Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

Since Sept. 30, 2016, Bend has …

942 apartments completed

245 apartments under construction

1,691 apartments proposed

Source: Bend Community Development

Construction is underway at The Alexander, an apartment complex for people 55 and older on the east side of Bend, in the heart of the medical district.

The 136-unit complex, expected to be finished in the spring, is part of what appears to be a much fuller pipeline of apartments than even a year ago. With close to 1,000 apartments completed in the last two years, one developer thinks Bend could become a renter’s market. And recent rental data backs up that notion.

Bend Community Development counts 2,878 units completed, under construction or proposed over the past two years, according to a report generated Sept. 30. That’s 30 percent more than were in the pipeline at the same time in 2017.

And the number of apartments completed during the report’s two-year window — 942 — could be having an impact on rents. Rent growth has slowed nationwide, but even more so in Bend, said Chris Salviati, housing economist at Apartmentlist.com.

The most recent report from San Francisco-based Apartmentlist.com found that rent growth nationwide slowed to 1.3 percent in November, compared with 2.8 percent a year before. In Bend, rents grew at a pace of 0.5 percent, both year-over-year and month-over-month.

“That slowdown is a bit more extreme in Bend,” Salviati said. “From July through September, we were actually reporting negative rent growth in Bend.”

The median rent for a two-bedroom unit in Bend is $981 per month, according to Apartmentlist.com, which draws on Census data and its own listings data.

It’s conceivable that Bend is on its way to becoming a renter’s market, said Chris Looney, vice president of development at Paradigm Properties in Eugene.

“We’re seeing it in our class ‘A’ stuff in Portland,” Looney said. “Rents are down; concessions are up. It’s a renter’s market.”

Paradigm has one apartment complex on the east side of Bend and is close to gaining city approval for 64 units on SW Chandler Avenue, near OSU-Cascades. Despite all the apartments built since Paradigm came to Bend in 2014, Looney said he still sees opportunity.

“The demand is still there,” Looney said. “We’re optimistic about the continued growth of OSU-Cascades.”

Although rent growth is slowing on average, not every landlord has the same experience, Looney said. Properties built in the 1970s and ’80s will lose out to new construction, he said.

The hundreds of new apartments built over the past two years don’t come close to meeting the needs of Bend’s future population, according to a city of Bend analysis.

The city projected that between 2008 and 2028, it would need 5,838 more multifamily units. Only 23 percent of those units have been built, according to the city.

By comparison, the city is 59 percent of the way toward meeting its need for 9,175 more single-family homes.

Bend’s urban growth boundary expansion required a number of code changes to encourage more dense housing. Real estate developers appear to be responding, as 1,691 apartment units have been proposed over the past two years, according the Community Development Department.

“The tweaks are potentially working,” said Lynne McConnell, affordable housing manager for the city of Bend.

But half of those units are in the “pre-application” stage, which means a developer has met with city planners to discuss an idea, according to the Community Development Department tracking report. It doesn’t mean a formal application will follow.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com