The Central Oregon Real Estate Market Local Experts Share Insights


((L-R) COAR members Lara Riner, Suzanna Fierstos, Doniella Cox, Crystal Brae, Ashley Neff, Allison Rayburn and Kennadi Dieter at the REALTOR Volunteer Days in June 2022 at a volunteer site with Bend Remond Habitat for Humanity building Redmond townhomes | Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Association of REALTORS)

The Central Oregon real estate market is one that evolves very quickly. For homeowners, potential buyers, tenants, realtors and other people involved in the industry, it seems like there are constantly new updates, rules and legislation that affects their lives. Luckily for us, there are plenty of knowledgeable local individuals and organizations who make understanding this industry their job. One such association is the Central Oregon Association of REALTORS.

Also called COAR, this association of realtors is an organization that represents 2,373 realtors across the state. COAR is a recognized member of the greater national organization, the National Association of REALTORS.

“The Bend-Deschutes County Realty Board was originally organized on May 10, 1927 and was elected to membership by the National Association of REALTORS at their August 9, 1927 Board of Directors meeting,” said COAR President Brent Landels. “At some time between their original application and 1930, the board was changed to the Bend-Redmond Realty Board. On December 15, 1939 the board applied to the National Association of REALTORS to become the Central Oregon Real Estate Board covering Bend, Redmond and Prineville.”

Since their inception, COAR has gained significant territory; the organization now covers all of Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler Counties, excluding the portion that lies within the boundaries of the Warm Springs Reservation.

“In the early 1900’s, mortgage and real estate fraud was rampant and many local boards throughout the country came together to form the National Association in 1908,” Landel said. “The fraud, speculation and lack of regulations in the industry were the driving force to create an organized real estate industry as well as creating the ability for our organizations to exert a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests.”

In the modern day, COAR provides buyers and realtors with expert knowledge, advice and information. “First and foremost, we own and operate the Multiple Listing Service of Central Oregon,” Landel said. “Additionally, COAR offers a robust offering of educational programming for our members — offering more educational courses than any other real estate board in the state of Oregon.”

Further, COAR encourages their members to get out and get involved in their respective communities. As a result, over 80 percent of COAR members regularly spend some of their freetime volunteering for local nonprofits.

Landel also said that COAR has a government affairs program that operates on many different levels of government to advocate for their members, “we advocate to protect private property rights and the public’s ability to buy and sell their properties as they choose.”

Looking at the Central Oregon real estate market, Landel said that we are poised for growth, “People love Central Oregon and all it has to offer. It seems we will continue to see an influx of new neighbors for the foreseeable future. The cities that are taking a proactive approach to growth, and providing a variety of housing types that allows the public to decide how they want to live their lives, will see the most growth.”

Brian Ladd, principal broker at The Ladd Group and Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, added to this discussion of growth and helped explain how our current market is growing, speaking on house prices.

“Softer prices at the end of 2022 and here in 2023 were the outcome of a few driving factors, primarily an unwinding of an unsustainable runup in prices during the pandemic and the Fed policy of increasing interest rates to drive down inflation,” Ladd said. “While many factors affect housing prices, the primary factors are quite simply supply and demand. We have far too few homes in Bend for more affordable housing and demand is still far from being satiated.”

However, Landel would argue that this insufficient supply has been artificially manufactured, “In Oregon, we have artificially restricted supply for 50 years.”

When addressing the obstacles in place for building new homes, Landel mentioned our “antiquated” land use laws, “It is now common for it to take three years to get a new neighborhood through the process. When I started selling homes in 1989, the process took about three months. The carrying costs for those delays have to get passed along to the homeowner for the builder/developers to stay in business. Additionally, there are now several layers of restrictions and guidelines that have removed any flexibility for developers to be able to creatively respond to market conditions.”

Ladd echoed this sentiment, mentioning that any factor that slows inventory growth, such as, “State-driven land use laws, cost of developments and construction, etc…” will limit available housing.

For Bendites looking for more affordable housing, both Ladd and Landel said that the City of Bend is working on many new initiatives that push for high-density, mixed use urban development, along with subsidizing new housing projects. While this can provide housing opportunities for many people, there is concern that these solutions are barring people from the dream of homeownership.

For potential new homeowners and people looking to purchase property, Landell said, “having an industry expert on their team can help relieve the uncertainty and angst that everyone goes through. Buyers and sellers should not be afraid to interview more than one licensed broker to find the right fit for their personality and needs. Typically, a person’s home is the largest investment they will make in their life. They deserve to have a great broker by their side.”

Ladd added to this advice, urging new homebuyers to, “be patient, don’t panic and don’t just buy a home because it is competitive. Make sure you are not risking your financial future and don’t be afraid to rent while you make a plan. The high interest rate environment is slowing sales and there are some buying opportunities this year we have not seen in several years if you can afford the rates. As well, there are seasons of decreased buying activity like fall and winter and generally the best deals are found when no one else is looking.”

On a final note, Ladd added that there has been a bit of hypocrisy in our local market.

“Nobody likes high housing prices and we are all part of the problem,” he said. “This is a demand issue and while Bend remains attractive, this problem will continue unless we speak up for smart and continued growth. Being fully anti-growth while wanting low housing prices is contradictory and we all need to acknowledge our own hypocrisy here. Getting involved, welcoming change and making your voice heard on how and where it can happen will make you a proactive part of the solution while preserving this amazing community and landscape.”


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