How to Buy Bend Oregon Vacation Rentals


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Hello again, and welcome to the Bend Real Estate Minute!  I am Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon real estate buyers’ broker at Bend Brokers Realty. You can find me at, call me at 541-480-7554, or email me at Thom—that’s T-H-O-M—  This video is How to buy Bend Oregon vacation rentals.

One of the biggest questions I get every year and especially in the summertime when people are here recreating, and tourists are having a great time in Bend, I get all these last minute calls—I probably get 10 a year—saying, “Hey, can you come meet us for a beer and talk about something?” And I say, “Sure!”  I’m always up for going out for a drink. If you want to take me out for a drink on your dime, call me!

So I go and meet folks, and the question is often the same.  “We want know how to buy Bend Oregon vacation rentals?” It sounds like a great business idea… and it is! It’s just unfortunately not an original one.

Bend Oregon vacation rentals have become very saturated over the years. In 2012, the city of Bend passed a law saying that, for one thing, they had to be 300 ft. apart because they were ruining neighborhoods. You want to live in a nice, quiet neighborhood, and you’ve got people coming and partying for the weekend, leaving trash and parking up the street, et cetera, and suddenly Bend Oregon’s West side is not so good as a permanent place to live.

So, they passed that rule. Now there are very heavy fees. You have to pay a hotel tax on vacation rentals in the city of Bend. They have code enforcement people looking at VRBO and AirBnB all the time and fining people—and the fines are pretty hefty. And there’s a $2,000 application fee.

So, because of that, if you’re looking for Bend Oregon vacation rentals on the west side, they’re very saturated, very hard to get, almost impossible to get a permit. You’ll find there is an eligibility map (I put a link up here on the video). It will show you either red or yellow for a certain address. You type in a certain address, and it will show you on the map. You can see a red or yellow box. Red means it’s not eligible.  Yellow means it might be eligible. Usually, there’ll be two or three yellows together. What it means is, “Hey, your neighbor might have already applied for that permit. It just hasn’t gone through yet.”

But don’t get seduced by a yellow box either. My house is one of the few on the West Side of Bend that have a yellow box. Wonderful, right? No, my neighborhood forbids vacation rentals; so do many others here in town. So, that’s a very difficult nut to crack.

Vacation rentals are an easier game if you want to buy some property along the river or something that has some really great attraction for a tourist outside of the city limits because there, there are no rules. But in the city of Bend, very hard.

And you can occasionally by one that already has a permit attached. Bend Oregon vacation rentals that existed prior to 2012 were grandfathered in. And some of those homes have transferable permits—many don’t, many you have to reapply for. Usually, you’ll get it, but not if your neighbor beats you.

So, those go for a premium. Here’s an example. A few streets over from me on Awbrey Road, the average price on that road is probably about $600,000. An average home there a couple of months ago went for nearly $1.1 million. We’re talking the same house as the $600,000 house next door. It went for almost $1.1 million because it was one of Bend Oregon’s vacation rentals with a transferable short-term permit.

There you go! There’s a big premium in those simply because there’s big money in those. I had people last year—several of them actually—come and say, “Hey, we’ve got about $250,000 or $300,000 to spend. We’d like to buy a Bend Oregon vacation rental!”

No, I’m sorry. Them’s the breaks. That’s the situation. I’m going to put the link up for the short-term Bend Oregon vacation rentals eligibility map on the video. And if you have questions, hey, I can help you! Thom Gardner, Bend Brokers Realty,, 541-480-7554 or 1-800-GO4BEND or Thom—T-H-O-M—

See you on the next one!

Thom Gardner Bend Oregon Buyer's Agent Bend Oregon real estate buying zones 2019

Bend Oregon Real Estate Buying Zones 2019 Update

Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon Buyer’s Agent and Principal Broker, updates his most popular video, Bend Oregon Real Estate Buying Zones, for 2019.  My, how prices have changed in three years.



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Hey everybody! And welcome back.

I am Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon Real Estate Agent and Pure Buyer’s Broker at Bend Brokers Realty. You can reach me at 541-480-7554 or

So, it’s been three years since I’ve done one of these videos! I know it’s kind of ridiculous, huh? Business got really, really busy. It’s doubled each of the last two years., and I just didn’t have time for these anymore.
But I get a lot of calls on these videos, especially this one.  So I thought it was time to do an update because I keep getting the question: “Hey, can you still get me a house for $250,000?” And the answer is… no, I can’t. So, let’s talk about where prices are now and update it for 2019.

Okay, first of all, a little bit of business here. It used to be that Bend Home Buyers Agency was my moniker. AT Bend Brokers Realty. But now, I own Bend Brokers Realty. So, as you can see behind me, we have new signage, we have new logos, we have new everything.

I am still only a buyers’ broker. I do not work with sellers. However, I do now have people in my office who do!  So, if you are looking for an honest broker, you don’t know where to turn, and you like my style, feel free to give me a buzz. Hit me up on email, and I will guide you to the person that fits you the best, okay?
Alright! Here we go, let’s update this sucker.

Alright, here we’ve got the same map as we had a few years ago.  I’ve updated it a little bit. You can see I put a blue line here that divides north and south, blue line here the divides east and west—northwest, northeast, southeast, southwest. Pretty easy to figure out, right?

