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Bend calls itself the outdoor recreation capitol of Oregon, where visitors and residents can literally ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Outdoor activities run the gamut, from hot air ballooning to hiking and other winter sports to relaxing fishing on glassy lakes.

Known as "the sunny side of Oregon", the Cascade mountains act as a protective buffer, giving Bend only 12 inches of precipitation per year, say officials. That compares to 42" for Portland, 36" for Seattle and 20" for San Francisco.

Bend has slowly changed its economy from wood products to tourism. A healthy dose of high tech, manufacturing, health care and professional services, is providing job growth which in turn is spurring housing.

"According to a 2001 market study the average price for a Bend home has risen steadily since 1993 - from about $115,000 to more then $200,000 last year," says Realtor Ruben Garmyn ( House Interior Home illustrated construction plans ). " The average price of homes in Bend has appreciated about 10 percent each year over the last 8-10 years. The region's continuing desirability is seen as a major reason for a continuing surge in the construction and real estate industries with downtown and west side areas of Bend the real estate hot spots."

Offers Garmyn, "Central Oregon's red-hot real estate market seems a great investment. While the rate of return may not be as fast or furious as playing the NASDAQ, new homebuyers probably won't crash and burn. New homeowners in Bend are finding their real estate investment firmly in place; new home appreciation in the Bend area appears to be rising at an extraordinary rate."

Expect to pay a premium for new homes in Bend.

"Central Oregon, and especially Bend, remains high on the desirability meter," explains Garmyn. "This demand, in turn, puts pressure on the amount of buildable, residential land available. The leading cause of inflation in Bend outside of materials and labor is the cost of the land. Prices for lots have doubled in the last 4-5 years. Also take into account changes in consumer buying trends . People are moving more often so the useful life of a house is declining .One reason new homes are more attractive is that older homes are priced the same as new homes. This seems true in Bend where older homes are on the market have been known to sell for more then a new home on the market, depending on the area.

"The result has been a market drawn to newer homes with more square footage that incorporates the latest building materials, fixtures, designs and technology," says Garmyn. "It is important to note that not all homes in every price range will experience the same rate of appreciation. Homes under $250,000 are appreciating more than more expensive ones right now. And remember the old real estate adage "Location, Location, Location!" Traditionally homes in more desirable areas will likely see a greater return on appreciation."

However, don't get discouraged if you are a buyer and want an older home.

Explains Realtor John Melton , "There are 15,000+ homes and properties currently on the COAR MLS which is great news for homebuyers, which technically makes it a "buyers market.

"The real estate market in Central Oregon is unique, however, because the people who are moving here are mostly coming for the outdoor activities, so although sales slow in the winter months, the prices don't drop significantly because so many people move here to ski.

"In 2001, it was a record-breaking year for home sales - a whopping $429 million in Bend, and sales this year are even higher. There are hundreds of new homes being built in approximately 60 new subdivisions, as well as offices, new roads, and many planned improvements. All of this construction shows how strong our economy here is which will also spur growth. Finding "affordable housing" is a major concern among our City Council Members, however - with the average price of a home in Bend near $205K.

"The Old Mill District is now the "hot spot" for retail merchants and many new craftsman style offices are springing up - mostly in the $1.50+/SF range. Westside Bend still outpaces the other areas in terms of "desirability" to builders. The new $30 million Summit High School in NW Bend is particularly attractive and indicative of our strong tax base. Lots for building new homes aren't plentiful, and prices for good lots are continuing to climb rapidly."

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