BEND, OR -- Bend’s real estate market was a flurry of activity last month, in sharp contrast to a year ago. After a relatively slow fall, Central Oregon’s housing market picked up in January, with more listings, more sales and higher prices. KBND Real Estate Expert Fred Johnson says this winter has seen about three-times as many properties hit the market compared to last year, partly due to the mild weather. But, he says, in general, the industry is staying busy nearly year round. "A lot of people go under the misnomer that, ‘well, there’s no need to put the [house] on until March because I want to have flower boxes on the front porch.’ And, ‘if I don’t have it sold by the end of September, I might as well weatherize the sprinkler system and hunker down for winter.’ And, what we’ve seen is those shoulder seasons have reduced dramatically. There’s people who come early in the spring and there’s people who come late in the fall."
Johnson believes changing consumer trends are partly responsible for shortening the "off" season because house hunters no longer have to brave the elements to look at a prospective property, "Almost everybody shops online anymore. So, what happens is, they can set up their profile on the computer; when a property comes on that meets their profile, it will drop into their box. Well, through the winter months, not many property opportunities have dropped into their box. And then, all of a sudden, this year, January came along and items started to fall in there, and that created the level of activity."
He says the increase in activity, listings and prices are similar to what’s happening all along the west coast, from Seattle to San Diego. And, he believes prices will continue to trend upward, "Even with some influx of interest rates. The unfortunate thing is, the people that are affected by that most are the people at the lower end of qualifying for their housing. So, if interest rates bump up, it’s not going to bother the person that’s paying $500,000 or more. But, for the person that can just barely qualify, the interest rate bump of .5% is the difference between them finding home ownership or not."
Johnson tells KBND News, "The most dramatic impact that we had this year, early on, was the amount of activity in the market above $925,000 in Bend. Where, previously we’ve had more than a year’s worth of inventory in that sector of the market, right now, in the most recent report that was just put out, there was seven months of inventory." In Bend, the inventory of homes listed below $625,000 is at three months or less.