July 23, 2024

Real Estate Corner: Staying safe and insured

The risk of wildfires is affecting the home insurance market, just one more reason to harden homes against potential fires.
July 10, 2024

How Southern Oregonians can navigate wildfire risks and insurance changes

By Carrie Dahle

It’s time again to chat about what’s new and noteworthy around our neck of the woods — especially how our changing climate reshapes our thinking about home insurance. With wildfires becoming more frequent, understanding how to protect our homes and manage rising insurance costs is essential.

Carrie Dahle

According to the latest data from the Southern Oregon MLS, the number of homes on the market in Ashland has dipped by 8.2% from last year to 89 active listings.

This tightening market and rising insurance costs are significantly affecting those considering a move to Ashland. Both elements are essential for newcomers to understand as they explore housing options and evaluate the financial implications of insuring their new homes in our region.

Safeguarding homes is crucial

For those of us nestled in our scenic, tree-lined properties (just about everywhere in Ashland), taking proactive steps to safeguard our homes is becoming increasingly necessary.

Here are some practical measures you can take to prepare your home for wildfire season:

  1. Create defensible space: Clear away dead or dry vegetation around your home. Maintain a buffer zone of at least 30 feet where you’ve reduced flammable materials, which can help slow or stop the spread of fire toward your home.
  2. Choose fire-resistant plants and materials: When landscaping, opt for fire-resistant plants that are less likely to ignite and are native to our area. Consider adding Oregon grape, yarrow, and sedum to your garden. These plants are not only beautiful but are also known for their fire resistance. Complement these with hardscaping elements like rocks, gravel and pavers to create breaks that can help prevent fire from spreading.
  3. Regular maintenance: Keep your gutters, roofs and eaves clear of debris. This prevents decay and reduces the chances of embers igniting your home.
  4. Install fire-resistant barriers: Consider upgrading to fire-resistant roofing and siding materials. Products like treated wood, slate or metal roofing can provide better protection against fire.
  5. Prepare emergency kits and plans: Prepare an emergency kit and ensure all family members know the evacuation plan. Your kit should include water, food, medications and essential documents.

Changes in insurance happening across the West Coast

As we consider these necessary precautions, it’s important to remember that our efforts align closely with the challenges posed by our insurance requirements. Homeowners in fire-prone areas, like many of us here, face not only the physical threat of wildfires but also the financial implications through steeper insurance premiums and stricter policy requirements. This trend extends beyond our local community and affects many high-risk areas across the West Coast. Understanding these changes is crucial for anyone looking to protect their home and manage their insurance effectively.

To put these insights into a broader context, let’s examine the current real estate market dynamics: The market is bustling with new activity in Medford. In ZIP code 97504, there’s been a significant jump in listings, up 42.1% this year. On the other hand, Jacksonville saw a slight decrease in home sales and a tiny dip in median prices to $667,000, reminding us that each area has its unique pulse.

Stay informed

What can we do with all this info? Well, staying informed is the first step. Whether buying, selling or just staying put, understanding how to adapt to these insurance changes is crucial. Chat with an insurance specialist who can give you the lowdown based on your situation.

In conclusion, staying informed and proactive about wildfire preparedness and insurance management is vital for everyone in Southern Oregon. Understanding the interplay between our local environment, market dynamics, and broader insurance trends helps us make more intelligent home and family decisions. Keep up with these critical updates to navigate the challenges ahead effectively.

Take care and stay safe, Southern Oregon!

Ashland resident Carrie Dahle is president-elect of the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors and principal broker at John L. Scott, Ashland. Email her at

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