’t kept up.

The census shows that the southern Oregon county’s population reached 200,000 in 2008 and interim estimates place the current population at close to 215,000, reported The Mail Tribune (http://bit.ly/2hADGgG ).

Meanwhile, the number of houses available for sale in the county declines monthly, the median price for existing homes is up and the rental market is tighter than ever. Building permit numbers are slightly higher than in the past, but nowhere near the levels seen before the real estate bubble burst.

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“I have conversations with first-time homebuyers that have lived their whole life here,” said Colin Mullane, spokesman for the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors. “They know the market is tight, but they don’t know yet what that means.”

The problem goes beyond a lack of affordable housing, said Medford Planning Commission member Tim D’Alessandro.

“I don’t know if there is a magic bullet to resolve this issue,” said D’Alessandro, who will join the City Council next month. “We need to stop simply looking at affordable housing and look at available housing. When it comes to rental housing, there is less than 2 percent vacancy. Our housing is just not adequate to keep up with the demand, not even close. When you have two-income couples that have the resources to rent a place, but can’t find it because it just doesn’t exist, that’s something we have to deal with.”

The number of homes for sale “fluctuates from month to month, but it’s been in general decline,” said Loran Hughes, who assesses housing availability monthly for Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service and the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors.

The available home inventory peaked in August 2007 at 3,061, according to the SOMLS system. There were 792 listings on Nov. 30.

The city council approved an urban growth boundary expansion proposal in August. The policy would provide room for residential and business development during the next 20 years and is expected to be reviewed by the Planning Commission in January before going to county and state leaders for final approval.

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“You never know how long it will take to go through the process,” said Kelly Akin, Medford’s interim planning director. She said the policy could also be appealed by environmental groups who oppose the boundary expansion or landowners who weren’t included.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/