Mesa County real estate activity continues to accelerate

Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity continues to accelerate in Mesa County with large year-over-year proportional gains in sales and dollar volume.

“The good times continue,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

While low inventories affect the market,  the overall trend is expected to continue.

“I don’t see slowing,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Miller said 353 transactions worth a total of $84 million were reported in Mesa County during February. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 33.2 percent and dollar volume rose 37 percent.

Several large transactions were reported, Miller said, including the sale of two warehouses, one for $2.5 million and the other for $1.4 million, the sale of a farm for $1.5 million and the sale of two apartment buildings for a total of $1.2 million.

The February numbers bring total real estates sales in Mesa County so far in 2018 to 728 transactions worth a cumulative $179 million. Compared to the same two-month span in 2017, transactions increased 34.1 percent and dollar volume increased 37.9 percent.

Bray said a total of 461 residential transactions worth a combined $119 million were reported in Mesa County for January and February. Compared to the same span in 2017, transactions increased 27 percent and dollar volume jumped 43.4 percent.

The median sales price of residential transactions rose 9.7 percent to $227,000.

Bray said increased consumer confidence, attractive interest rates on mortgages and mild weather all have contributed to increasing real estate sales.

Miller said improving labor conditions and a more diversified economy have created what she sees as sustainable growth in the real estate market.

At the same time, though, low housing inventory levels have slowed what could be even faster growth.

Bray said there were 699 active residential listings in Mesa County at the end of February. That’s down 18.9 percent from the same time last year. The average time a listing remains on market has dropped 22 percent to 71 days.

The market has changed, Bray said, in that most people looking for new homes were also selling existing homes, maintaining something of an equilibrium. The sale of foreclosed properties also added to inventories.

These days, a growing proportion of buyers come from outside Mesa County — primarily the Front Range of Colorado. They’re buying houses in the market, but not selling them, he said. Foreclosure sales have dropped.

An increase in new home construction will fill some of the gap, Bray said, but not enough to keep pace with sales.

Looking ahead, Bray and Miller said they expect real estate activity to continue to increase, although the proportional gains could be smaller.

“If there’s a supply, we definitely have the demand,” Miller said.

Even as real estate activity continues to increase, foreclosure activity decreases.

Miller said 29 property foreclosure filings and 18 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County during February. Compared to the same month last year, filings rose 20.8 percent, but sales dropped 50 percent.

So far in 2018, 50 filings and 37 sales have been reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2017, filings declined 15.3 percent and sales decreased 15.9 percent.

So far in 2018, there have been 14 resales of foreclosed properties — just 2 percent of all transactions and well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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