About half the home sales in Bend last month were short sales or bank-owned properties, continuing a trend since May but improving from the 74 percent peak in so-called "duress sales" reached in February 2009.
Bratton Appraisal Group said Multiple Listing Service data shows that during most of 2009, short sales and sales of bank-owned properties totaled upward of 60 percent of the houses sold in Bend, The Bulletin reported.
In nearby Redmond, Madras and Prineville, duress sales account for an even larger share of the market.
In Redmond, the rate hit a high of 87 percent in January, while Prineville peaked at 90 percent in January and May 2010, and Madras climbed all the way to 100 percent of the market during five months in 2009 and 2010.
Duress sales had eased by September in all four central Oregon cities.
Bend was at 52 percent, Madras 60 percent, Redmond 77 percent, and it was 84 percent in Prineville.
Donnie Montagner, a residential appraiser at Bratton who compiled the data, said he hopes the overall drop in the rate of duress sales means the housing market is stabilizing.
"We're seeing some kind of positive movement here," he said.
But notices of default continue to mount and remain higher on a year-over-year basis, which is keeping Montagner cautious.
From January through September, 3,031 notices of default were filed with the Deschutes County clerk's office, a 12.8 percent increase over the first nine months of 2009.
The short sales and sales of bank-owned properties are a stark contrast to the recent housing boom in central Oregon, when a vast majority of home sales were traditional, newly built homes.
Patrick Trowbridge, a broker at the DuBois Wicklund Group in Bend, said the shift is necessary because there's a glut of homes on the market.
"It ain't pretty, but we're processing" the extra homes on the market, Trowbridge said. "We need to unwind what we've wound up there."