Real estate sales move higher, but dollar volume trends lower

Annette Miller

Joe Tripoli

While one measure of real estate activity in Mesa County movers higher, another measure continues to decline.

According to figures compiled by Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, 235 real estate transactions worth a combined $48.32 million were reported in Mesa County during July.

The number of transactions was up more than 6 percent from the 221 sales reported in July 2010. But the collective dollar volume was down more than 13 percent from the $55.6 million reported last year.

However, the latest numbers don’t include the sale of 40 government-owned properties in July 2011 for which prices weren’t disclosed on recorded deeds. Adding those sales and the associated dollar volume to the July statistics likely would bring them closer to levels of a year ago, Miller said.

Joe Tripoli, a real estate agent with RE/MAX 4000 who serves as chairman of the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association, said he’s encouraged by some trends in the Mesa County market, including more transactions and less inventory. “I feel optimistic, but I know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Tripoli said.

According to Miller, 1,518 real estate transactions worth a collective $318.62 million were reported in Mesa County through the first seven months of 2011.

The number of transactions nearly matches the 1,516 sales reported during the same span in 2010. But the dollar volume was down more than 11 percent from the $359.7 million reported during the first seven months of 2010.

Miller attributed the drop in dollar volume in part to property foreclosures that have driven down prices. Government- and bank-owned real estate tends to bring lower prices than comparable properties on the market.

But reducing the inventory of foreclosed properties ultimately will help the market, she added. “That’s what we need to have happen.”

Moreover, there are signs foreclosure activity in Mesa County is slowing.

Miller said 100 foreclosure filings and 63 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County in July.

Filings constitute the beginning of the foreclosure process. Filings can be cured or withdrawn before properties are sold, however. Sales indicate how many properties have been sold at the end of the foreclosure process. Because of the period between a filing and sale for a given property, the two don’t occur in the same month.

Compared to July 2010, foreclosure filings in Mesa County were down nearly 41 percent, while foreclosure sales were down

24 percent, Miller said.

Through the first seven months of 2011, a total of 661 foreclosure filings were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. That’s down nearly 32 percent from the same span last year.

A total of 562 foreclosure sales were reported through the first seven months of 2011, Miller said. That’s about even with the same period last year.

Since filings constitute a leading indicator for foreclosure activity, Miller said she monitors that number and looks for downward trends that signal fewer sales in the months ahead.

At the same time, though, Miller said the unemployment rate also must decline before the housing market substantially recovers. People must have jobs and feel secure in those jobs before they purchase homes, she said.

In June, the latest month for which estimates are available, the jobless rate in Mesa County jumped four-tenths to 10.3 percent.

Tripoli monitors yet another measure of the real estate market — the number of active residential listings on the Grand Junction Realtor Association multiple listing service. That number, in effect the inventory of residential properties on the market, declined four consecutive months to 1,340 in July, Tripoli said. At this time last year, the number stood at 2,137.

“I do think that’s a good sign,” he said.

With mortgage interest rates at record-low levels and residential prices down, it’s an attractive market for buyers, Tripoli said.

According to statistics from GJARA, the median sales price of a residential property in Mesa County has dropped to about $168,000.

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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