The average cost of a home in Jefferson County has steadily increased for the past few years.

HOLLY M. GILL - Ali Alire, principal broker at Signet Realty, has been seeing an uptick in residential sales over the past year.For homeowners looking to sell their properties, last year was a good year. Sale prices of residential properties in Jefferson County in 2016 were up, days on the market were down, and demand exceeded availability.

According to the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, there were 125 residential properties of less than one acre sold in the county in 2016 — down from 146 in 2015, and 133 in 2014, but the average sale price continued to climb.

In 2016, the average for a one-acre residential property was $144,037, up 11 percent from the previous year's average of $128,783, which was up slightly from the 2014 average of $127,344.

The number of days on the market averaged 111, down from 117 in 2015.

In some locations in the county, people are showing interest in buying, but there aren't enough properties for sale.

"I think there's a lack of inventory, but there's a really decent amount of buyers," said Ali Alire, principal broker at Signet Realty, of Madras. "There's a lot of local ones that are selling their smaller homes and moving up, and quite a few from the Bend area that feel like Bend is too saturated and expensive; a lot of them are going for the small-town feel."

At Three Rivers, there were 138 residential properties of less than an acre sold in 2016, with an average price of $412,989, compared to 110 properties in 2015, with an average price of $389,550. Properties were on the market an average of 125 days in 2016, down from 146 in 2015.

Crooked River Ranch had only three residential properties of less than an acre sold, with an average sales price of $304,000, compared to two in 2015, with an average price of $194,450. On average, properties sold in 108 days in 2016, down from 142 in 2015.

Residential properties of more than one acre represented a smaller share of the sales in Jefferson County (65 sales) and in Three Rivers (26), but a larger share at Crooked River Ranch (57). The larger properties also were on the market for longer average periods of time — 257 days for the 65 Jefferson County sales, 208 days for the 26 Three Rivers sales, and 137 days for the 57 CRR sales.

The average sales price for a residential property of more than one acre in the county was $282,803 in 2016, up from $271,611 in 2015. At CRR, the average residential property of more than one acre was $269,484, up from $246,384 in 2015. Three Rivers had an average of $469,219 in 2016, and $435,353 in 2015.

Countywide, excluding Crooked River Ranch, there were 242 single-family residential properties sold in 2016, at an average price of $180,723, and 232 sold in 2015, at an average price of $157,246.

"By anybody's estimation, it was a great year," said Mike Ahern, real estate broker at Coldwell Banker.

"We only have 52 listed homes on the market, and of this, only 19 listed below $200,000," Ahern said. "Our problem is we do not have enough inventory of homes to purchase, especially in the price range many of our buyers are able to purchase in."

"We need builders building affordable homes," said Ahern, who expects continued strong sales for 2017, provided that interest rates remain low, and the economy remains strong.

Rick Allen, a commercial realtor with Lowes, and owner of Willow Canyon Properties, said that there is a shortage of properties for both sale and rent.

"Bend has gotten so ridiculously high, it's shoving people to the outlying communities to buy," said Allen. "We've lost (rental) units through sales to home ownership; rental units have been declining."

With the booming construction business in Bend and Redmond, Allen said there's a shortage of builders in Jefferson County.

Alire agreed that there aren't enough local builders. "The builders I normally work with are choosing to build in other areas where there's a larger profit margin," she said.

But there are bright spots in the tight market.

"Yarrow has a ton of great, affordable lots available," Alire said. "There are builders willing to come down to Madras, but they don't want to build a spec home; they would rather build to suit their customers."

Just west of Yarrow, more than a dozen homes will be going up, which Allen anticipates will be in the $200,000-$225,000 range.

"We do have a Bend builder who just bought 14 lots up in Kinkade Crossing," he said, noting that the contractor bought all the available lots and is going to start building in the spring.

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