Okay! So, a couple of caveats. Southwest is a weird one because it used to be—and I’ve lived here for about 29 years—old-timers like me called “southwest” anything west of the river. Nowadays, it’s anything west of the parkway. It’s kind of confusing because I know.  It came about because people right here want to say, “Hey, I live on the west side,” because there’s a little bit of cache to that, right? And that’s totally fine, but there’s a big difference in price.

So, when we talk about southwest prices, we’re generally talking about this area in here between the river and the parkway. They’re lower than on the west side of the river where they’re much more expensive and much more akin to the northwest.  So, take this part with a grain of salt when we talk about it. Just add anything west of the river into northwest, okay? That’s the way to look at it.

Alright, so let’s talk about that. Northwest side of town, this is where the tourists go. This is where everybody wants to be where the vacation rentals are. This is Awbrey Butte right here. It used to be our toniest address back in the day. It still is pretty nice.  And it’s where the cute, little houses are, the river is, the trails are, the restaurants, the pubs, festivals, concerts, all that stuff that people want to move to Bend to have that Bend lifestyle—all over here. That’s why it’s most expensive. There’s not enough dirt here to go around. We don’t have enough space for everybody that wants to live there.

Southwest (west of the river), great river access; also access to Mt. Bachelor right here on Century Drive. Mountain bike trails, boom! Most of them are right here. Easy to get to.

And if we talk about the part that I was just telling you about, which I’ll call the Brookswood area—because most of these homes are served by Brookswood Boulevard, it runs right here—those all generally have stem trails that gets you to the river trail which will get you almost anywhere in town and/or across the river, so you can get mountain bike trails and stuff like that.

Okay! Southeast side of town, you’ve got big Ponderosa pines, larger lots, and again, larger lots have gotten more expensive since our last discussion. I had a couple of homes down here. I lived here for six or so years, two different houses. Loved it. And boy, did they go up in value because they were on big lots. I always tell clients my mantra, “They’re not making more big lots. If you can get a big lot, get it”, if you’re so predilected to do so because small lots, they’re making many, and they’ll continue to.

Now, northeast, that’s the least expensive side of town. Something interesting has happened in the few years since I did this video before. The state of Oregon has not allowed us much more land outside the urban growth boundary, which is this orange line, again, running around the map, okay? That’s almost the same as city limits—not quite, but we won’t worry about the details right now.

So, in Oregon, we have to get permission to expand outside the urban growth boundary. They won’t let us. They gave us a little bit over here, a little bit down here, and a little bit over here. Teeny bits of land.
What they said was, “If you want more, come back in 5 years or 10 years”, depending on when we get this all done. And show us that you have built on in-fill lots, which is bare land inside the existing city limits, “And increase your urban density by building multi-family homes and apartment complexes.” And people, I’m telling you, there are some massive apartment complexes going up all over the east side of Bend. That’s where the dirt is. That’s where they’re going. Very few are going over here because there’s just no land to spare, okay?

So, we are seeing a lot, especially in the northeast, of multifamily homes, duplexes, quads, stuff like that—and big apartment complexes that we had never seen the likes of here in Bend. A few of those over here in the southeast as well. That’s something to take into consideration when you buy up here in the northeast, and in a few places down here in the southeast, okay? Where are those going in? How are they going to affect your property values?

So, this is the least expensive part of town. It’s also a little more desert-y, a little lower. You get a little longer growing season. And a little more sunshine, a little more wind, that kind of thing. But again, it’s where people are buying starter homes. First time buyers, that’s where you go.

Let’s talk about values now in 2019 versus 2016 when I did this before. I can’t get you that $250,000 house, but let’s start with the northeaast, the least expensive part of town.  I’m seeing prices there right now starting right about $329,000. And occasionally, you can find a fixer-upper less than that, but I mean it’s beat up. It’s really beat up—and/or some of those you can’t get a loan on because the bank won’t loan on something that’s in major disrepair. Keep that in mind.  Now, houses over here can go up to about $600,000—over here off of 18th, which is the nicest area in the northeast. I’ve got some great clients who bought over there over the years. You get more for your money, right?  We’re starting over here, at about over $175/sq.ft. these days, maybe down to $150 if you’re very lucky—pretty rare.  And when we get down to the bottom end, you’re going to have lots of competition in the summer months. That’s something to keep in mind. Those prices you see may go higher, okay?

So, let’s talk about southeast. Southeast is a little bit more expensive—not a lot. You can still get a starter home over here for about $350,000. And homes over here on the big lots, again, value there. In Kings Forest, Orion Estates and especially Woodside Ranch are much more expensive.  In this area, for a half acre, three-quarter acre property, older/dated, you’re looking at about $500,000 to start. Down here in Woodside Ranch, you’re looking at about $650,000 to start. Gorgeous though, big trees, rolling streets, so peaceful. Lots of wildlife, et cetera. That’s the southeast side.

