“Zoom towns”, a new term that you can add to your lexicon. These are scenic places experiencing a surge of house hunters. Booming demand comes from workers freed by the pandemic to work from home long term. One place where the pandemic has charged greatly, an already hot real estate market, is Bend, Oregon.
“I think ‘Zoom town’ very accurately captures the experience that we’re having right now,” said Brian Ladd, a Principal Broker with Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty in Bend.
“For anyone that had interest in moving to a town like ours, that plan was greatly accelerated because of COVID,” Brian Ladd said in an interview over Zoom. “When they were able to work remotely, or they were forced to work remotely, all of a sudden it became an option.”
Brian Ladd’s observations are shared by brokers in some outdoorsy, vacation destinations around the Pacific Northwest. Zoom towns could include Sunriver and parts of the Oregon Coast besides Bend.
The housing market nationwide has shown remarkable strength in 2020, driven by low-interest rates and desire among buyers to acquire more elbow room. What distinguishes the Zoom towns is strong in-migration this year from larger locales. At these destinations, home sales since late spring have gone on a tear, resulting in very low inventory and rapidly rising housing prices.
In Bend and surrounding Deschutes County, the average residential home price in October was up 17% year over year. The median sales price in October in Bend was $560,000. Brian Ladd said the average number of days on the market for desirable homes to go pending is around five days, which means many homes get multiple offers.
“What it felt like is it really unleashed a whole wave of people who had had the dream of moving and living in a beautiful place like this, and it seemingly all happened at once,” said Brian Ladd.