I have been hoping that this is the best month to buy a home in Bend, Oregon, because we just did that. No one can predict the future, but there are some things which are obvious. One of those is that the large number of people who were born in the ten years after the end of World War II—here in the United States they are usually called Boomers —are now entering retirement age.
Most standard retirement communities are probably living in a stasis situation at present, where those coming in and those checking-out are in balance. The reason is that the year 1935 had the fewest births of any year in the last century and so there are relatively few people in the retirement communities. But, with this new influx into that particular age-group-defined situation, the demand for housing and all the other amenities that old people will seek out will create a boom situation.
At my age I will probably live to see these boom conditions develop, but will probably not live long enough to see the boom develop into a sustained elder community at the higher population level. There almost certainly will develop an elder boom situation, and those positioned in the right places will get in cheaply and those who come in a few years later will pay premium prices.
Bend, Oregon, is almost certainly one of the great places to be retiring into at the present time. It has a pleasant climate, with four distinct seasons that are not particularly violent. It is a safe and quiet low stress community with a good infrastructure. Its popularity has been founded, in part, on the natural beauty of its surroundings, with ski resort atmosphere in the winter and golfing and mountain sports in the summer.
The advantage of purchasing a home at this time, for a retiring person, is that the prices took a relatively large fall during the housing bubble bust of the last few years. That was caused because of Bend’s relatively large dependence on the tourist trade, and as that slowed Bend’s job market dropped precipitously. Without jobs, the homes being purchased on mortgage couldn’t be paid for by unemployed workers dependent on a paycheck and so they went into foreclosure. That is terrible for those previous owners who needed a steady income, but good for those people retiring who had saved enough money to purchase a home outright and then have enough left over from various retirement funds to live on.
There are currently 90 homes for sale in Bend with 1600 square feet of living space priced between $200,000 and $250,000. That is approximately an average home in Bend, OR, so there are similar numbers above and below that price range. However, in Berkeley, CA, there is nothing in that price range and a home similar to the one in the click through would approach $1,000,000.
Note the near flat price trends for Berkeley as seen in the generalized green or yellow lines and the enormous price bubble for the average of Bend homes. Also note that the last year the price trend in Bend has been flat and Berkeley’s has been dropping. My suspicion is that Berkeley is in a long-term stable situation and that Bend, as a choice retirement destination, will trend up over the next ten years.
As I was writing this post, one of my favorite cities, Christchurch, New Zealand, was hit by a devastating earthquake. As mentioned in several of my previous posts, I don’t want to own a home on the Hayward fault, which the geologists say is due for a major quake; renting has been worrisome enough. The Hayward fault quake may prove to be the greatest natural disaster in United States history, because the entire length of the fault runs through heavily populated areas, including Berkeley. You pay a big price to live in Berkeley. Bend is remote from all major quake zones and is not expected to ever receive more than a modest shake.
For old people who can manage that monetary hurdle, Bend is a great place to retire.