Southwest… and again, I’m mostly talking about this area right here in between the river and the parkway. These homes, tract homes mostly, built since about 2005, some newer ones. And there are a couple of neighborhoods in here which are from the ‘90s and need a little bit of updating. Let’s face it, we made some ugly choices in the ‘90s. And you’re generally going to start about $425,000 over here if you’re lucky; $450,00 is a little more apropos of where we are at the moment. Those $425-ers, they’re selling the first day—even in the springtime time, which is not the busiest time of year. So be prepared to fight over those cheaper homes on this side of town right here in the southwest.  Everybody wants to live near the river, near the old mill or downtown because, again, in Bend, you want to ride your bike, walk, whatever, get out of your car to go to restaurants, pubs, festivals, concerts, and yada-yada-and-yada… and trails!
Okay! So, that’s the southwest.

Now, the west side of the river southwest of course is much more akin to the northwest, the granddaddy of town. I like it over here. It’s not for everybody, I get that. But again, I’ve lived here 29 years. Bend used to be a very different place—it still is over here. Yeah, it’s a little more congested there, more people, a lot more tourists. But a lot more restaurants as well. That’s not a bad thing. But it still feels like a small town just over here. It doesn’t feel like a small town on the east side. It feels like a Californiaesque, suburb- strip mall kind of town.  In the west, it still feels like old Bend—quaint, little houses, quaint, little streets, cute as a button, lots of trees, lots of deciduous trees—the river plays a big part in that—lots of trails, tons of little neighborhood restaurants and pubs. You can walk to everything, ride your bike to everything.
I’m about a 10-minute walk to downtown. And let me tell you, parking is a lot harder these days. A lot more people in town, a lot more tourists. And because of that, parking is crunched on tourist holidays and weekends. I ride up on my e-bike, park wherever I want… easy as pie. Major benefit over here.
But you pay for that because there’s not a lot to go around. Too many people want to live here. We don’t have enough space for them.

So, on the west side, you’re generally talking about starting at $550,000. These are all homes in 3-bedrooms, 2 baths and uprange that I’m talking about throughout the video. About $550,000, occasionally $539,000. I’ve seen some over here in Shevlin Meadows at $539,000; some down here in West Side Meadows right down here on the end of town, also about $539,000, but that is really the bottom.  You can find some 2-bed stuff here, 800 or 900 sq. ft. for about $450,000. I wouldn’t buy it. I don’t think that’s a great bargain these days. And you go up to 6 or 7 million inside the city limits. Higher than that if you go just outside here in the rural. You can be 10 million or 12 million.  So, you get what you pay for is kind of how it works. If you’re comfortable being in your car to go to everywhere, and you’re on a budget, and maybe you’re a first time home buyer, the east is where you’re looking almost surely. If you’ve got a little more money to spend, maybe some cash, and you want “the lifestyle,” the Bend lifestyle, it’s over here on the west side of town.

Okay, there you go! We’re updated for 2019, three years later. Again, Thom Gardner, Bend Brokers Realty. You can reach me at 541-480-7554, or as you can see, 1-800-GO4BEND or

One last quick thing, average prices in the three zip codes of town, I have a chart for that on my website, West side versus East side Bend Oregon Home Prices. I’m going to update it every month. Last month, we were looking at $746,000 over here, although I think that was a little high. We had a big jump from the month before. Let’s call it $675 or $680 is the average price over here in 97703, which is what we’re talking about. 97702 is the southern half of town. The average price in there was about $475. And again, that’s an amalgam of both this area and this area, okay? Generally, I would say it’s probably closer to $485 or $490 right now, maybe even $500. Northeast, 97701, average was for $445. And I think that’s about right.

Okay, there you go! Take care.  And I’ll see you on the next one.


Making Offers on Bend Oregon Real Estate and Pricing Metrics




Hi, Thom Gardner again for the Bend Real Estate Minute at which is part of Bend Brokers Realty. So today, I’m going to talk a little bit about making offers on Bend Oregon real estate, and the pricing metrics to make that offer.
Now, we are in the high season, May through October. And because of that, you’re going to see that most houses are selling for at list, close to list, or in some cases, with hot neighborhoods, way over list.
There still are chances for you to get a Bend Oregon home at less than list depending on a few things. And to do so, we use pricing metrics. Those are things such as how many days has that home been on the market.
I’m looking to buy a Bend Oregon home right now myself. I have a couple that I’m looking at that have been on the market an inordinately long time. And because of that, I know I’m going to be able to take them a little bit and rate them over the coals and get the price down. They don’t have a choice at this point because it’s a hot market and they’re not selling.
So, how many days on market has that home been there? That’s the first one to think of when making offers on Bend Oregon real estate.
The second is what neighborhood is it in? Is it a hot neighborhood? Is it a hot home? Are there obvious flaws with the home?
Now, in the case of the Bend Oregon homes I’m talking about for myself, they have obvious flaws. So, the question with those obvious flaws, you have to ask yourself, is “Can I fix these flaws? Or are they structural, fundamental flaws that can never be fixed?” You want to avoid those, of course, because you’re going to have trouble selling that house later yourself.
However, if it’s something you can fix—and the ones I’m looking at can be fixed for a price—you figure out how much under the list price can I come in at so that I can fix those flaws and still get a great deal? So that’s another metric to look at when making offers on Bend Oregon real estate.
Other things I can find out for you from the listing agent. Is there something in this deal for the seller that’s much more important than just the price? That can be something like a seller lease back for a month or two, so that they lease the home from you after you close, and they can move out more easily. Or is there a certain closing date they’re looking for that’s maybe a couple months off in the future? And if you have the flexibility to deal with that, the fact that we’re putting that into an offer may cause them to take a lower price, which works for you.
So, there are several things like that to consider when making offers on Bend Oregon real estate. Other things can be: does it back to a busy road, is it in an area where there’s a mixed look to the neighborhoods—you have some lower cost homes versus higher cost homes—and of course, running a competitive market analysis (which I can, of course, do for you), find out what homes nearby are selling for, how long they’re taking to sell, and how is this home priced versus those homes?
Those are just a few of the pricing metrics to take into consideration when making offers on Bend Oregon real estate. Again, I can help you with that! Thom Gardner with the Bend Real Estate Minute at, part of Bend Brokers Realty. Take care!

