Hot summer? Bend home sales, prices on the rise

Stats show May home sales highest since 2005

Bend home sales hit an eight year high

BEND, Ore. - Is Bend's housing market back on track? Could we be facing another bubble?

"Obviously, everybody's concerned by how quickly prices are going up," Cascade Sotheby's International Realty's principal broker Wendy Adkisson said Tuesday.

According to the Bratton Report out this week, last month, Bend had its highest number of homes sales since the boom in 2005, as nearly 250 homes were sold in May.

The price of homes is also on the rise.

"When there's a double-digit increase, I tend to be a little cautious," said Bratton residential appraiser Donie Montagner.

Montagner said while home values seem to be jumping very quickly,  you can't necessarily compare prices now to those when the housing market crashed. (The peak median price in Bend, by contrast, was a whopping $396,000 in the summer of 2007; see more of the stats dating back to 2005 in the full Bratton Report (Adobe Acrobat PDF) linked to beside this story.)

"Are they (houses now) overvalued? It's difficult to say, in the sense that, if you're basing it off of those distressed sales, that drove the price points down too far -- we may not be," Montagner said.

Adkisson said she doesn't believe another burst is on the way.

"There's no longer those no-documentation loans, there's no negative amortization (payments that don't even cover interest costs), we've got qualified buyers, lots of pent-up demand," she said.

Adkisson and Montagner say demand is high -- there aren't quite enough houses on the market in some price points. Couple that with record low interest rates that are expected to rise, and investors willing to make cash deals.

Montagner said it's a buyers market transitioning to a seller's market. But if you're thinking about selling, he encourages you to wait, if you can.

"The sooner you buy and sell, just to make a profit, the higher the risk," he said.

Adkisson said this time next year, more people should be selling.

"That will hopefully balance out supply and demand a little bit more," Adkisson said.

And as far as buying? Experts say now is the time.

But what about the rest of Central Oregon? Montagner said outside of Bend is recovering more slowly from the downtown.

Just 61 homes were sold in Redmond last month, less than half the 126 sold in a month at the height of the market.

The median sales price of a home in Redmond is now $182,000, the highest level seen since 2008,. when it was $223,000; by comparison, the Redmond home price peak, in late 2006, was $289,000.

The number of single-family home sales in Jefferson County (and Crooked River Ranch) was only 10 last month. In Sunriver and in Crook County, 16 homes were sold last month. Four homes were sold in Sisters and eight houses in La Pine.

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