News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

If the second half of September is anything like the first half, home sales in zip code 97759 will surpass records.

If the second half of September is anything like the first half, home sales in zip code 97759 will surpass records. While single family home sales in Bend and Redmond appear to be calming, the market in Sisters remains red hot.

The median price of homes in Bend dropped $15,000 to $635,000 from July to August according to Beacon Appraisal Group, while homes in Sisters Country rose from $600,000 to $665,000.

The median price is the one favored by analysts. It is the midpoint for sales, meaning in August half of the 35 zip code 97759 sales were under $665,000 and half over $665,000. Using the average can be very misleading as it only takes one super-size sale to skew the data. The Sisters market had eight sales over $1 million last month, raising the average to $821,000.

Already in September, of the 24 recorded sales, six (25 percent) are $1 million or more. And the median thus far is rising again from $665,000 to $697,000. Realtors say this is unsustainable. They have said that for months now. Of the 63 real estate listings for 97759 today, more than half (34) are priced at $1 million plus, with 11 over $2 million and two for over $5 million.

More distressing, realtors say, is the price per square foot. As recently as last year, there was a decent supply of homes in the $300/square foot bracket, and high-end finishes meant about $350. Today the average price per square foot for homes on the market locally is $397.

ClearPine, a 97-unit development on Sisters’ north side has a new listing for an $850,000, three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,807 sq. ft. home: $470.39 per sq. ft. When developed just four years ago, ClearPine marketed itself as homes in the high “3”s to low “5”s.

Around the corner, Grand Peaks who broke ground in 2019 with homes marketed in the “high 500s” now offers homes for as much as $925,000. One, a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1,780 sq. ft. home is offered at $779,000 or $435 per sq. ft.

Pine Meadow Village, one of Sisters’ premier subdivisions, cracked the $1 million sales price some time ago and today you can buy a four-bedroom on S. Birch Street for $1,295,000. Even a lot on W. Hood Avenue is set to sell at $487,872. Two Pine Meadow homes, on the market only weeks, are sale pending at $849,000.

Low lending rates are also enticing buyers. Rates for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage are as low as 2.375 percent and only 1.75 percent for 15 year fixed in Sisters, with plenty of lenders.

Tales of bidding wars abound.

“They’re not new in Sisters,” said Guy Lauziere, broker at Ponderosa Properties. “It was common before this year to get multiple offers on a property. Only then we were seeing who was closest to the asking price. Now it’s who’s most above the listing price… Sisters is where a lot of people want to be.”

Lauziere agreed that it’s the basic law of supply and demand.

“For the last 12 months we simply have many more buyers than sellers.” In this market he says: “We won’t even show a home to a buyer who isn’t prequalified — a deep qualification.” He means a buyer who has had a tri-merge credit check, employment verification and asset validation, not just a friendly letter from a lender.

Marina McCurdy, a principal broker at Cascade Sotheby’s, like Lauziere, sees the frenetic bidding somewhat subsiding. She too sees the issue as one of inventory.

“There just aren’t enough properties, especially inside the City limits. There’s hardly anything left to build on,” she said.

That is critically true with homes in the sweet spot range of $400,000 to $699,000 there being only 10 such properties currently in all of Sisters County. That’s less than a third of current listings over $1 million.

She shared the frustration when homes go into a bidding frenzy.

“We have to shield sellers from the onslaught of offers, many unqualified, and the plaintive letters and phone calls buyers make to get seller sympathy for their offers,” she said.

McCurdy said that she’s seen as many as 20 would-be buyers on a hot property, but usually the seller is given a carefully screened list of four or five offers from which to decide.

Lauziere told us how industry rules prevent sellers’ agents from disclosing the number of offers or the price of each to a buyer’s agent unless they get specific approval from the seller.

“We see many more listings now,” Lauziere added, “where the private notes on a listing only brokers can see specify that the seller will accept offers until such and such a time — usually 72 hours.”

That means: “Make your best and final offer,” said McCurdy. In that way the aggravation factor goes way down and the process is much more orderly than dozens of offers and back and forth counter-offers.

With Sisters’ quality of life attributes, nobody expects the frenzy to end any time soon.


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