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We’re wrapping up our article series on risk vs. reward for home buyers this week…the full article originally appeared last month in The Bulletin, Bend, Oregon’s daily newspaper. Picking up where we left off…

“While some potential home buyers are trying to time the bottom of the housing market, it is equally important–and sometimes more important–to time the bottom of the interest rate market,” pointed out Larry Wallace, loan officer with the Bank of Oregon, a Bend-based mortgage brokerage.

“On a $280,000 loan, a one per cent increase in interest rates–which can easily happen–will cost an extra $168 per month. That totals $20,251 over 10 years and $60,754 over 30 years. It’s an expensive lesson for waiting too long,” Wallace continued.

With underwriting guidelines becoming tighter, buyers who wait for the “perfect moment” could find they no longer qualify, he said. “That has been an ongoing problem in the past few years.”

A tight rental market in Bend has dropped vacancy rates to around three per cent, Wallace noted, leading to rent increases. “This tips the balance toward home ownership when monthly mortgage payments are equal to or less than rent.”

Wallace observed that strong demand at the lower end of Bend’s housing market is likely to forestall further price decreases. “Good deals are attracting multiple buyers and bringing about bidding wars.”

In fact, Bend, Oregon residential prices are beginning to firm up. The Bratton Report, produced by Bratton Appraisal Group, slices MLS statistics into monthly increments. After tumbling along a bottom point between December and February, the median price zigzagged upward to $210,000 in June, roughly where it was a year ago.

Optimism has governed Sandy Garner’s [owner of The Garner Group] career in real estate. “You have to be an optimist to succeed in this business. You have to dig in when times are tough. It’s an axiom that some 10 per cent of the Realtors in any given market make 90 per cent of the sales.”

The Garner Group became an independent real estate agency in January, 2008. “From a market perspective, it was an uphill climb, but we have increased business every year and are one of the most productive per-agent brokerages in Bend,” she concluded.

So what do you think? Feel like it might be time to buy Bend, Oregon real estate?