2018 a good year for real estate, but pace could slow in 2019

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Despite some slowing in December, 2018 ended as the best year for the Mesa County real estate market in more than a decade.

While the pace might slow further, the overall trend could continue upward in 2019.

“It’ll still be a good 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, said the year-end numbers were encouraging. “It was definitely a very busy year. It felt good all the way around.”

Miller said 353 real estate transactions worth a total of $99 million were reported in Mesa County in December. Compared to the same month last year, transactions declined 16.9 percent, but dollar volume edged up a half a percent.

Four large transactions bolstered dollar volume, Miller said, including the sale of vacant commercial property along 24 Road in Grand Junction for $2.4 million and the sale of industrial property on Hall Avenue for $1.4 million.

The December numbers bring year-end totals for 2018 to 5,719 transactions with a combined $1.55 billion. Compared to 2017, transactions increased 7.3 percent and dollar volume jumped 21 percent.

Increasing commercial activity was reflected in a surge of transactions worth $1 million or more, Miller said. For 2018, 69 transactions accounted for $172 million, about double the 38 transactions worth a total of $86 million in 2017.

The overall year-end totals for 2018 were the highest for Mesa County since 2007, when 6,412 transactions worth a collective $1.72 billion were reported, Miller said.

Bray said 3,957 residential real estate transactions worth a total of more than $1 billion were reported in Mesa County in 2018. Compared to last year, transactions increased 3.4 percent and dollar volume rose 12.4 percent.

The median sales price of homes sold in Mesa County climbed 7.8 percent to $235,000. The inventory of active residential listings dropped 7 percent to 628 at the end of December.

New home construction helped counter low inventories, Bray said. A total of 802 building permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County in 2018, a 21 percent increase over 2017.

Looking ahead, Miller said the pace of real estate activity could slow in 2019, especially compared to what was a fast start for 2018. But 2019 still could meet or beat 2018 by the end of the year, she said.

Bray said the pace of growth in residential transactions slowed in 2018 compared to double-digit proportional gains in 2017 and 2016. The pace could slow more in 2019 as low inventories, rising interest rates on mortgages and higher prices could present headwinds.

But the Mesa County economy remains strong and the area increasingly attractive for businesses and people, he said. “I think our quality of life will continue to play well.”

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to decline. For 2018, 264 property foreclosure filings and 156 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County. Compared to 2017, filings dropped 33.7 percent and sales fell 42 percent.

The 93 resales of foreclosure properties during 2018 constituted less than 2 percent of all real estate transactions. That’s a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.