As summer nears, Mesa County real estate activity heats up

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

The busy summer season hasn’t yet started, but real estate activity in Mesa County already has heated up.

“It’s turning out to be a better year than I thought,” 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 and long-time observer of the local real estate market, agreed. “I don’t see any kind of sign of it easing up.”

Miller said 447 real estate transactions worth a combined $105.7 million were reported in Mesa County during April. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 15.8 percent and dollar volume increased 20.1 percent.

Five large deals bolstered dollar volume, including the sale of a 35-acre ranch near Mesa for $1.7 million and storage units on North Avenue in Grand Junction for $1.3 million.

For the first four months of 2017, 1,390 transactions worth a collective $329 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2016, transactions increased 15.8 percent and dollar volume rose 18.3 percent.

Bray said 330 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $81 million were reported in April. Those numbers brought year-to-date totals for 2017 to 985 residential transactions worth a total of $232 million. Compared to the same span in 2016, transactions rose 11.3 percent and dollar volume increased nearly 18.4 percent.

The median sales price of residential real estate through the first four months of 2017 increased nearly 11.2 percent to $213,500, Bray said. That’s still 5 percent below the peak median price of $225,000 in Mesa County  in 2008.

The average time on market for a residential listing fell 12 percent to 75 days.

So far for 2017, most residential sales have occurred in the price range between $200,000 and $295,000, but sales in the $100,000 to $199,000 range were a close second.

Bray said some people are moving to the area and buying homes, but he attributed the bulk of activity to residents buying and selling homes. “It’s a local market and move-up market.”

While the pace of real estate sales in Mesa County already tops last year, Bray and Miller said they expect the pace to quicken more during the summer and what’s typically the busiest season for the market. “I think we’ll see a robust summer,” Bray said.

In fact, Bray said 2017 could end as the best year for real estate in Mesa County since the market peak in 2008, when more than $1.3 billion in sales were reported.

One possible headwind, Bray said, could be available inventory — or rather a shortage of it.

As of the end of April, there were 922  active residential listings in Mesa County. At the current pace of sales, that total constitutes only a three-month supply, Bray said. The listing inventory is down 2 percent from a year ago and 50 percent from seven years ago, he said.

New construction will help in bringing  more homes to the market, he said.

For April, building permits for single-family homes were up 2 percent compared to the same month last year. Year-to-date, 34 percent more building permits have been issued, Bray said.

While property foreclosure activity was something of a mixed bag in April, foreclosures so far in 2017 have dropped from levels of a year ago, Miller said.

For April, 25 foreclosure filings and 23 sales were reported in Mesa County. Compared to the same month last year, filings were unchanged and sales increased 21.1 percent.

For the first four months of 2017, 143 filings and 107 sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2016, filings declined
16.4 percent and sales fell 6.1 percent.

So far for 2017, the 86 resales of foreclosed properties constituted 6 percent of all transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller said she considers indicative of a healthy real estate market. “That’s increasingly healthy.”