C.O. housing market sizzles as 2014 arrives

Building boom evident; and buyers, renters face challenges

2014: More homes, but enough?

BEND, Ore. - It seems like homes on the High Desert can't be built fast enough.

"You look around and you see building everywhere," Cascade Sotheby's International Realty spokeswoman Debbie Tebbs said Friday.

And with less than 2 percent of inventory available , the line to purchase or rent can be pretty long.

"I don't know how it can drop any lower than what we have," said Deschutes Property Management's Principal Broker Regan Scott.

But could the tide be turning?

"In 2010, there were about 150 new home permits," said Central Oregon Builders Association Executive Vice President Tim Knopp. "Just this past year, it was about 1,000. They're projecting about 20 or 30 percent growth this year."

Knopp, a Republican state senator from Bend, said we're finally back to the decade average in the local building industry.

He also says there will soon be more multifamily units in Bend.

"There's three different developers that are looking at around 100 units each, in terms of apartment development," Knopp said.

However, all the construction projects for the new year don't necessarily mean getting into a home will be any easier.

"They're filling them up as quick as they build them right now," Knopp said. "Those that are selling most rapidly are $300,000 or under."

Area real estate agents say they expect plenty of inventory for higher priced homes in 2014.

Tebbs credits more selection to more people purchasing lots and building their own dream homes.

But if you're looking for a starter home in 2014, good luck.

"The lower price-point will continue to be absorbed as quickly as it's being built," Tebbs said. "Especially with this (four-year) college coming in. And I see investors purchasing those homes to rent, because our rent demand here is still very high."

Speaking of renting -- that search won't get easier, either.

"I don't see 2014 happening," in terms of an easing of the rental crunch, Scott said.  "I think it's going to be a tough year for rentals. There's some multifamily units coming in, but it's not enough to affect our absorption rate."

It's been a busy 2013 for property managers, Realtors and builders -- and no change of pace is expected in the new year.

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