Artificial Bend Oregon Home pricing


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SPRING/ SUMMER 2016 – Artificial Bend Oregon Home Pricing Alert

Hello, everybody. Thom Gardner for the Bend Real Estate Minute at which is part of Bend Brokers Realty, and I am going to talk to you today about Bend Oregon Home Pricing.
So, you may have seen my recent video on multiple offers in Bend Oregon- we’re smack dab now in multiple offer season. There’s something else I want to alert you to that’s going on out there that I’ve seen in previous years, but seems to be becoming more standard for Bend Oregon real estate agents who list homes.
I first started seeing it in 2011 or ’12. And now, in the last two years, it’s become a little bit of an epidemic. And that is Bend Oregon Home pricing being set artificially to attract multiple offers.
Some listing agents are under pricing Bend Oregon homes that they know will be hot, so that you think you’re going to be able to get this house for a price within your price range. But what they’re really doing is trolling for multiple offers on the first day.
The multiple offer situation in Bend has gotten stranger this year. It used to be that we would write in a deadline date for them to respond to our offer, and they would do so within that time frame. Now, because the hot homes are so hot and rising in price so quickly in a market where there’s very little inventory, they’re just holding onto the multiple offers, and they’re saying, “You know what? We’re going to look at all the multiple offers, all together, in a week.” Usually, it’s not even that long. Usually, it’s two or three days.
So, let’s say the house goes up on a Friday. The listing agent, when I call—they won’t call me because they’ve got the hot house, I’ve got to do the work on this thing- I’ll call them and they’ll say, “Look, we’re going to look at all the offers on Monday night, and we’re going to pick the best one.”
So, if you see a Bend home that looks too good to be true in your price range—let’s say you’re in the range of $500,000 Bend Oregon home prices. You think, “Gosh! This house looks like those fantastic $650,000 or $600,000 houses I’ve seen,” and you can’t believe it, It’s in the right neighborhood. It’s got the right look, its craftsman. Everything looks new and beautiful. It looks like it’s got a great flow. Maybe I’ve run and done a video on it. It looks amazing. Well, guess what? Well, there are probably 10 other people beating down that door, making an offer on that home. That house that’s listed at $500,000 might go for $550,000, it might go for $575,000, it might go for $600,000. It sounds ridiculous, but it is happening.
And of course, as usual, I’m going to tell you. Your best defense against this is to call me or another pure buyer’s agent if you can find one. Let us get to work on that property, dig in the dirt, finding out what we can from the listing agent, and save you a bunch of headache.
Let me tell you, it’s very deflating when you go through two or three of those in a row, and you have nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, your emotions have been jerked around. Two or three times, you thought you might have a great house, and you have nothing. It’s pretty discouraging.
Okay, again, Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon real estate agent, Principal Broker, and Pure Buyer’s agent for the Bend Real Estate Minute at, part of Bend Brokers Realty, and this has been my rant on artificial Bend Oregon home pricing. Thanks again.

Multiple Offers in Bend Oregon Real Estate 2016


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Multiple Offers in Bend Oregon Real Estate 2016

