First Person: The National Average for Home Prices Is Not Reality in Bend, Ore.

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When the housing market collapsed in 2008, one of the hardest hit areas in the country was Bend, Oregon. In 2006, Money magazine listed this central Oregon town as the fifth most overpriced real estate market in the country. By the time the bubble burst in 2008, Bend was listed as the most overpriced market in America. From 2001-2005, Bend’s median home prices skyrocketed 80% to a high of $396,000. Now, in 2012, the average price hovers around $200,000, and those aren’t selling very fast. It’s been a bumpy ride for home owners in Central Oregon.

Right now there are around 300 homes for sale in Bend in the $250,000 range and below. The list includes many short sales and foreclosures. $250,000 will get you a three bedroom home with anywhere from 1,100 to 2,500 square feet of living space. These are nice homes that once commanded anywhere from $350,000 to more than $500,000 during the bubble. Now many of them sit empty with banks hoping to just get their money back.

During 2010 Bend saw the nation’s largest depreciation in home values at 23%. Now the median price stands at $200,000 which is a far cry from the 2010 census national average of $248,000. This number does not reflect reality here in Central Oregon. Home prices have bottomed out, or so it seems, for the time being, but is a long way from the national average.

The drop has had an unattended affect: Bend is now considered one of the five best places to invest your real estate dollars in over the next five years. What this tells us is that Bend is enjoying one of the best buyers markets in years, if not a generation, and prices will be low for the foreseeable future. Not a good sign for home owners who may wish to put their property on the market.

When the housing bubble burst, Bend had the farthest to fall and it was not a soft landing. We are almost $50,000 below the national average, when we were once the most overpriced market in the country. Real estate in Central Oregon for the last decade has seen the extremes of the market and is now paying the cost. After reading the 2010 census figures I wonder if they made it out to our neck of the woods or not.

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