By Jason Boone

What can the annual Central Oregon Tour of Homes tell us about the real estate market of Bend, Oregon?

In addition to offering home-buyers a chance to see what local builders provide, the profile of the homes on display might furnish insight about the state of the market — and where it might be headed.

Tim Knopp, executive vice president of the Central Oregon Builders Association, which stages the tour, said more than a dozen homes on the tour are priced at $1 million or more. There has never been this many seven-figure homes on the tour, he said. A few others are in the $900,000 range.

“And there are not as many affordable homes on the tour as there have been in previous years,” Knopp said.

The tour is scheduled to run on two weekends in July.

The proportion of million-dollar homes on the tour corresponds to market conditions. According to an article in The Bulletin newspaper, the months of inventory of $1 million-plus homes is less than nine months now, compared with 32 months of inventory a year earlier.

It’s worth noting also that in each of March, April and May of this year, the percentage of sold homes priced at $525,100 or more outstripped the percentage of similarly priced homes sold in any other month since the start of 2009.

Those sales have helped drive the year-to-date median sales price of homes in Bend (through the end of May) to $349,500.

At the other end of the price spectrum, there isn’t much on display — either on the tour or in the marketplace.

“There are more and more millennials who are starting to come into the market,” said Vern Palmer, co-owner of Palmer Homes in Bend. “But we currently don’t have any product for them.”

Palmer and Knopp said the shortage of homes affordable to first-time buyers is a function of the lack of affordable land to build on.

“And so we have a lack of supply,” Knopp said, “but we have constant demand for people to live in Central Oregon, so that naturally drives the price of the land up — which drives the price of homes up.”

The city of Bend hopes to address the issue of available land with its planned expansion of the urban growth boundary. According to the latest update of the city’s Urban Growth Boundary Steering Committee, “The preferred scenario focuses future growth in opportunity areas within the existing UGB and in new complete communities in expansion areas. Nearly all expansion areas include a mix of housing, employment areas, shopping/services, and schools and parks.”

Said Knopp, “The biggest element of the lack of affordable housing is the lack of affordable and developable land within the urban growth boundary. Until we start annexing land and getting a consistent urban growth boundary, we’re going to have affordability issues in the Bend market.”

With my experience in the Bend market, I can help you identify the right home at the right price. Or, if you’re thinking about selling, I can market your home to secure an optimal price in this market.

To learn more about the Bend market, or to view area homes, contact me at (541) 383-1426, or Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.