Real estate activity picking up

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity has picked up in Mesa County in part on the strength of large commercial deals.

The number of transactions edged up in February compared to the same month last year, while the combined dollar volume of those deals surged more than $10 million.

“It was good February held its own,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time observer of the local real estate industry.

The increase snapped a four-month string of year-over-year declines in real estate transactions and a three-month string of decreases in dollar volume.

 Miller said 209 real estate transactions worth a collective $49 million were reported in Mesa County during February. Compared to the  same month last year, sales transactions edged up nearly 1 percent and dollar volume increased almost 24 percent.

Five transactions worth a total of $10.2 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. Those deals included the sale of warehouses and industrial parcels on Railroad Avenue near 22 Road for a total of $4 million and the sale of a motel along Horizon Drive for $2.1 million.

In February 2013, only one transaction topped $1 million, a deal worth $2.3 million.

Counting the numbers for the first two months of 2014, a total of 399 transactions worth a collective $85.4 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2013, transactions remain down more than 10 percent, while dollar volume lags almost 7 percent behind.

Miller said a number of factors likely contributed to slowing in the Mesa County real estate market over the past several months, including inclement winter weather. Uncertainty over the effects of the new federal health care law likely prompted some people to put off decisions on home purchases until the knew how much they’d have to pay in monthly insurance premiums.

The February numbers reflected a return to the pace of real estate activity last year, which Miller said she anticipates likely will continue through most of this year.

While residential sales could lag, she expects commercial sales to increase.

For all of 2013, 3,589 transactions worth a total of $770 million were reported in Mesa County, she said. Those totals were the highest since 2008, although still far below what was at that time a robust real estate market.

By the end of the year, the 2014 figures should approach the 2013 numbers, Miller said. “I think it will be real close.”

Another encouraging factor is the continued decline in property foreclosure activity, Miller said. “That’s good to see.”

For February, 44 foreclosure filings and 52 foreclosure sales were recorded in Mesa County, she said. Compared to the same month last year, filings dropped 17 percent although sales ticked up 4 percent

For the first two months of 2014, a total of 95 filings and 97 sales were recorded, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2013, those numbers constitute a nearly 16 percent drop in filings and a 7.6 percent drop in sales.

Year to date, sales of foreclosed properties represented 5 percent of all real estate transactions in Mesa County, down from 26 percent for this time last year.

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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