At least in the eyes of one economist, who is a member of the California Treasurer’s economic advisory council and who appears on CNN, Southern Oregon and the upper reaches of Northern California are among the last bastions of affordable housing on the West Coast. “You look across the West and how overpriced things are, and people are looking for a West Coast experience that they can still afford,” Christopher Thornberg said. “And this is it.” Thornberg, director of the University of California-Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecast and Development, addressed a Chamber Forum audience at Rogue Valley Country Club Monday, saying there will be more people discovering the region. “True Northern California — not the Bay Area — and Southern Oregon is the last hump, and people realize this,” Thornberg said. “I met someone from California this morning, and they’re moving up from the Bay Area.” If for no other reasons, the astronomical cost of housing in the Bay Area and Seattle makes places like Jackson County attractive.
The median price — half selling for more and half for less — in San Jose is $1.4 million. “Do you know what a median priced house in San Jose looks like?” Thornberg queried his audience. “It’s a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, slab ranch sitting on about a 5,000-square-foot lot. It’s not a happy place right now; that’s what happens when you don’t build. “The wrong way of dealing with it is to try constrain housing, start worrying about traffic, to stop that supply from coming online,” the economist said. “That will truly create affordability problems, as we’re seeing in other parts of the West Coast. This is not a question of affordability. It’s a question of supply.” While people struggling economically should be considered individually, rent controls and curtailing new housing starts isn’t the answer, he argued.

“Overall, the market needs to be encouraged,” he said. “You need more private construction, more builders building for this next generation.” As bad as the Great Recession was in Southern Oregon, there were places that had harder hits: Reno, San Luis Obispo, California, and parts of the Portland area among them, he said. “You had tons of people borrowing all sorts of crazy money to buy all sorts of new homes they couldn’t possibly afford,” the economist said. “You didn’t see the huge rush of people moving into the area to bid into the housing market; your area grew slower than the rest of the nation.” The data present the current housing market cycle in a different light, Thornberg said.
Housing prices will attract outsiders
by Greg Stiles | Mail Tribune | October 15, 2018
Forget the smoke, forget the elbow room, and take a look at housing prices.
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847

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