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C.O. Realtors outline COVID-19 impacts, say homes are still selling fast

Bend home construction 42820
Barney Lerten/KTVZ
Home construction in Bend is still proceeding at fairly normal levels, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Despite 'overall contraction of the market,' shift to virtual showings

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon's new home listings fell markedly in April, compared to a year ago, and sales were down somewhat as well, Realtors reported Monday. But with the two figures roughly in alignment, homes are still selling fast in a "robust seller's market," they added.

Here's the Central Oregon Association of Realtors' report on how the market is shaping up so far this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

The first quarter of 2020 was shaping up to be a strong year for real estate in Central Oregon according to data from the Multiple Listing Service of Central Oregon. Sales for residential properties in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Harney counties were up 14%, compared to 2019:

First Quarter 2020 vs. First Quarter 2019

  • Active Listings up 5%
  • New Listings up 28%
  • Pendings up 13%
  • Solds up 14%
  • Median Sales Price up 8%

With the Stay Home, Stay Safe order coming in late March, April data shows the first signs of how COVID-19 is impacting the market.

April 2020 vs. April 2019

  • Active Listings down 14%
  • New Listings down 39%
  • Pendings down 34%
  • Solds down 5%
  • Median Sales Price up 4%

With the strong first quarter, the overall market shows lower inventories and steady median sales prices:

January-April 2020 vs. January – April 2019

  • Active Listings down 5%
  • New Listings up 3%
  • Pendings down 2%
  • Solds up 8%
  • Median Sales Price up 7%

In analyzing property views on websites where MLSCO data is syndicated, online listings views were down 15% in April 2020 compared to April 2019, with 66% of those views coming from Oregon, California and Washington. 

Central Oregon Association of Realtors members remain optimistic about the market going forward.

Susanna Abrahamson, a broker at Duke Warner Realty and COAR state director, said, “Locally, we have seen an overall contraction of the market.  This means new listings and pending sales are down, but in line with each other, so we are still in a robust seller’s market, with low inventory across the board and homes generally selling quite quickly.”

The absorption rate in Deschutes County for April 2020 was 2.99 months, down 19.41% from 2020. The absorption rate shows how many months the current inventory of properties would last at the current rate of sales, with no new inventory.

Lenders are learning to adapt to a market filled with uncertainty. Buyers may find it harder to qualify for a loan, as Mike Smith of Prime Lending noted “mostly for the borrowers who were previously challenged. For example, government loans (such as FHA and USDA) increased their minimum FICO scores by 20 points in recent weeks. That’s one of several changes that make for tighter lending rules.”

In March, there were 3.2 million forbearance requests, about 6.2% of all mortgages, according to Larry Wallace of Axia Home Loans. If considering forbearance, Matt Mitchell of Mid Oregon Credit Union suggests contacting “your servicer right away and ask what programs they have available. Making the contact early gives the servicer time to assist you before the account becomes delinquent."

"Remember that deferring payments does not stop the interest from adding on to the account," Wallace added. "The deferred payments will change the whole structure of the loan, and the interest will be due at payoff.”

Trena O’Bill of Finance of America noted, “A positive I see is that for the people that still have the jobs and have equity, they are able to lower their payments and make monthly cash flow better.  For the buyers that feel secure in their income, I see this as a good time to buy and be able to negotiate a good price.”

All lenders we talked to observed that rates are still at historic lows and any movement in the rate market will be very gradual.

Across the industry, Realtors, appraisers, lenders, photographers, inspectors and title companies moved all services possible to virtual formats in late March. In-person showings are down 50% from April 2019. 

Total Real Estate Group VP of Marketing Mandy Davis noted that their office is finding success through offering virtual tours and making sure buyers are pre-approved before showings. Members are requiring gloves, masks, booties and hand sanitizer during showings.

Danielle Powell, Duke Warner Realty broker and Bend Director with COAR, said, “When working with my sellers on existing or new listings, I ask them how they would like to be protected for showings during COVID-19. Based on their request, we are posting signs on the front door, providing gloves and booties, asking buyers to go directly to a specified sink, wash, dry with the provided paper towel and place in the wastebasket provided.”


The Central Oregon Association of REALTORS® (COAR) is your voice for real estate in Central Oregon. COAR is a trade association serving the professional needs of its 2000+ members.  In addition, COAR is dedicated to enhancing and protecting the real estate industry.  COAR believes we can build better communities by supporting quality growth, seeking sustainable economies and housing opportunities while protecting a property owner’s ability to own, use, buy and sell property. The Multiple Listing Service of Central Oregon (MLSCO) servers the areas of Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Harney Counties.

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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