That is a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. First, what do you mean by, "nice"? You and I might mean very different things! Next, the price per sq. ft. is important, but in southern Oregon, you know there are many newer subdivisions on with homes on tiny lots, older homes with larger lots, and still home on acreage. What about the age of the home? Its location?
Lastly, add in the fact that the most recent sales data for Jackson County show the median home price for bank-owned (foreclosed) and short sale homes is 36% and 26% (respectively) below the median price of homes in traditional "happy" sales. This obviously gives you a lower sq. ft. price when comparing two similar homes (often right next door to each other).
These days in southern Oregon, a home in great condition and nice neighborhood can be found for around $100 square foot...then again there have been recent sales well under that mark, but you couldn't find a home in Jacksonville, for example, for less than that. (And again what do you mean by "nice"?)
Your Realtor should be able to search for properties available for sale and to specify a square foot price. You will see that the results will be quite varied, but it could give you a better idea of all of the factors to consider.
If you are looking in southern Oregon, I'd be happy to send you a list of homes that meet your criteria (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, area) that are in your price range and at different square foot levels.
Good luck in your home search. If you're trying to buy before the April 30th deadline for First Time Home Buyers, there isn't much time left!
Ultimately, I'd recommend shopping around and getting a "feel" for good properties, then using a Realtor to lock down the statistics once you've got a more specific question of what and where. Good luck!
Very best to you in your search for a new home!
You really can't shop for a nice home based on the price per square footage. You should determine what price range you can afford. If you haven't done so already, get a preapproval for a mortgage then shop for a home with a style & features you like based on your price range that you qualify for. There are many nice homes to choose from in todays market. .Home values are typically based on comparable value of recent sales within a community. The only time you should be concerned about price per square footage is when you have a lot & you are shopping for a builder to build your house. That price will be based on the size, features & upgrades you want in the house. Every area is different & builders costs will vary so get a 2nd opinion if that is what you are doing from a local real estate agent
I know this is cliche, but it really depends upon the area you choose to live.
Hypothetical- you find a home you are intersted in, any Realtor can pull all of the comparable homes that have sold within a 1 mile range and find out the average price per sq.ft. sold. This will give you a medium average to work with.
Price per square foot is an excellent approach, for finding a home and making sure you are not overpaying in certain areas.
I hope this helps. Best of luck!