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Is resort building out of control?

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Your publication had a story [ANOTHER RESORT ON TAP FOR CENTRAL OREGON, OCTOBER] on destination resorts in which industry advocate Linda Swearingen informed the magazine that she believes the market for resorts in Central Oregon has yet to peak. “You don’t come in on a wing and a prayer to develop these resorts,” she stated, suggesting that the continued pursuit of land use approvals for destination resorts is evidence of true long-term demand.

We have our doubts. No one even knows if all the lots being approved in resorts are going to sell. Although lots sales remain strong for now, home construction is lagging considerably behind as many owners begin to question their investments. Is the market going to hold up? Is the region over-built? And will long-term supply actually be there once baby boomers go to sell? It’s hard to say anyone has any real answers to these questions, but concern is certainly mounting.

It’s useful to note that resorts make the bulk of their money on lot sales. It doesn’t take many lots before the developers find themselves in the “windfall” category. Is it possible that there is a mad rush for resorts because each development wants to get its lots sold before the market reveals its cracks?

Whatever the case, it’s disappointing that the major limitation to this industry seems to be speculative demand for lots, not overall impacts to Central Oregon and its residents.

Erik Kancler
Executive director,
Central Oregon Land Watch

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