Yesterday, after showing property in Three Rivers South, I was able to sneak in a visit on the final day of the first weekend of the COBA Tour of Homes. The tour, organized by the Central Oregon Builders Association, has been a summer staple for years. Not only is it a free, fun way to satisfy the voyeur in all of us (who isn’t curious to see how other folks live?), but it’s an ideal opportunity for those considering building a new home or buying new construction to check out the latest home-building trends in Central Oregon (to be featured on the tour, a house must have been completed within the past 24 months).
2014 COBA Tour of Homes in Bend ORBecause the tour draws from many of the area’s best-known builders (including Pahlisch Homes, Pacwest, Sun Forest, Greg Welch Construction, Norman Building & Design, SolAire Homebuilders, Tyee Development, Woodhill Homes and Timberline Construction, among others), it’s also a great chance for folks in the market for a new home to compare the various builders’ styles. And, believe me, there are key differences in their design and construction approaches.
On this gorgeous summer day, I wasn’t the only curious tour participant — not by a long shot. At a Tetherow home on Blurton Court, its beautifully landscaped courtyard was littered with shoes of all sizes (the “shoes-off” policy is standard for new construction — we don’t want to mar those gorgeous new wide-plank wood floors!). Inside, navigating from room to room was no mean feat; the crowd was elbow to elbow. But then, this was a high-end custom home designed by longtime Bend favorite Norman Building & Design, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many people.
Speaking of big numbers, this summer’s tour is especially large — 58 homes spread across Central Oregon (last year, there were 45). The bulk of the tour sites are in Bend, but there are also a handful in Redmond, plus one or two in Eagle Crest, Prineville, Powell Butte, Terrebonne and Caldera Springs. (Alas, once again, there are no featured homes in Sisters.)
One of the great things about the tour is its diversity — there are homes to tour in just about every size, style and price point. The least expensive option comes in at $169,950 (found in Prineville’s Ochoco Pointe subdivision), while the most expensive home on tour tops out at $1.4 million (actually, there might be others priced even higher, but many of the higher-end properties have already sold and their sales prices aren’t included).
When it comes to size, the tour homes range from 400 square feet (a one-bedroom kit-home Accessory Dwelling Unit by Hayden Homes offshoot WiseSize Homes) to 4,500 square feet (a two-story, five-bedroom spread in south Bend built by Pacific Home Builders).
2014 COBA Tour of Homes in Bend ORSome noteworthy home design features incorporated this year: elaborate outdoor “living rooms,” flex rooms, solar systems, metal roofs, a kitchen backsplash with waterfall feature, an outdoor grotto, no-maintenance Kynar metal siding, and an in-home gym. The most popular trends here? Quartz countertops, reclaimed wood, and high-efficiency water heaters and furnaces.
The tour resumes next weekend: Friday, July 25, from noon-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, July 26-27, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Printed tour guides are available at the Bend Bulletin offices; a map and detailed info for each tour home are also on view at the COBA Tour of Homes website.

About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.