2020 begins with gains in real estate sales

Annette Miller
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity in Mesa County is off to what observers consider a promising start in 2020 with year-over-year increases in transactions and dollar volume.

“To start into 2020 with these gains is good,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, said low residential inventories continue to hamper activity, but the abundance of prospective buyers bodes well. “There’s just a lot of them out there looking.”

Miller said 319 real estate transactions worth a collective $103 million were reported in Mesa County during January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 8.8 percent and dollar volume increased 5.1 percent.

Seven large transactions accounted for a total of nearly $18 million, Miller said, including the sale of nearly 600 acres of agricultural land south of L Road for $6 million, an apartment complex on Lowell Court for $4.5 million and 10 acres southwest of Las Colonias for $2.4 million.

According to numbers tracked by Bray Real Estate, 215 residential transactions worth a total of more than $62 million were reported in January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 4.9 percent and dollar volume increased 11 percent.

Miller and Bray attributed part of the year-over-year increase to inclement winter weather that slowed activity at the beginning of 2019. Overall transactions fell 16.9 percent in January 2019 compared to January 2018.

Bray said low inventories and limited selections continue to slow residential sales. At the end of January, there were 568 active residential listings in Mesa County. That’s a drop of 12 percent from the same time last year and the lowest level he said he’s seen in the 10 years his firm has tracked the number.

The median price for homes sold in January 2019 climbed to $260,000. That’s an increase of 6.1 percent over January 2018 and about 1 percent over the median sales price of all homes sold in 2018.

Despite the higher prices, Miller said the inventory of existing homes remains low because people are reluctant to sell their homes because they’re worried about finding another home to buy.

New home construction continues to lag, Bray said, in part because of the availability and affordability of lots upon which to build homes.

The number of single-family building permits issued in Mesa County wasn’t available as of press time. But Bray said he expects new home construction activity to increase in 2020.

Housing demand remains strong, he said, judging by the number of prospective buyers looking for homes.

Property foreclosure activity constituted something of a mixed bag in January. Miller said 25 foreclosure filings and five foreclosure sales were reported. Compared to the same month last year, filings increased 47 percent, but sales dropped 81.5 percent.

The four resales of foreclosed properties in January 2020 represented 1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.