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Sunriver Is Oregon’s Most Desired “Zoom Town”

"People are going, ‘Oh my gosh, I can finally live in this place where I’ve vacationed.’”

Vacation Homes

Sector spending increase: 3.9%

Parvaneh Kalantari usually finds Sunriver relaxing. She enjoys the Central Oregon resort town so much, she hoped to buy a second home there—a place to escape her job as a Portland real estate broker.

But it's hard to find solitude in Sunriver now. For the past two weeks, Kalantari, 36, has been shopping in the middle of a vacation home-buying frenzy.

"There is not one single listing under 650 in Sunriver right now," she says. "It's the perfect storm of historically low interest rates plus zero inventory, and people that are going a little stir-crazy in the Portland metro area. When something pops up, it grabs everyone in the market who's looking. Which is me, unfortunately."

Across Oregon, vacation towns are running out of housing stock. It's true in Hood River, in much of Deschutes County, and along the Oregon Coast. They're part of a phenomenon known as "Zoom towns": When you work from home, home can be anywhere with a strong Wi-Fi signal and a house you can afford.

And no place in Oregon is experiencing this trend as intensely as Sunriver, a planned resort community in the Ponderosa pines 21 miles south of Bend.

"I've been doing real estate here for five years," says Alexandria Bolden, a Sunriver broker. "It's never been like this. Things are just flying off the market. They're going for over asking price, multiple offers, a lot of cash buyers—in the first week. It is incredible. People are going, 'Oh my gosh, I can finally live in this place where I've vacationed.'"

Lindsay Morin, who works with Bolden at Fred Real Estate Group, says many of her buyers are selling their homes in large cities, keeping a condo, and taking advantage of the flexibility provided by remote work.

"I had a buyer a couple of months ago, and he works for Netflix. They basically have been told that they will be working from home until July 2021," Morin says. "They've got these San Francisco incomes, but they can work remotely. So why not move to Central Oregon?"

This raises a question: Are most of these buyers from California? Bolden and Morin burst into laughter.

"Overwhelmingly, it's California," says Morin. "More than 50%."

Sunriver has already seen a steady influx of newcomers: 21% of homes in the town have been owned for less than two years. But the third quarter of 2020 in Sunriver saw the most home sales since 2007, just before the housing bubble burst.

So Kalantari is spending her winter vacation in an idyllic torment: She's in a beautiful place where every available property gets plucked away.

"My kids haven't been anywhere since March, and I have four," she says. "It's just nice to be away, and there's snow here. It just reaffirms the reasons we want to have a second home here. And everybody else does too, clearly."

THREE MEASURES OF THE SUNRIVER HOUSING MARKET

Median home price

Third quarter of 2019: $506,000

Third quarter of 2020: $550,000

Number of homes sold

Third quarter of 2019: 46

Third quarter of 2020: 83

Average days on the market

Third quarter of 2019: 48

Third quarter of 2020: 8

Source: Fred Real Estate Group

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Sunriver is Oregon's Most Desired "Zoom Town"