▶️ Wacky school schedules spurring long-term tourists; home sales skyrocketing too

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Hotel occupancy rates in Central Oregon are down 16% this summer compared to last, but vacation rental home activity is up about 8% over last year.

The numbers confirm what locals have been saying, there are a lot of tourists visiting our region this summer…this despite the City of Bend repeatedly asking tourists not to come here.

What’s more, home sales are skyrocketing too.

“When the pandemic hit, we noticed a huge amount of tourists who wanted to get out of the metropolitan area,” said Kent Elliott, Executive Director Sunriver Chamber of Commerce. “I think in a lot of instances families were looking at Disneyland or Sunriver and at that point it became a no-brainer.”

Elliott believes many families are choosing to visit Sunriver for its easy access to the outdoors and family-friendly atmosphere.

With everything that’s going on in the world, locals should expect visitors to linger longer this summer.

“Yes. September occupancy rates are up 17%,” said Robert Bennington, CEO and owner of Bennington Properties. “All rental managers I’ve spoken with in Bend and Sunriver are seeing an uptick in September occupancy.”

Bennington says the September spike in vacation rental home activity is spurred by unusual school schedules in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With virtual learning parents are saying, ‘We might as well do it from someplace we can enjoy some time together and get use of the nice weather.’ Another trend: Longer stays, a month or more. A lot more people are looking to stay longer than normal.”

“It’s the craziest I’ve ever seen it,” said Ginny Kansas of Ginny Kansas Real Estate in Sunriver.

The local real estate market is exploding due to low mortgage interest rates, more people working from home and moving to desirable areas such as Central Oregon.

The demand is driving down the supply of available homes and pushing up prices.

“It’s a seller’s market. We have to wear tennis shoes and run all day,” Kansas said. “Even escrow is writing us on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, lenders are working until 10 or midnight.”

Kansas says she knows of one home in Bend that had 23 offers.

She says many homes are selling for up to $50,000 over asking price.

She doesn’t expect the real estate market to cool until after this November’s election.

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