Hey, Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon real estate agent, Principal Broker, and Pure Buyer’s Agent here again for the Bend Oregon Real Estate Minute So, it is May, middle of May. And as has happened the last several years, that means multiple offers in good old Bend Oregon real estate.
I’ve already been involved in one—actually, two. The first one was a little strange in that we got a second chance after we were beaten on our original offer because the original buyer got buyer’s remorse and pulled out within a day or two.
On the second one, we came in at full price on a $600,000 home, and ended up being beaten by a significant margin.
So, here’s what you need to know about multiple offers. First of all, we need to identify if the home you are looking at is going to be in a hot area of Bend Oregon, or a neighborhood or the home itself is such that it’s going to be subject to  multiple offers.
Now, I can tell you whether that is the case. Generally, these are going to be on the west side, generally in specific neighborhoods, and not ugly ducklings because they tend to last awhile. I can help you identify if that’s the case.
Now, if that is the case, we go to part B which is where you need to have a conversation with yourself and ask yourself “how much more than list am I willing to pay for this house in Bend?” You may only get one chance.
In the old days, we would submit an offer in multiple offers situations and they would come back and say, “Okay, we want your highest and best offer.” However, what I’m finding this year and last is that they are just taking the highest offer because, often, they’re so high that it’s a case of a bird in the hand versus two in the bush, and they want that bird now. So, you’re going to need to decide how high you’re willing to go.
And remember, it’s tough for me as your Bend Oregon real estate agent to advise you to go too high above list because often, I find that buyers, within a week or two, if they’re paying let’s say $525,000 for a house that was listed at $500,000, they have buyer’s remorse, and they think, “Gosh! Did somebody play me? Have I been jerked around on this deal? Should I have bid so high? Did I pay too much for this house?”
I hate seeing buyers in that situation. I hate seeing you have to pay more than list. But you know what? In May, June, July or August in Bend, 2016 especially with such low inventory you may have to for the home that you really desire.  So then we make the offer, we hope for the best, and we move on from there.
Now, remember, the key with multiple offers—and this is tough in a moving market like we have in Bend Oregon real estate where it’s moving so quickly in terms of price as we’re up 10% in two months—is that it has to appraise. So if you’re getting a loan, remember, it’s going to have to appraise at the amount that we go above list on. If it doesn’t, we go back and we start over again.
If you’re paying cash, that’s not a problem. You just need to figure out how much cash you’re willing to let loose with.
Okay! Again, Thom Gardner, Bend Oregon real estate agent, Principal Broker, and pure buyer’s agent for This has been the Bend Real Estate Minute. Take care!

Bend Oregon Mortgage Lenders – Local?




Bend Oregon Mortgage Lenders

Hello everybody and welcome again to the Bend Real Estate Minute. This is Thom Gardner, Principal Broker and Pure Buyer’s Broker at Bend Brokers Realty, which is part of Bend Brokers Realty.
Today, I’m going to talk to you a little bit about Bend Oregon mortgage lenders. Now other than choosing myself, the second most important choice you’re going to make, if you’re getting a loan, is your mortgage lender.
Now, people often ask me, “Should I use somebody in my hometown who I may have used in the past for a purchase as my lender? Or should I look at Bend Oregon mortgage lenders?”
I believe it’s important to use somebody locally because Bend is a very unique market, very unique, especially in terms of seasonality of sales, as our sales go through the roof in spring and summer and die most of the rest of the year. And things like the forest boundary, urban growth boundary, septic tanks, and other area specific things here affect loans, and it’s good to have somebody here who understands that stuff and works with it every day versus somebody maybe online – that’s often the worst choice I’ve found – or someone in your local town who may not be used to some of these issues on a daily basis.
Concerning loans, most deals that fall apart do so right at the very end of the deal. You need a mortgage lender who can move fast. And importantly as well, you need someone who will take your phone call on a weekend or an evening, who will give you their cellphone number. If you use somebody online, that’s not going to happen. If you use a bank, that is not going to happen.
I almost always recommend a mortgage broker over a banker because he or she doesn’t get paid unless you get your loan, unlike a banker who gets paid a salary and he or she’s not going to be so hot on running and chasing down every detail for your loan. It’s going to happen or it doesn’t happen. A mortgage broker needs your sale to go through in order to make money. So I highly recommend you use one instead of a bank.
And if you use a Bend Oregon mortgage lender, which again I highly recommend, and there’s a problem at the very end of your deal, I can get them on the phone, get them running and say, “What is going on here?”, or “We need this fixed immediately”.  Or, conversely, if they have a problem and they need me to chase something down, they can get ahold of me really quickly and say, “Here’s what I need. Do this, do that.”
I’ll give you at least three Bend Oregon mortgage lenders to choose from so that you have a choice in figuring out who works best with you and who will give you the best deal in the end. But again, I highly recommend using somebody locally. When we’ve had deals fall apart due to loans, it’s almost always when someone is using a lender that is not here in town.
Now again, this is Thom Gardner, Principal Broker and Pure Buyer’s Broker,  CONTACT ME if I can be of help!

Free Bend Oregon Real Estate Services


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Free Bend Oregon Real Estate Services for Home Buyers

CONTACT ME HERE if I can be of help!

