Real estate activity increasing, but pace of residential sales slowing

Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Buoyed in part by large commercial transactions, real estate activity continues to increase in Mesa County. But slowing in residential sales reflects lower inventories and higher prices.

“It’s still a healthy market, but it’s tapering off a little bit,” 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 she expects year-end numbers for 2018 to still top 2017. “I think we’re just going to keep going at this pace for the rest of the year.”

Miller said 547 real estate transactions worth a combined $191 million were reported in Mesa County in July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 5.2 percent and dollar volume soared 51.6 percent.

Seven transactions accounted for a total of nearly $52.4 million in dollar volume. Those included the sale in Grand Junction of the Canyon View Medical Plaza adjacent to Community Hospital for $31.5 million, a commercial building at 445 W. Gunnison Ave. for $13.2 million and a mining manufacturing facility located at 2306 U.S. Highway 6 & 50 for more than $2 million.

Even removing the seven large transactions from the calculation, dollar volume still increased 14 percent in July compared to the same month last year Miller said.

Through the first seven months of 2018, 3,408 real estate transactions with a collective $927 million were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same span last year, transactions rose 11.1 percent and dollar volume climbed 27.5 percent. Transactions valued at more than $1 million each accounted for a total of $111 million in dollar volume in 2018 and $44 million in 2017.

If the current pace of activity were to continue through the end of the year, 2018 would end with 5,842 transactions worth a total of nearly $1.6 billion. The Mesa County real estate market peaked in 2005 in terms of the 7,198 transactions and in 2006 in terms of the $1.7 billion in dollar volume.

Bray said 347 residential real estate transactions worth a total of almost $94.8 million were reported in July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions slipped 6.7 percent and dollar volume rose 4.2 percent.

Through the first seven months of 2018, 2,368 residential real estate transactions worth a combined $628 million were reported. Compared to the same span last year, transactions have increased 5.6 percent and dollar volume has grown 16.2 percent.

Still, residential real estate transactions have declined on a year-over-year basis for the past two months. Bray attributed the decrease to three factors: low inventories of existing homes on the market, higher prices and fluctuating interest rates.

There were 940 active listings of homes for sale in Mesa County at the end of July, down 3.6 percent from the same time last year, Bray said. The median price of homes sold through the first seven months of 2018 increased 9.3 percent to $235,000, he said.

Low inventories and the resulting lack of choices for homebuyers have contributed to higher prices, Bray said.

New home construction continues to increase, but not yet enough to keep pace with demand, Bray said. For July, 62 single family building permits were issued in Mesa County, up 17 percent from the same month a year ago. Through the first seven months of 2018, 490 single family building permits were issued, up 32 percent from the same span in 2017.

Like Miller, Bray said he expects year-end numbers for 2018 to top 2017. But the proportional gain for transactions could be smaller than in years past — perhaps 4 percent to 6 percent.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow in Mesa County.

Miller said 160 foreclosure filings and 107 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County through the first seven months of 2018. Compared to the same span in 2017, filings dropped 33 percent and sales retreated 37 percent.

The 66 resales of foreclosed properties during the first seven month of 2018 constituted just 2 percent of all transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate 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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