A5,712-square-foot château-style, two-story home on Awbrey Butte, which last sold in February 2015 for $1.35 million, is for sale again.

It comes with a built-in dog wash and kennel, home theater, cathedral ceilings and Cascades views. The house on NW Starview Drive also comes with a $300,000 remodel, upstairs and down, said real estate broker Laura Blossey , the listing agent, of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, in Bend. The current owners are moving for job and family reasons, Blossey said.

The asking price today is $1.85 million, and the sellers can likely expect to get an offer close to that, according to trends in the Bend luxury home market.

“Last year, there was a 12 percent average residential price increase (in Bend),” Blossey said. “The year before was the same.”

The market for luxury homes in Bend is hot, even as prices of luxury homes elsewhere in the nation are, on average, coming down.

Sellers in Bend were asking about 7 percent more in May for homes priced at $1 million or more than they asked in May 2015, according to the Central Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

The Aubrey Heights neighborhood, on the slope of Awbrey Butte and reaching east to the Deschutes River near First Street Rapids Park, claimed the highest average sale price for the last six quarters, according to Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate brokerage firm. One home there sold for $1.5 million.

In Century West, the southwest Bend neighborhood that includes the Broken Top subdivision, 30 homes sold for an average $1.02 million, more homes above $1 million than any other Bend neighborhood.

For the 12 months ending in May, an average 97 homes priced $1 million or higher were for sale each month in Bend, according to MLS data. Of 23 homes in that category listed as sold or pending in May, the sale price was on average 95 percent of the asking price.

“I think we’ll still have a good, strong market in the years to come,” said Brandon Fairbanks , general manager with Coldwell Banker Morris Real Estate, in Bend. “It’s interesting because in an election year, you see a lot of caution, especially now. So the fact that we still see a relatively active market shows a true demand.”

In Bend, 43 homes priced more than $1 million sold in the 12 months ending in May, according to the Beacon Report, a monthly analysis of home sales in Central Oregon. For the same period, 76 homes priced between $750,00 and $1 million were sold.

For the 12 months ending May 2015, 37 homes in Bend sold for more than $1 million, and 62 homes sold for between $750,000 and $1 million, according to the Beacon Report.

By contrast, 21 $1 million-plus homes sold in the 12 months ending May 2014, and 36 priced between $750,000 and $1 million.

“Another interesting number is the months of inventory actually decreased,” Fairbanks said. “In May of 2015, we had 32 months of inventory (of homes priced $1 million or more). We’re down to 8.3 months now.”

Across the country, prices for the most expensive real estate actually declined by 1.1 percent in the first quarter, according to Redfin. Redfin defines the luxury market as the priciest 5 percent of home sales. For 2015, the average sale price in Bend in that bracket was $1.07 million, 10 percent higher than the year before, according to a Redfin December report.

Meanwhile, home prices in the same category nationally fell 2.2 percent in 2015 for the first time in three years, according to Redfin.

Generally speaking, high-end buyers took a timeout as more luxury homes came on the market. A shaky stock market is one factor, Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson was quoted as saying in a Redfin news release in December.

The price decline for high-end homes continued this year. In San Francisco, for example, where tech executives count part of their wealth in stocks, home prices in the top 5 percent fell 4.7 percent over the first three months, according to a Redfin report in May.

In Bend, sale prices in that category were 0.7 percent lower in the first quarter compared to first quarter 2015. The other 95 percent of the Bend real estate market saw prices increase 6.5 percent, according to Redfin. In Bend, 237 homes priced between $250,000 and $400,000 were sold in the first quarter, according to the Beacon Report.

While demand for luxury properties is chilling elsewhere, Bend’s popularity as a retirement or telecommuting destination for high-income newcomers continues to fuel appetites for high-end homes.

Blossey and Fairbanks said Bend is still relatively inexpensive on the high end compared to feeder cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. Buyers in that category typically have the patience and resources to wait for what they want. Newcomers to Bend often cash out of home equity they hold elsewhere to make the move, they said.

“Most (buyers) are coming from Seattle and California; I had one from South Carolina,” Fairbanks said. “Interestingly enough, there are a lot of move-up buyers, people selling homes they have equity in now and buying up.”

At a recent presentation for a new client selling another home priced at $1.8 million, Blossey said she laid out the most likely picture of a buyer: newcomers to Oregon or Bend, a retired couple that want extra space for visiting grandchildren, or a family that’s willing to pay for quality and value. Cash still rules, but even high-end buyers are taking advantage of low mortgage interest rates, she said.

Even builders are returning to the high-end market, said Blossey, who is building a custom home on speculation in Tetherow.

The National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released Thursday for June, found the highest level of confidence among homebuilders nationwide since January. The association also found labor shortages in the construction industry and a shortage of buildable lots, both complaints frequently heard in Bend, as ongoing concerns.

However, Blossey and Fairbanks said they count on a bright outlook for Bend’s housing market overall.

“I’m really optimistic for more than the next six months,” she said. “We’ll be strong with the amount of people still moving here and still building their own custom homes. It still feels that we have more than enough buyers for the homes we’re trying to sell.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

14244086