Higher sales and dollar volume through the first two months of the year constitute a promising start to what Annette Miller expects will be increased real estate activity in Mesa County in 2012.
Property foreclosures remain a concern, though, especially if foreclosure filings don’t trend downward, said Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time observer of the local real estate market. “I’d like to see that same growth continue, but I want to keep an eye on the filed foreclosures,” she said.
Miller said both real estate sales and dollar volume increased substantially in February compared to the same month last year. The 208 sales were up more than 25 percent, while the combined $38.8 million in dollar volume was up more than 32 percent. Four transactions worth a collective $5.4 million helped bolster dollar volume. “I think it was a really good February,” she said.
Through the first two months of 2012, the pace of sales has increased 12.2 percent over the same span last year. Dollar volume has increased 3.5 percent. “There just seems to be more activity,” Miller said.
At the same time, the number of foreclosed properties sold by the government and banks also has increased, Miller said. For February, 79 real estate sales involved foreclosed properties. At 38 percent of all transactions, the proportion of so-called real estate owned sales was one of the largest in memory, Miller said.
REO sales are necessary to reduce the inventory of foreclosed properties in the market, Miller said. Meanwhile, though, such sales tend to pull down real estate prices because foreclosed properties typically sell for less than comparable properties.
For February, 107 property foreclosures were filed and 67 foreclosure sales recorded in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, filings rose 32 percent and sales fell more than 17 percent. Because of the time that elapses in between, a filing and sale of a given property don’t occur in the same month.
Since filings constitute a leading indicator of subsequent foreclosure activity, Miller looks for a downward trend. “That’s a number we need to keep watching.”