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Permits for single-family dwellings in 2017 already exceed entire amount for 2016

JASON CHANEY - These two homes under construction on Steins Pillar Drive are among the many permitted to be built in Prineville.

Crook County has enjoyed a steady increase in home construction in 2017 that has helped alleviate the housing shortage concerns faced earlier this year.

According to Crook County Building Department data, 141 permits for new single-family dwellings have been approved as of Sept. 30. This already exceeds the total of 136 for the entire 2016 year, 32 of which were approved after Sept. 30. Both numbers far exceed the 90 permits approved in 2015.

"It increased and it has just been steady," said Phil Stenbeck, planning director for the City of Prineville regarding the uptick in housing starts. He went on to point out that other housing opportunities will follow. An RV park on Combs Flat Road is expected to open in mid-October that will provide 30 spaces, and Housing Works is set to start construction on its 29-unit complex at the former Ochoco Elementary School. In addition, another developer has already completed a 12-unit, dormitory-style complex on North Main Street.

"That is another 71 of what I would call lower-income units, so we have had a little push in that area, which is good," he said.

Stenbeck went on to note that the planning department is encountering more discussion about development of single-family subdivisions. One near the local skate park featuring 14 lots seems poised for construction in the near future, he said, as trenching has begun to install city water lines on the property.

While many homes are going up in Crook County, the supply has yet to match the high demand.

Bob Layne, principal broker with The Associates Real Estate, LLC has seen many homes get built this past summer, but he notes that they are selling almost as fast as people can build them.

"Overall, for this year, we are looking at 129 days from the date of listing to closing," he said, a quick turnaround when considering it takes 40-60 days to get from the initial offer to closing.

"Most homes are getting offers within 30 days," Layne continued. "Right now, we have 3.4 months of inventory, so it is still really low. Our high was in January when we had 7.4 months. By the time we hit March, we dropped to 2.7 (months) for a low."

Layne said that the entry-level homes continue to draw the most buyers and still move the quickest.

"Anything under $200,000 is selling in weeks. When you get above $200,000, it's taking a little longer," he said. "If homes are priced right, in 90 to 120 days they are moving, which is fairly quick."

Going forward, Stenbeck does not expect to see a substantial uptick in home construction or sales, but rather a steady increase that does not run the risk of a steep decline.

"I think people are more cautious about development than they have been historically because of the boom and bust we went through," he said.

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