Oregon oceanfront homeowners testing the waters: Is asking $1,200 a square foot

Six months after a custom home on a cliff overlooking the Oregon coast was completed, the owner decided to test the waters: Could she benefit more from selling her new contemporary house in a hot market than living with relaxing ocean views?

She decided to cash out.

In August, the three-bedroom residence called the Cove House on South Beach Road in Neskowin was listed for sale at $2.2 million.

An offer was accepted in September and on Oct. 1, the deed changed hands for $2 million.

The difference between the asking and sale price was $200,000, but more important is the cost per square foot, a measure used to compare similar properties.

The value of a home is roughly estimated by the sale price divided by the home’s livable square footage. Generally, garages, attics and unfinished basements are not counted.

In this case, if the 3,015-square-foot dwelling sold for $2.2 million, the price per square foot would have been $730. Instead, it sold at $663 a square foot, which is still more than double Portland’s $305 median listing home price per square foot, according to Realtor.com.

“Top-end home prices are floating up per square foot across the country,” said Seth Belsey of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, who listed the Cove House with colleague Leslie Roper Green.

On the Oregon coast, $400 a square foot used to be rare, “and now we’re cresting $700,” Belsey said.

Isolation during the coronavirus pandemic spurred people to place a premium on scenic properties. Making high-end houses and condos within reach are low mortgage interest rates, stock market gains, existing homes to trade with escalating equity and retiring seniors with “boomer money,” said Belsey.

“People with assets are spending money as they want to,” he said. “The coast has beauty, fresh air and space to be with friends and family. When people get down to the deepest level of their desire, that’s what they want.”

Hopeful buyers of coastal properties are also interested in having a vacation getaway. “This is a robust market for a second home,” said Belsey. He lives near his grandmother who bought her Pacific City cabin in 1961.

Buyers from Portland, Salem, Bend and out of state want to know if short-term rentals are allowed. “The second most frequent question: ‘Is it in the tsunami zone?’” he added.

For the Cove House, the new owner is from Oregon and visited the area often as a child on family vacations, said Belsey. The elevated, 9,583-square-foot lot is a mile walk to Proposal Rock beach and a 15-minute drive to the south Cascade trailhead.

“Everything was done to the nines,” he said of the house with 16-foot ceilings in the living room, oak floors and a fresh air system. Expansive Milgard Essence windows draw in natural light and take advantage of the 20-mile view across Pacific City to Cape Lookout.

The Northwest contemporary house was designed…

Read MoreOregon oceanfront homeowners testing the waters: Is asking $1,200 a square foot

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