Phil Castle, The Business Times
Increases in the number and dollar volume of real estate sales in December added to what industry observers characterized as a good year for the Mesa County market.
“If you can have what you call a happy year, it was 2015,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction. All of the trends moved in the right direction with not only increased sales and prices, but decreased property foreclosure activity, Miller said.
Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate, said 2015 turned out even better than he had anticipated at the beginning of the year. “The market beat my expectations.”
A number of large commercial transactions over the course of the year helped, said Dale Beede, a broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties. “It was a good year, and 2016 will be the same or even better.”
Miller said 341 real estate transactions worth a combined $84 million were reported in Mesa County during December. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 9.3 percent and dollar volume jumped 24.4 percent.
Two large commercial deals accounted for the bulk of the increase in dollar volume with the ownership of two buildings leased to the Capco defense contractor in Grand Junction changing hands for $7.1 million and the sale of apartments on 15th Street to the Grand Junction Housing Authority for $5 million.
The December numbers brought the year-end totals for 2015 to 4,060 transactions worth a collective $984 million, Miller said. Compared to 2014, transactions increased 11.1 percent and dollar volume rose 21.6 percent. There were 41 transactions worth more than $1 million that accounted for a total of $157 million in dollar volume. That’s more than double the combined dollar volume of large deals in 2014.
The year-end numbers for 2015 were the highest for Mesa County since 2008, when 4,459 transactions worth a combined $1.3 billion were reported.
The real estate market in Mesa County peaked in 2006, then bottomed out in 2011 in the aftermath of downturns in the economy and regional energy development, Miller said. The market has improved ever since, she said.
The market has enjoyed not only what Miller said was sustainable growth in sales and prices, but also decreasing property foreclosure activity.
For 2015, 487 property foreclosure filings and 299 sales were reported in Mesa County. Compared to 2014, filings fell 10.8 percent and sales dropped 25.6 percent. The sale of foreclosed properties in 2015 constituted just 7 percent of all transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.
The outlook for the real estate market during 2016 remains mostly upbeat.
Bray said he expects a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in residential transactions and a 4 percent to 5 percent increase in the median home price. The pace of new residential construction likely will pick up as well with a 10 percent to 12 percent increase in single-family building permits, he said.
While mortgage interest rates could move higher by the end of 2016, Bray said he doesn’t expect much movement or much of an effect on the local market.
Beede said the comparatively lower prices of commercial real estate compared to Denver and other areas of Colorado has made Mesa County attractive to investors. Increased commercial activity should continue in 2016, he said.
Miller, Bray and Beede all said improving economic and labor conditions are needed to further bolster the real estate market in the coming year.