Hello again everybody, this is Thom Gardner with Bend Brokers Realty at I’m a Principal Broker and Pure Buyer’s Broker.
Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about a couple of the Bend Oregon real estate services I offer that really help my out of town clients. And again, that is the vast majority of my clients- 80% to 85%.
So the first thing I like to do for folks is set up a Bend Oregon real estate portal on the MLS system because that will give you a real time look at how quickly homes are selling in your price range, what kind of Bend homes you like, and allow you to save ones that you like for possible future looks or to send me on a video run, which I’ll describe next, so that you can see a little bit more into that property.
Now, the nice thing about having an MLS portal versus having a Trulia or Zillow view is that you get real time updates and changes on the pricing, and on the status of the Bend Oregon real estate if it has gone pending- which you don’t get on the consumer sites. I can’t tell you how often a client contacts me and says “I saw this great house on Zillow, can you check it out?”, only to find out it is a goose chase because the house sold months ago and the listing agent left it on the consumer sites so that he or she could get more phone calls! VERY COMMON. So with a Bend real estate portal, you’re able to really make much more informed and quick decisions in a hot market about what you would like to do and what you like to have me do on this end. So I highly recommend that you ask me to set up an MLS portal.
All I need is the criteria, your minimum square footage, your minimum beds and baths, your price range especially and other things you may have like garage size, lot size, age of home, whatever floats your boat. Let me know and I’ll do my best to integrate it into the search so we don’t waste your time, area of town, et cetera, proximity to the river, trails, shopping, whatever you like. So that’s the first thing.
The second of my free Bend Oregon real estate services that folks use to buy from afar after they have a portal is video. When they find a Bend home that really looks good, they want to see what it really looks like, not what it looks like in some fluffy pictures done by a pro and that may have cropped out the ugly thing next door or focused only on the pretty parts of the house. No, they want a real look and so I go and I do a professional video. Obviously, if you are watching this you know I have a professional camera. I also have a steady cam and some pretty good experience in the field.
And so what I do is I go in and I go through the home from front to back, all around the outside and I show you the neighborhood, the homes on either side and across the street, proximity to traffic, noise, et cetera. That way, you get to see what they don’t want you to see in that listing and you are able to make a much more informed decision. I speak throughout, and bring a very critical eye to the Bend real estate properties that I film for clients. I’ve had people buy from overseas just strictly based on those videos, as well as from here in the States. Clients tend to love them, share them with their friends, and I’m told they are very entertaining! Bonus!
But most often, my Bend Oregon real estate clients use them as a reason to fly out or drive here rather than just doing so for something that looks good on the computer when it may be terrible in person. You get to see a real, critically focused video, not the “moving pictures” stuff that they like to show you on the listings. And in that way, you can make an informed decision on whether you want to spend the money and time to come here and look at it yourself.
Okay, there you go, a couple of valuable, but free, Bend Oregon real estate services I offer to buyers from afar. Thom Gardner, Principal Broker and Pure Buyer’s Broker And again, this has been the Bend Real Estate Minute. Thank you!

Bend Oregon Real Estate Buying Seasons


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Bend Oregon Real Estate Buying Seasons

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Hello again and welcome to the Bend Real Estate Minute! I am Thom Gardner, principal broker at

I want to talk to you a little bit today about the Bend Oregon real estate buying seasons. Now, we have several and they’re not always the same every year. It depends on what’s going on in the economy. As you know, we’re a very big vacation home and second-home market. Although these days, we’re a much larger primary real estate market than we used to be when I first started in the business. And that’s because we’re known worldwide.

We’re in various newspapers and magazines all the time now, and that didn’t use to be the case. We used to be a West Coast sort of known quantity.

So, let’s start with January, February, March, the winter season. So, generally, in January, we get a burst of business right after New Year’s. I call them the New Year’s resolution folks. They’ve always wanted to live in Bend. They’ve traveled here and they’re finally like, “This is the year! We’re going to do it! We’re going to call a Bend realtor and buy some Bend real estate!”

So, the first couple weeks in January are often busy and that leads to some closings in February. February, otherwise, is relatively slow. There’s not much on the market that time of year, so it makes it difficult for the Bend Oregon real estate buyer to find what they want.

Now, new Bend Oregon real estate listings start coming on the spring. The past few years, as the economy has been better, March, April and May have been huge. They’ve actually been the biggest months of the year in terms of real estate price increases.

So, you’re going to have static prices in January, February left over from the fall and then they’re going to explode in March, April and May, sometimes five percent a month during that period. We get the vast majority of our real estate price increases during that spring period. And that is also when more Bend homes come to market. So, you have more home inventory, but you are going to pay a higher price to get one.

Now, we get into summer. That’s when the inventory peaks, around June. And up through June, it’s very busy. In July we get what I call the tire kickers. Those are tourists who come to Bend and want to be shown around, but they haven’t really dug into whether they can afford a Bend home. They haven’t checked Bend mortgage lenders. And so, they’re tire kickers. They’re not often as serious as folks in other Bend Oregon real estate seasons.

August tends to start another busy period. August, September, October, that’s what I call the serious season. These are folks, sometimes senior citizens, who have been traveling during the summer and they want to get a Bend home and move here before winter. And those folks I love because they’re decisive. They come to town, they know what they want.

There’s still a lot of good stuff on the market in August and that starts to dwindle after September. You get into October, there’s often less on the market. November and December are the period that’s slowest here. That’s also the period when you can get the best deal.

You’re not going to get a deal on Bend Oregon real estate in spring. You are going to pay almost 100 percent for your home. It’s the same thing in the summer. You get into September, it gets a little bit better. Beginning of October, it gets better still. However, you’re now looking at homes that are left over on the market that nobody wanted, that maybe was priced too high or is an ugly duckling.

You can get a tremendous deal starting in October, November, December, the very best deals we have all year, but you also have slimmer inventory.

So, you have to decide what’s right for you! Am I looking for this specific Bend home and don’t mind paying a higher price for it, or do I just want a deal on something that might appreciate quickly?

If you just want a deal and you can settle for something that may not be exactly perfect, come in November, December and also in January and February. It starts to get a little better towards the tail end of that period. That’s when you’re going to get the best price for a Bend home. The rest of the year, March through September, you’re going to be paying full price for Bend real estate, but you’re going to have the best selection.  You can confirm what I say here on my Bend Oregon Real Estate Statistics page.

