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Posted: Mon May 22, 2006 6:20 pm Post subject: Bend Housing Bubble
People are talking impending economic doom in Bend because everybody's livelihood seems to be somehow connected to the real estate market, which is following California's downward turn. Obviously people like contractors, developers, real estate agents and appraisers are affected but others such as lawyers (for closings), home improvement stores, decorators, furniture stores, and so on.
Sure the housing slowdown will hurt some people, but for the people that hang on Bend will become more like the town we remember. There's a large "opportunist" outsider contingent there that will not enjoy having to go in the woods and cut firewood like we had to when I was a kid, or go hunting because the family needs meat. That's how people have lived in rural Oregon for generations. That's how they'll have to live in Bend when the real estate boom is over - what else is its economy built on?
Oregon will change the Californians more than the Californians will change Oregon. It's a function of the climate and the limited economic opportunities. For example, far Northern California is culturally and economically much more like Oregon than like the rest of California. This is because, just like Oregon, it doesn't have the attractive climate, the universities, the cultural opportunities...
The developers and community promoters call Bend "Oregon's Sun Belt" but the key word to pay attention to in that promotional slogan is "Oregon's," not "Sun Belt." Calling a place "sunny" compared to Portland, the Valley or the Coast isn't exactly a pungent comparison.
They also want to build a 4-year college in Bend, which is a great idea from an economic perspective and could really sustain Bend's growth regardless of the real estate market, but I just don't think it's going to happen. The public university system needs to take care of what it already has, and no one in or from Bend is rich enough to endow a private college.
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