Rebuilding Bend

Dozens of Bend subdivisions changed hands after the housing crash

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

Published: January 27. 2013 4:00AM PST

Source: Deschutes County Clerk's Office Greg Cross / The Bulletin
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Source: Deschutes County Clerk’s Office Greg Cross / The Bulletin

A handful of developers have found opportunity in Bend’s housing market crash, buying up more than 900 home lots left vacant by the housing market crash.

They snatched up a majority of the lots in two-dozen subdivisions across the city of Bend between 2009 and 2012, an examination of Deschutes County deeds records shows.

In 18 of the 24 subdivisions, the previous developer lost the properties to foreclosure after the housing market fizzled and collapsed in 2008, according to the records examined by The Bulletin.

The crash followed a frenzy of new subdivision building to accommodate Central Oregon’s population boom. In Bend, 333 subdivisions were platted between 2000-09, according to the city. From 1990-99, 136 were platted.

Property values plummeted — sometimes to as little as 10 percent of a parcel’s pre-recession value — sparking a flurry of new activity by developers.

Chet Antonsen, owner of Group PacWest Homes in Bend, teamed up with Troutdale developer Guy Wolcott in March 2012 to buy 53 of the 91 lots in the adjacent subdivisions Northcrest and Southcrest, near Boyd Acres and Fred Meyers roads.

They paid $1.1 million for the lots through a short sale, county records show, or about $21,300 per lot.

“We kind of saw that we were starting to head out of the bottom” of the market several months into 2012, Antonsen said. He and Wolcott have received building permits on nine lots in the subdivisions since March, according to Bend Community Development Department figures, nearly the same number as during the previous three years combined.

“I saw the market turn about the first part of April last year,” Antonsen said.

Low mortgage rates and depressed home values have led to a surge in sales on Bend homes priced at $300,000 and under, several developers and real estate officials said.

More than 78 percent of the homes sold in Bend last year went for $350,000 and below, according to figures from the Bratton Appraisal Group.

Perhaps no buyer has been busier in Bend’s subdivision market than a collection of Southern California investors that includes U.S. Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., and Harry Crowell, a California homebuilder. They formed Long Term Bend Investors, LLC in July 2009, and went on a buying spree, spending more than $6 million to purchase nearly 400 home lots in seven Bend subdivisions, many out of foreclosure, according to county records.

A Canadian investor has gotten in on the buying, as well.

Ender Ilkay, a Vancouver, British Columbia, investor and founder of Cedar Coast Properties, jumped into Bend’s market last year. He paid about $1.6 million for 102 home lots in McCall Landing, a largely undeveloped subdivision off Northeast 18th Street.

Ilkay and Bend development partner Pahlisch Homes got 13 permits for new homes in McCall Landing last year, more than had been issued the previous five years, Bend building permit records show.

They plan to release 25 more lots in 2013, Ilkay said, meaning that as many as 25 lots could be permitted for home construction if they can find buyers.

“After evaluating real estate opportunities throughout the Western U.S., we ultimately decided that the most attractive destination for our investment dollars is Oregon,” Ilkay wrote in an email to The Bulletin, “with the Bend area being our first choice for recovery and future growth.”

The activity by the investment groups and others has started to shrink the supply of open lots in Bend — though plenty remain for single-home buyers, said Andy High, vice president of government affairs with the Central Oregon Builders Association.

Bend has between 2,500 and 2,700 planned-but-undeveloped home lots today, High estimated, down from about 3,500 in 2010.

Reducing the inventory has prompted prices to start creeping back up from the bottom, said Terry Denoux, owner and principal broker of GoBend Realty. They’re still fairly low — probably less than 50 percent of their pre-recession average — but the land prices are directly tied to housing inventory, Denoux said, and could keep rising if inventory drops further.

Bend had about eight months of housing inventory at the start of 2010, Denoux said, meaning it would take eight months to sell all the homes on the market based on the sales pace that year.

Inventory today is about 2.9 months.

“We’ve been at that level for the better part of a year now,” Denoux said. “That means prices are starting to creep up. Builders have been snapping up these subdivisions and are getting their toes back in the water.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com