Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bend's Tour de Homes unimpresses

The eternal phrase of real estate agents
Central Oregon's annual Tour of Homes has been lackluster for the past few years during the Great Recession.

This year is no different.

Most of the new homes have lousy layouts, dull colors and all the warmth you'd expect from a doctor's modern office building.

Naturally, many of these costly cribs, particularly in NorthWest Crossing, are sold.

Not sure if flippers are buying them because $500,000 is still a lot of money in a place with double-digit unemployment.

Consistent with recent trends, the lots are small, leaving little or no yard, which translates into less yardwork but a general lack of privacy when your neighbor can peer into your bedroom from 10 feet away.

When we bought our first house in Bend in 1984, the 6,000-square-foot lot (60 by 100 feet) was considered a "small" city lot.

Today, Realtors tout that same-size lot as "large."

Lot sizes have shrunk to as low as 3,000 square feet.

We check out the tour each year because we want to see what the current trends are in terms of kitchen counters, for example, so we can get ideas when we upgrade our current home.

The best that can be said for some of the homes on the tour is that they are more eco-friendly in terms of materials used and energy saved.

Some homes are deemed "Net Zero" because their solar panels offset electricity from the grid.

It would be great if the city of Bend, which claims abundant, year-round sunshine, would mandate that all new homes be "Net Zero."

But, that is asking a lot from a city that has trouble with basic infrastructure like water, sewer and roads.

Until the city can manage what it has, there is no reason whatsoever to extend the urban growth boundary.

Plus, there are still hundreds of acres in the city limits with nothing on them.

Prices may be high for new homes in Bend, but it has nothing to do with what's available.

Developers/builders set the high prices based on what they perceive the market will bear. No other reason.

Nevermind that Bend had the most inflated housing prices in the nation during the boom and the greatest housing price decline during the bust. Now is always the time to buy.

All in all, I'm grateful for my home when compared to what's out there for such unreasonable prices.


  1. You want to know WHO is buying homes in NorthWest Crossing. I'm a real estate broker. People from the big cities flock to Northwest Crossing because of it's "ideal image" as a planned community, with a foundation of sustainable practices. It used to be mainly families but now it's aging professionals from the city. They bring their equity with them.

    It makes sense to expand the urban growth boundary in NorthWest Crossing because people are fighting to get into the few listings available. Demand creates opportunity.

    Yes, the opportunity is for West Bend Property Company LLC, owned by the Brooks family.

    I do agree the properties are being sold at an inflated price.

    All new homes built, should be energy efficient because energy is expected to be scarce in the future. Why waste and pollute if you don't have to.

  2. We recently returned from a vacation in and around Bend. Love the area and hope to move there one day. We toured a few homes in Northwest Crossing ( We we like the diverse styles) and Elgin Ave and found the homes to be interesting and very different from what we have here in VA. There were 2 we could easily picked as a homes if we were ready to move to Bend. Others did struggle with layout and colors. I think some of the "highly energy focused" builders could use some help with colors, finishes and layout. All in all Bend is attractive to us and we were generally impressed with the homes we saw. I do think you can buy a comparable home on a larger lot much cheaper when you leave the Northwest Crossing Area. Come east and do a tour of homes, you will find larger lots but boring designs that are heavily car dependent.