People relocate to Bend, Oregon for a variety of reasons. There’s the world-class recreation, 300+ days of sunshine per year, pristine mountain air, laid-back but active vibe, and much more. Most of the people who live here wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
If you’re reading this article, perhaps you’ve already felt the pull. Maybe you’ve already paid a visit and felt something akin to true love. It’s clear that you and Bend are meant for each other, written in the stars that shine bright above the snow-capped Cascades.
Maybe your reasons for making the move are more pedestrian. You’re being transferred, have found a new job, or are starting school at OSU Cascades.
In either case, before you and your loved ones pack your bags and set off west, north, south or east to inhabit your own little slice of the Bend Life, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-prepared.
Relocation can present challenges both practical and emotional. There’s bound to be a few bumps in the road even if you’re moving from one home to another in the same city, much less another state or even country.
With the right approach, though, the rewards can be just as deep. You’ll definitely want some expert guidance and a few pairs of helping hands on the ground. That, of course, is where we come in.
Start by reading the following tips below, and for more personalized guidance, contact our Bend office today. We’re sure that you’ll be feeling at home in no time. That’s our goal for all of our clients, and we hope to help make your relocation a smooth one.
Step Number One: Know What You’re In For.
“Be Prepared” is not only the official Boy Scouts motto, it’s pretty good advice for life in general. How well do you know Bend? Depending on just where you land, your experience of the Bend Life could vary dramatically.
Ideally, you’ve already spent time here. During the summer months, try taking a tour of the city via kayak or intertube. Take a more winding and sudsier path through the city streets on the Bend Ale Trail Beer Tour. Climb Pilot Butte and gaze upon Bend from up high, or better yet, Mount Bachelor or one of the Sisters Mountains.
Failing that, the best thing you can do is talk to a local. All of us at LOHR Real Estate know Bend pretty well: we’ve seen firsthand its transformation from a quaint little mill town into the bustling outdoor and cultural mecca that it is today.
We’ve also designed our website to be a real resource for potential buyers and sellers in the Bend area, because we know that it’s super important to be well-informed. For a basic primer, check out our guide to Bend Neighborhoods or peruse our Bend Blog.
What you’re really going to need to wrap your ahead around though, is the housing market, particularly if you’re looking for affordable housing. More on that in a bit.
Step Number Two: Find a Place to Land, Probably a Rental.
Let’s be honest: deciding whether or not Bend is right for you is probably the easy part. You’re either really into it or you’re kind of indifferent. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably in the former category (or maybe Eugene is more up your alley?)
Actually finding a landing place is where it gets tricky though. Unless you have plenty of financial resources (and a knowledgeable Realtor) you’ll probably want to get whatever foot in the door you can to start with. That probably means finding a rental before you leap into the real estate market.
That’s easier said than done though. It isn’t that it’s impossible to find a rental in Bend. You’ll just find some pretty stiff competition. That’s especially true if you’re looking to land in Bend’s cultural and geographic heart immediately to the east and west of the Deschutes River.
A proliferation of ADUs–additional dwelling units–has provided much-needed new housing in Bend’s city center. But while ADUs come in a small package, they still aren’t particularly cheap. And as attractive as they are to young professionals, you may have to beat the odds to get your foot in the door.
If you’re willing to head to northeast Bend, you’ll find an easier rental market, with the bulk of the city’s new construction and apartment complexes.
But you’ll still need to make sure to save your pennies. According to rentcafe.com, the vast majority of Bend apartments are in the $1,000-1,500 range, with an average of $1,165. According to Zillow, home rentals average $1,850 across the city.
If finances are tight, you might consider looking at rentals 16 miles north of Bend in Redmond. There, apartments and homes rent for around $300 a month less than Bend. But Redmond’s market is continuing to inch closer and closer to its larger sibling to the south.
If possible, spend a couple of weeks in Bend house or apartment-hunting and keeping your eyes and ears open. You’ll need to have a good enough sense of what you want that you can put in an application at the earliest possible moment.
Looking for a rental from outside Bend is definitely possible, but you’ll definitely want a helping hand on the ground. Many Bend rentals require a viewing beforehand. We’re more than happy though to look at properties on your behalf, connect you with rental owners, and help you work out the myriad logistics of relocation.
Most rentals in Bend are managed by one of several handfuls of larger property management companies. Especially if you’re still looking for a job, have less than stellar credit or a non-traditional income source, things can be tricky.
Contact managers beforehand and try to find out if you have a chance prior to throwing money down the drain paying application fees. Know which companies allow you to apply to multiple properties with a single application. Be on the lookout for owner-managed rentals, and establish a rapport with the owner.
If you start to lose heart, remember why you’re looking in the first place. The Bend life is yours for the taking, and once you’ve landed here, you can expect a warm welcome.
Step Number Three: Get Moved in, then Go Out and Explore
Packing and unpacking isn’t generally the easiest or fastest part of relocating. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to reorient to your new surroundings and explore the different shape your life will take.
Once the dust has finally settled and you’ve started to feel more at home, it’s time to start spreading out your roots. You’re in Bend for a reason, so go out there and connect. Get to know your new neighbors both near and far, including the flora and fauna that populate the rivers and mountains around Bend.
At some point, though, it’s going to be time to get down to business. For some of you, this step might involve finding employment or even starting your own business. There’s some good news in that arena though.
According to Forbes, Bend’s recent job growth sits at 3.9%, making it number one among small U.S. cities. Bend is also among the nation’s fastest-growing cities and is expected to hit 130,000 people by 2030.
