2017 off to fast start for Mesa County real estate market

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Increasing real estate activity during the first quarter constitutes a fast start for what could end as the best year for the Mesa County market in nearly a decade.

“This is going to be a banner year,” 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, agreed. “The year has definitely started out with a bang.”

Miller said 400 real estate transactions worth a total of $93.5 million were reported in Mesa County in March. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 11.1 percent and dollar volume rose 10 percent. “March was busy,” she said.

The sale of a hotel on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction for $3.6 million and a property occupied by an auto parts store on the Interstate 70 Business Loop in Clifton for more than $1.3 million bolstered dollar volume. But large transactions actually accounted for more at $8.2 million a year ago, Miller said.

For the first quarter of 2017, Miller said 943 transactions worth a combined $223 million were reported. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, transactions rose 15.8 percent and dollar volume rose 17.6 percent.

Since the first quarter is typically slower than the second and third quarters for real estate activity, Miller said the pace could pick up heading into the busier summer season.

Bray said 2017 could end as the best year for real estate since the market peak in 2008, when more than $1.3 billion in sales were reported. “We could get back to there.”

Bray said 640 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $148 million were reported  for the first quarter of 2017. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, transactions rose 10.3 percent and dollar volume increased 18.4 percent. 

The median price of residential sales increased 12.3 percent to $210,000, while the average time on market for a residential listing dropped 14.3 percent to 84 days, he said.

Most residential sales occurred in the price range between $100,000 and $199,000, but sales in the $200,000 to $299,000 were close behind, Bray said. There was also activity in the $300,000 to $399,000 range, he said,

While the inventory of homes has declined slightly, Bray said he expects an increase in new construction to bring more homes to market. The number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County during the first quarter of 2017 increased 56 percent over the first quarter if 2016, he said.

Bray said he couldn’t attribute increasing real estate activity to any specific circumstances other than what he said is a general sense economic conditions are improving.

While Bray said he initially believed lower inventory levels and higher interest rates could constitute headwinds to a more robust market, that’s no longer the case. “I don’t see anything in the way.”

Although property foreclosure filings rose on a year-over-year basis in March, foreclosure filings and sales were down for the first quarter, Miller said.

For March, 59 filings and 21 sales were reported in Mesa County. Compared to the same month last year, filings rose 11.3 percent while sales dropped 34.4 percent, she said.

For the first quarter, 118 filings and 84 sales were reported. Compared to the same period last year, filings decreased 19.2 percent and sales declined 11.6 percent.

For the first quarter of 2017, the 69 resales of foreclosed properties constituted 7.3 percent of all transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.