Big year expected for Mesa County real estate

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity continues to accelerate in Mesa County en route to what two industry observers expect could rank among the top years ever for the local market.

“It will make its mark,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said 2018 could end up among the top three years in terms of transactions and dollar volume.

The year is certainly off to a fast start.

For April, Miller said 518 real estate transactions worth a combined $138 million were reported in Mesa County. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 15.9 percent and dollar volume increased 30.6 percent.

Several large transactions were reported, Miller said, including the sales of the Picture Ranch mobile home park in Clifton for
$3.75 million, two properties in Grand Junction with storage units for a total of nearly $2.2 million and an industrial warehouse in Grand Junction for almost $2.2 million.

Through the first four months of 2018, 1,703 transactions worth a collective $431 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2017, transactions increased 22.5 percent and dollar volume rose 31 percent.

The Mesa County real estate market peaked in 2005 in terms of the 7,198 transactions that year and in 2006 in terms of the more than $1.7 billion in dollar volume, Miller said. But 2018 could come close, she said.

Unlike the prior peak, recent growth in the real estate market isn’t driven by a boom in regional energy development or increased use of adjustable rate mortgages, she said.

Bray said 1,147 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $299 million were reported in Mesa County through the first four months of 2018. Compared to the same span in 2017, transactions increased 12.7 percent and dollar volume rose 25.1 percent.

The median sales price of residential transactions during the first four months of 2018 increased $20,000 to $233,000, a 9.4 percent gain that tops the previous peak for Mesa County, Bray said.

The average time on the market for a listing dropped 19 percent to 60 days.

Bray said the inventory of existing homes on the market remains low — the 823 active listings at the end of April constituted only a two-month supply at the current pace of sales.

The pace of new home construction continues to increase, though, Bray said. The number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County through the first four months of 2018 rose 66 percent over the same span in 2017.

Although interest rates on mortgages potentially could dampen sales if rates increase, low inventory levels have yet to slow activity, Bray said. He expects year-end numbers for transactions and dollar volume for 2018 to top 2017 and potentially rank among the highest ever for Mesa County.

An increase in people moving to Mesa County, primarily from the Front Range and Denver metro area, has bolstered growth, he said. They’re selling their previous homes, buying similar or better homes in Mesa County and pocketing the difference.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow in Mesa County. Miller said 104 foreclosure filings and 68 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County through the first four months of 2018. Compared to the same period in 2018, filings fell 27.3 percent and sales dropped 36.4 percent.

So far in 2018, the resales of 34 foreclosed properties represented less than 2 percent of all transactions — far less than the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.

Bray said property foreclosure activity has dropped to its lowest level in years and poses no effects on the market. “It’s just insignificant.”

The Business Times has served as the definitive source for Grand Junction business news since 1994. The journal offers news, views and advice you can use twice each month in print with daily updates online at www.TheBusinessTimes.com
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