So, that’s a little bit of insight into the Bend Oregon real estate buying seasons. Again, I’m Thom Gardner, principal broker and pure buyer’s real estate broker with Thanks again and take care!

Green Remodeling Incentives

Home Energy Audits and the financial incentives available to help pay to retrofit an older home to “Green” status, and a recommendation for my buyers that they consider an energy audit as part of our inspection when purchasing a home in Bend.
I recently became certified as an Earth Advantage Real Estate Broker, which, for those who do not live in the Northwest, is a program similar to but not quite as in depth as Leed certification. Earth Advantage certifies homes with what is called an EPS score, much like the Energy Star scores you see on appliances these days. Now, there are neighborhoods in town where these EPS scores are standard, including of course Northwest Crossing. Newer homes in our area often are “green”, meaning they have a high EPS score due to modern green building techniques.

But, if like me you own an older home, you can still participate in the “green” home boom, by retrofitting your home in various ways to save on energy costs and make your home much more liveable, AND valuable. Studies show that buyers are currently willing to spend 5% more for a green home than for a standard 20th Century style home. In order to better inform my clients, and to determine what I could do and how much it would cost to retrofit my home, I participated in an Energy Audit. The lure of free money in the form of incentives from Clean Energy Works and Energy Trust, which are closely linked, was enough to get me on board. When a Northwesterner pays their utility bills, a portion goes to Energy Trust, which then pays those funds out as incentives to retrofit older homes. Clean Energy Works operates on funds directly from Pacific Power and Cascade Natural Gas, but performs the same function, and the two often work together.

The audit was suggested by Clean Energy Works (I will have links at the bottom for all of my mentions), and performed by Neil Kelly associates, which is a company that started in Portland many years ago, and performs both audits and retrofit energy remodels. They performed a blower door test, in which they add negative pressure to the home to find out where the air leaks are, duct tests, infrared sensor testing to see where cold air is flowing in and heat flowing out, and a host of other tests. The whole thing took about 3 hours.

A few days later I got my report and the recommended remedies, broken down by cost per item. To summarize, the total to retrofit my home, a 1989 built structure, was $17,500. Of that, incentives from Energy Trust, Clean Energy Works, as well as State energy tax credits (Federal energy credits have vaporized, unfortunately) would kick in $4000. Interestingly enough, they offer an option to amortize your cost, and they set it up so that the amount you pay will not be more than the amount you SAVE each month on your energy bill! Quite a nice system. My monthly payment, should I choose to go this route, is $38, the minimum they expect I would save on my monthly bills. It turns out my ducts are quite leaky, with 5 times the loss from furnace to vent as in a green home, most of my windows of course need replacing (about $7500 of the total cost), and in the 1980’s they simply did not seal homes very well. Add to that the fact that there is no insulation under the floorboards but only on the stem walls, and you can see there is a lot to do here!

Now, $13,500 might seem like a lot, but with the value of my home close to $400,000, and the fact that buyers are willing to pay 5% more at the moment for a green certified home, anything under $20,000 should be easily recouped in my case.

Which brings me to my last point, one that I believe will register with my Bend home buyers, especially those in higher price brackets. One of the largest concerns my clients tend to have is in regard to energy efficiency, as we are cold in the winter and warm in the summer here. A few years ago I could order the energy bills for prospective home purchases, but that is no longer the case as they are now considered private. So, for those who are extremely concerned about energy costs and green home living, I will now recommend that they consider having an energy audit performed during our 10 day inspection period. Whereas a standard home inspection costs about $400, an energy audit costs as little as $250, and will either set your mind at ease, or keep you from making a bad investment. Well worth it, in either case, especially for costly homes. Something to consider for the 21st Century.

As promised, here are your links!

The “Hold Your Nose and Buy” Bend Real Estate Market

Thom describes his analysis of the current and especially difficult market factors that led him to the choice to purchase a less than perfect home, rather than rent, wait, and perhaps end up with no home at all.
Last year I had a divorce that ended up in a demand from my ex wife to sell our Bend home so that she could get her equity into her pocket. I loved that house, and had put a ton of sweat equity into it. I bought it in a fixer condition, and knew that I had made a very large and tidy profit on it. So, after much gnashing of teeth and softly preparing my daughter for the loss, we indeed sold the house. Despite my admonitions to my ex wife that we would get much more money for it this Summer, we sold it in Spring, and it closed sale on April 30th.

Meanwhile, I had been looking. Homes in Bend that were perfect for what is rapidly becoming my new family, homes which I had seen for sale last Fall for $350,000 ish, were now $425,000. I was undaunted, as I was selling a $300,000 home, and my new Love was selling her $220,000 home, so we should be able to afford $425,000, right? Well, not exactly. Banks have actually tightened their lending standards since I bought in January 2011, and though we had a ton of money for a down payment, fluctuating self employment income and my Love’s full time student status brought us down to Earth rapidly- they would only give us enough to buy in the very low $300,000 range.

