It’s a trend we’ve seen before. When things get overwhelming in the big city, it’s time to escape to the country.
Based on a recent real estate study, that seems to be the case in Crook County.
According to a study performed by Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner, home sales in Crook County have increased by 16.8% between the second quarters of 2021 and 2022.
That’s compared to no change in Jefferson County, and a 21.1% drop in Deschutes County.
Crook County home prices also dropped by 1.1% in that same time period, versus a 21% rise in Deschutes County and 3.4% rise in Jefferson County.
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Jason Lee purchased a home in Prineville at the beginning of March this year with his wife and two young sons after moving from Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
“We wanted to stay out of the larger cities, even though Bend’s not huge, but we wanted to kind of stay in a smaller community even though it is developing here a bit more,” Lee said. “We liked the idea of being close enough to a larger town and larger city, but not being stuck downtown.”
Another perk was the price of housing, which was one reason they decided to move from Lake Tahoe.
“The real estate market there was changing so much and things were so expensive, and if we wanted to upgrade to a three bedroom, the prices were just absolutely insane,” he said.
Although it was slightly more than anticipated, Lee added, the prices in Prineville were far more realistic.
“It was nice seeing them and not being just overwhelmed by the price,” he said.
Three-bedroom homes in the new Ochoco Pointe neighborhood where Lee lives are on the market for an average of $400,000 to $500,000.
Joe Becker from REMAX Out West Realty in Prineville said the uptick in home buying this year is the tail-end of a trend that started in the summer of 2020.
“We started to see a lot of people making decision really quickly and houses moving, prices jumped up, and it seemed like we couldn’t keep a house on the market,” he said. “Back in the beginning of this year, I think we started to see a slow down as far as that goes, where interest rates started to change a little bit and people started to be more hesitant on making a decision.”
He said that the slow-down is also an indicator of a return to a “normal market”, in which buyers have ample time to make a choice about a house.
“It’s becoming more of a normal real estate market in that you’re not just sticking a sign out front and then you have five offers by the end of the day,” Becker said. “People are taking the time to think about their decision, to think about the housing market and to make sure it’s the right place with the money they’re investing.”
Becker said the average time for a Crook County home to be on the market right now is between 45 and 60 days.
The clients he’s seen have come from all walks of life, and have had a variety of reasons for moving to town.
“I’ve seen families with young kids, I’ve seen retirees. They may be moving from a bigger city or they may be retiring,” Becker said. “A lot of the clients are looking to get out of a busier pace. The lower taxes than some of the neighboring counties is a benefit. They may work in Bend and Redmond, the availability to live here and still commute in a reasonable time is appealing.”
He said the increase in new businesses in town is also a help, as it brings more jobs to the area.
“We have a lot of commercial businesses that are growing, retail businesses that are growing, new businesses coming in,” Becker added. “Wild Ride Brewing just opened up a location in Prineville. We’ve had some other food courts that have expanded, other businesses that are looking at Prineville as far as relocating there for growth. There is that growth going on, but not so much that it’s taking away from the community feel that we have in Prineville.”
The community feel is a major reason that Lee has enjoyed living in Prineville so far.
“The community has been really nice and everyone has been really really friendly, I haven’t had any negative interactions with anyone,” he said. “It seems to be really family-oriented too, so we feel safe here with other people and with having the boys and everything.”
Despite market crash predictions, Becker said he doesn’t expect much change for the housing market in the area.
“The trends we’ve seen, the research we’ve done, the experts we follow…the indication is we’re not expecting another crash like there was in ’08, ’09,” he said. “Will there be some adjustment to the price and adjustment to the market, I think so, but not so much that you’re going to notice it.”
He expects the market to remain strong throughout the next year based on the current research.
“If you’re in a position to buy then buy, if you’re a in a position to wait then wait, but there’s no guarantee what it will look like tomorrow,” Becker added. “Make the decision based off of your best information, your best resources, and be comfortable with that decision.”