These figures, coupled with a growing stream of tourists from all four corners of the globe, make Bend’s economic forecast is a sunny one.
Small businesses, from retailers, restaurants, breweries and artisans to professional services, outfitters, and tech start-ups and are thriving. In total, they represent a whopping 78% of the workforce for the greater Central Oregon region.
That’s great news for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit or looking to move away from the corporate world. But there’s plenty of jobs in medicine and education as well, especially with the growing student population of OSU Cascades, Oregon State University’s satellite campus.
Step Number Four: Start Navigating the Bend Real Estate Market
You probably saw this coming from a mile away, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint. Real estate is our expertise, our livelihood, our raison d’etre. We’re here to help you find your home and feel at home, both in the literal and metaphorical sense.
In between deciding that you’re ready to own a home and actually owning one, there are any number of necessary steps. Even before you arrive at that decision, there’s a lot of necessary homework involved (excuse the pun.) And we’re happy to say that we’re here for you whether or not you’re firmly committed to home ownership. Not many Realtors can say that in earnest!
It may sound counter-intuitive, but we suggest that you consider working with an agent earlier rather than later in the home-buying process.
For different reasons, people tend to avoid working with an agent until they absolutely have to. We understand: nobody wants anyone breathing over their shoulder, pressuring them into something they feel uncertain about.
But our advice is simply to stay away from Realtors with that kind of vibe. You’re the boss. Interview multiple agents, and pick someone with whom you’re totally comfortable.
Nowadays, of course, a lot of folks begin their home search by researching the market on their own. Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Realtor.com and so forth are great resources for prospective home buyers. But the caveat is that online listings can be highly deceptive.
You won’t actually know what a home is really like until you step foot inside. And unless you’re a professional contractor, an experienced agent will notice a lot that you probably won’t. They’ll also be able to translate what they see into monetary value.
Knowing whether a home is over-priced or under-priced is absolutely crucial when it comes to setting your own expectations and, later, in making a successful bid. Importantly, your Realtor can connect you with a trustworthy lender who will help you figure out just how far you can stretch your finances.
Basically, to know whether you’re ready to own a home, you’ll need to know the conditions of the market and just how much bang you can get for your buck. Dive into the market without assistance of a professional, and you risk developing unreasonable expectations.
Crucially, you also won’t know what you want until you’ve seen at least a handful of homes. More likely, you’ll need to see several handfuls of homes before it’s clear what your real priorities are.
The thing is, Bend has a highly competitive market. Most likely, you won’t find anything that checks off all the boxes unless you’re really lucky. Since you’ll probably need to make some compromises, it’s crucial to know just where you’re willing to compromise and where you absolutely can’t.
Basically, we suggest that you don’t start looking at homes with the idea that you’re going to be throwing bids around right away. No need to fear: we’ll get there in due time. But in the beginning, let your Realtor help you feel your way into the market.
It’s true that some agents don’t want to work with buyers who aren’t firmly committed. The solution is simple: don’t work with those agents!
We, for one, are more than happy to help orient you. We love showing homes, whether or not it ends in a sale. That’s why we’re Realtors!
Step Five: Get Ready to Make an Offer
As we’ve pointed out, a lot of people these days are “stealth buyers,” meaning they browse online listings for a while, find what they think is “the one,” then do a drive-by. If the place looks good from the outside, they’ll then dial the listing agent’s number off the sign.
For people who are knowledgeable about the real estate business, though, that approach raises some red flags. The first issue is that these folks have possibly set themselves up for disappointment. What are they going to see when they get inside? And if they’re working with the listing agent, how likely is he or she to say how much it’s really worth?
When an agent is working with both the buyer and seller, this is what we call “dual agency.” It has a kind of sneaky, spy movie feel to it, doesn’t it?
Realtors are of course required to deal with these situations as ethically and impartially as possible. But clearly, it’s preferable to have someone working for you exclusively and not for the seller.
Think about it this way: how can a single Realtor both 1) get their seller the highest price and 2) get you, the buyer, the lowest possible price? Working with a separate buyer’s agent just makes sense.
Now, if you’ve followed our advice up to this point, you’ve already been inside plenty of homes with your Realtor and really honed in on what you want and can afford. Congratulations: that’s practically half of the battle.
But let’s say a promising new listing pops up. Your Realtor gets you inside right away. It’s not quite perfect, but you’ve seen enough of the field to know that this could be the one. Your spouse or partner agrees (let’s not neglect that part.)
It’s time now to make an offer. This, of course, is where the rubber hits the road.
Competitively-priced listings in Bend can often go off the market in days. That’s especially true if you’re fishing for properties on the more affordable end of the spectrum (we’ve outlined the dire state for affordable housing in Bend in another article.)
That’s why all of the prep work you’ve done up to now is so crucial. You have to be ready to pull the trigger when the right place comes to your attention.
Don’t be trigger-shy, but also don’t be trigger-happy. Your agent, knowing you as well as they do by now, can help steer you away from properties that strike a temporary chord but have issues that might bring unhappiness further down the line.
Our advice for making an offer is simple: don’t make an offer that you’ll regret. A skilled agent will have a good sense of how much you’ll need to offer in order to compete. But it’s up to you to decide whether you can make that offer or whether you’d rather lowball it.
For deeper insights on making an offer, hop over to our article “Tips for Home Buyers in a Tight Real Estate Market.”
Check it out, and also get in touch with us. We’ll work with you from Step Number One all the way through Step Number Five, and even beyond.
We’re still giving advice to clients who worked with us almost ten years ago! This is a journey that never really ends, and we’re here to help out every step of the way.