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Tuesday’s edition of The Bulletin includes a graphic revealing that February building permits declined 63% in Bend. The Bulletin, however, didn’t think this statistic important enough to warrant an actual news story.

Building permits are a leading indicator for the real estate market and certainly for building-related jobs. With 63% fewer houses being built this season, where will all the contractors find work? With 63% fewer houses beign built, what will all the realtors sell? What will appraisers appraise, etc., etc.?

Thus begins a vicious cycle. The opposite, in fact, of the virtuous cycle that helped propel the local real estate market so far so fast over the past few years. The real estate slowdown will force people to look for work elsewhere. They will put their homes on the market adding to the already burgeoning supply. The additional supply will further weaken prices causing an even more dramatic decline for real estate-related industry and so on and so forth.

Rather than being, “a bit insulated… because of our construction and our boom and our growth,” as politician Oran Teater would have us believe, Bend will be uniquely hard hit. And I have no doubt that the old axiom will hold true: “it used to be that when the state caught a cold, Bend caught pneumonia.”

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