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Mesa County real estate update: Sales steady, but dollar volume down

Annette Miller

Real estate sales held steady in Mesa County during the first half of the year, but the combined dollar volume of those sales fell compared to the first half of 2010.

The effects of large transactions skewed the numbers. But the median sales price of residential properties continued to drop in part as a result of foreclosed properties on the market.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time industry observer, said she expects little change in the local market until the inventory of foreclosed properties shrinks and unemployment rates decline.

According to statistics compiled by Miller, 1,283 real estate transactions worth a combined $270.3 million were reported in Mesa County during the first half of 2011.

The number of sales was down about 1 percent from the 1,295 sales reported during the first half of 2010. Dollar volume, however, was down 11 percent from the $304.1 million in sales in the first half of last year.

Miller said the drop in dollar volume reflects the effects of large real estate transactions. The first half of 2010 included the purchase by Laramie Energy II of more than 1,500 acres east of Collbran for $12.65 million. The largest deal during the first half of 2011 was the purchase by Summit Materials of various assets of Grand Junction Pipe & Supply for $6.4 million.

There were 16 sales for more than $1 million each during the first half of 2011 compared to 20 such transactions during the same span last year.

At the same time, though, residential home prices also have dropped. According to statistics from the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association, the average sales price of a residential property in Mesa County during the first half of 2011 fell to $187,229, down 11.8 percent from the first half of 2011. The median sales price for residential property dropped 14.4 percent to $162,500.

For the first half of 2011, most single-family home sales — 323 — occurred in the price range of $150,000 to $200,000. Another 269 sales were reported in the range between $200,000 and $300,000.

Property foreclosure activity has played a role in depressing prices, Miller said, since foreclosed properties tend to sell for less than comparable properties on the market.

Foreclosure activity in Mesa County is slowing, though.

Miller said 561 foreclosure filings were reported during the first half of 2011, down about 25 percent from filings reported during the first half of 2010. At the same time, though, 499 confirmation deeds were recorded at the completion of foreclosures during the first half of 2011, up 3 percent from last year.

Residential construction activity in Mesa County continues to slow as well. A total of 143 building permits for single-family homes was issued during the first half of 2011, down about 28 percent from the 199 permits issued during the same span last year. Just 14 commercial building permits were issued during the first six months of 2011, one more than last year.

The volume of real estate-secured loans issued in Mesa County held steady during the first half of 2011 at 3,312, two more than the same span last year.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2011, Miller said she doesn’t expect any substantial changes in real estate activity until the inventory of foreclosed properties is exhausted and labor conditions improve.

In June, the latest month for which estimates are available, the unemployment rate in Mesa County edged up a tenth to 9.9 percent.


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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