Now I had been using an MLS portal, the same type I set up for my clients, and I knew that 4 bedroom Bend homes in the $300,000 range with a large lot and a 3 car garage were almost non existent. When they did exist, they were in areas I simply would refuse to live, areas I know well to be problematic from my 23 years in the area. We could get a 3 bedroom, with no office for my business, and a 2 car garage, with no space for the ski boat or other “Bend” type recreational toys, and we could get a smaller lot. Not exactly inspiring stuff! After living for a month in my new Love’s house in a neighborhood where people can hear their neighbors’ conversations in their back yard, I wanted to get back to the sort of home I had sold; one with an idyllic, large back yard and outdoor entertaining space. I grew up in the Southwest, so outside is the way I like to live when at all possible.

After chasing down a few homes which we ended up being too late to nab (Seriously, the $300k range is about the worst in terms of inventory here, being about the mid-line of home purchases in Bend and having the largest demographic of the buying public perusing them), we had a choice to make, a choice I have seen clients wrestle with in recent months as well. Do I hold my nose and buy something less than perfect and try to fix its limitations, or do I rent and wait for several months hoping that inventory improves?

It did not take long to decide. Option 2 is out, and here are the reasons why.

Rising rates. We saw rates spike a quarter point in less than a week, and they don’t look to be stopping. A home we planned to buy at $325k is no longer available to us because of that quarter point jump. It puts us over the magic 45% debt to income ratio that banks use as their dividing line these days (It was 51% when I bought my last house). If we wait until next year, my guess is we are looking at 6% or so. Not a bad rate historically, but one’s buying power is crushed with each tiny tick up in rates.

Rising Prices. Prices rose 20% last year, and they have risen about 10% so far this year in Bend. With the low Bend Home inventory and so many buyers hearing the “ALL CLEAR” bell ring at the same time, they are going to rise more quickly the rest of the Summer and Fall, in my opinion. If we wait we risk BOTH rising rates AND rising prices crushing us to the point where we won’t be able to buy anything, a position I was in back in the 2005 era, where I had given up on buying a decent home here, as the median Bend home price was around $465,000.

Rising rents, fewer homes. Lastly, rents are rising very quickly in Bend as well, which is a historic change. Traditionally, rents here have been low as our economy does not support the kind of jobs that pay high rents. However, with so many people having moved to Bend in the last two years and far fewer of them buying than before, and so many others having lost their homes and no longer able to buy, the renter pool is massive these days, and since almost no new homes were built for four years here, there are fewer homes to go around. So, the same dynamic is occurring in the rental market that we see in the home purchasing market- a large demand and a tiny supply is pushing rents upward. Add to this the fact that we lose major tax benefits (both of us being self employed) by renting, and this is the last nail in the coffin of waiting to buy a home.

And so, friends, I am left with only one decision. HOLD MY NOSE AND BUY SOMETHING! And that is exactly what we are doing. We made an offer on a Bend home that needs some work (it has no furnace, just wall heaters, only 3 bedrooms when we need 4, and is only 1650 square feet, when we need well over 2000) this weekend. It came down to the same thing that ended up deciding my last home purchase- the lot. You can change a home, you cannot change (at least not in terms of size, privacy, location) the lot. This is a gorgeous lot, at the end of a cul de sac, a half acre, very private with lots of potential for gardens, greenhouses, and room for the dogs and the kids. To make it work we will have to spend a bundle to convert the garage to a real master suite, and then build a new garage next to the home. Not to mention putting in one of the new Japanese style Mini-split ductless heat pump systems.

But it does accomplish a few things. It gets me back to the West side of Hwy 97, where traffic is lighter and flows better, trains don’t stop your progress daily, and restaurants, pubs, trails, and the river are all in biking distance. It gets me back into a home like the one I had, which was very private, has gorgeous and idyllic backyard space, and has lots of quiet in the evenings and on weekends. Even better, this one is not on a busy road as was the last. And, by increasing the footage to over 2000, and bringing the 90’s styling inside the home into the 21st Century, we should have a $400,000 home by Fall, albeit with a much smaller mortgage.

So, my message is this. We are indeed in a tough market. If you are the picky type, this is not the Bend real estate market for you, though you would have loved it two years ago when my buyers (including myself) had the run of the place and could buy anything. Now, there is not much out there to buy. And time based financial pressures (rising rates, rising prices, and rising rental prices with limited availability) are all saying that if you don’t buy now, you will either get much less for your money later, or like many in the pre-boom and boom years, may be pushed out altogether. This Bend real estate market takes an open mind, a lack of fear, and a sense of creativity. Cash helps if you have it, and if you are an all cash buyer but find yourself in the same situation I am in where I can’t find what I want at my price, I HIGHLY recommend you consider a small loan at “still ridiculously low” rates, and then do like I am doing, put that cash into MAKING THE HOME YOUR OWN, MAKING IT THE BEND HOME YOU WANTED!

That way, you end up with what you want, you take advantage of low rates while they still exist, you keep the tax benefits of home ownership, and you beat the herds that will no doubt continue to come and drive our prices up for the next several years. I made 50% on my last home purchase by carefully studying the risk/reward ratio of the situation, though many did not agree with me at the time. Once again, the slight risk we are taking offers great reward, and indeed, it is a much, much lower risk than I was taking at the end of 2010. It seems a no brainer to me, and I have tried to counter argue the points above, to no avail. If you can’t either, perhaps you will agree.