2018 off to fast start for Mesa County real estate sales

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity continues to increase in Mesa County, picking up at the beginning of this year where it left off at the end of last year and extending a trend industry observers expect could lead to record activity in 2018.

“It’s a continuing trend line from last year. It’s been a steady path we’ve had for quite some time now,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, believes low inventories could slow sales. Nonetheless, transactions, dollar volume and median pricing still could reach new peaks. “That will be a celebration in itself.”

Miller said  375 real estate transactions worth a total of $95.2 million closed in Mesa County during January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 34.9 percent and dollar volume increased 39 percent.

Several large transactions were reported in Grand Junction, Miller said, including the sale of a building at 2738 Crossroads Blvd. for $2.4 million and the sale of the Big O Tire service center and nearby storage units at 2464 U.S. Highway 6 & 50 for $2.2 million. A residence on 40 acres in the Collbran area sold for $2.36 million.

Nonetheless, the big deals didn’t skew the dollar volume because even larger transactions occurred last year, Miller said.

Bray said 225 residential real estate transactions worth a collective $59 million closed in Mesa County in January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 30.8 percent and dollar volume rose 47.5 percent.

The median sales price of residential transactions rose 9.5 percent to $230,000, Bray said.

CoreLogic reported a 10.1 percent increase in the price of Grand Junction homes between December 2016 and December 2017. Prices rose eight-tenths of a percent between November 2017 and December 2018, according to the latest analysis by the California research firm.

Bray said three factors have played a role in bolstering real estate sales: increased consumer confidence and the spending that goes along with it, attractive interest rates on mortgages and mild weather that’s enabled homebuyers to search for purchases in the midst of winter.

At the same time, though, low housing inventory levels could hamper the market, he said.

At the end of January, 653 homes were listed for sale in Mesa County. That’s a 20.3 percent decline from this time last year and a 64 percent drop from seven years ago. At the current pace of sales, the inventory constitutes a three-month supply.

The average time a listing remains on market dropped 7 percent to 81 days.

An increase in new home construction will fill some of the gap, he said. In January, 70 building permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County. That’s double the number of permits issued in the same month last year.

Looking ahead, Bray said he expects residential real estate transactions to increase 8 percent to 10 percent in 2018, while increased sales and higher prices will push up dollar volume 20 percent to
22 percent.

Those increases could take the Mesa County real estate market to record levels. Activity peaked in 2006 with 7,210 transactions valued at a collective $1.72 billion.

The market bottomed out in 2011 in the bust that followed the boom and has grown every year since. While other markets in Colorado have recovered and exceeded pre-recession levels, that could occur in 2018 in Mesa County, Bray said.

Even as real estate activity increases in Mesa County, property foreclosure activity decreases.

Miller said 21 foreclosure filings and 19 foreclosure sales were reported in January. Compared to the same month last year, filings fell 40 percent and sales dropped 29.6 percent.