The Jackson County residential housing market went to the darkest corners of recession and back in the past 10 years.
Entering 2016, much of the local market is approaching terrain reached before the plunge, according to figures compiled by Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.
Last year's $225,000 countywide median sales price for existing homes is ahead of 2004's median of $221,000, but prices haven't quite elbowed their way back to the apex when median urban residential prices hit $286,900 in 2006.
Sales activity picked up 23 percent in 2015, and the 863 properties available Dec. 31 were down 17.4 percent from the 1,045 available at the end of 2014.
The question coming off back-to-back years of record sales activity is whether the market can sustain itself with inventories falling and mortgage rates rising.
Colin Mullane, spokesman for the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors, leans toward a positive outcome in 2016 following a strong 2015.
"There is still a lot of pent-up demand. You have a lot of buyers wanting and willing to enter the marketplace, especially encouraged by the lower interest rates," Mullane said Friday.
"It makes a home more affordable at 4 percent versus 5 or 6 when they have to taper back those expectations and the overall purchase price," he added. "It remains to be seen what kind of inventory level will really start to arrive in the spring and summer, which is when we're most active. If the inventory doesn't show up ... that will continue to put upward pressure on pricing as buyers really struggle to enter the marketplace."
If interest rates push above 5 percent, activity could stall, he said.
"Buyers will pull back a little bit as they hope the market goes back down along with interest rates," he said.
Acknowledging the multitude of external factors that can converge to dent a local market, Mullane said the fundamentals surrounding the real estate industry are more reliable than a decade ago — primarily because buyers have stricter requirements to obtain mortgages.
"There is a lot of tension in the world right now," Mullane said. "We're in a presidential (election) year, you've got a stock market that is a little jittery right now. Real estate reactions tend to move a lot slower than that. You'll see people pull out of stocks on a daily basis, while real estate takes more of a long-term approach."
Without a larger inventory, there will be upward pressure on prices.
"We're just not seeing inventory levels increase enough to really make that buyer-seller demand level out to where you get that evening out of prices," he said.