Phil Castle, The Business Times
Six transactions worth a total of nearly $21 million gave a big boost to real estate sales in Mesa County during October as the latest numbers continue to reflect improving market conditions.
But even as low interest rates bolster sales, regulatory uncertainty and a lackluster labor market hamper what could be an even stronger recovery.
“It could have been a better improvement,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.
Linda Romer Todd, owner of Associated Brokers & Consultants and chairwoman of the Grand Junction Area Realtors Association, said she expects the local real market to hold steady, but not rebound to the extent of markets elsewhere. “It’s not dead. It’s just not exciting,” she said.
Miller said 305 real estate transactions worth a collective $76.8 million were reported in Mesa County during October. Compared to the same month last year, transactions edged down 1.9 percent, but dollar volume surged 45.5 percent.
Six large transactions, each of which was worth more than $1 million, increased dollar volume a total of $20.7 million. The deals included a $5.4 million transaction involving 75,000 square feet of space inside Mesa Mall in Grand Junction housing the Cabela’s outdoor sports retailer. Another deal worth $8.3 million involved retail space and parking in a shopping center north of the mall.
Miller said there were as many transactions worth more than $1 million in October than there were during the entire third quarter.
The October numbers bring total real estate transactions through the first 10 months of 2013 to 3,075 and total dollar volume to $656.8 million. Compared to the same span in 2012, transactions increased 6.6 percent and dollar volume increased 18.2 percent.
The latest year-to-date totals move closer to the year-end totals for 2012, when 3,444 transactions worth $681.2 million were reported in Mesa County.
“I think we’re going to end 2013 moderately ahead of 2012,” Miller said.
Romer Todd said she was encouraged by increased real estate activity during the summer as well as new home construction.
Overall, though, she expects the market to remain mostly flat, which will be a good thing during the slower winter season. “If we can hang on through the next three or four months, we’re really in good shape.”
Long-term mortgage interest rates should remain near historic lows, which will bolster the real estate market, she said.
But federal regulations and continued uncertainty over regulations hampers the market, she said. “They keep an edge off good money decisions.”
The labor market in Mesa County, where the latest monthly unemployment rate stood at 7.9 percent, hasn’t helped, she added.
Miller said the more encouraging trend is the decreasing level of property foreclosure activity.
For October, 75 foreclosure filings and 42 foreclosure sales were reported. Compared to the same month last year, filings dropped 24.2 percent and sales plummeted 64.7 percent. Because of the time between filings and sales, the two don’t occur for an individual property in the same month.
Through the first 10 months of 2013, 666 filings and 512 sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2012, filings fell 39.4 percent and sales tumbled 30.3 percent.
The proportion of sales of foreclosed properties to total real estate transactions through the first 10 months of 2013 dropped to 18 percent.
That’s down six points from the same span last year.
Miller said the trend continues to head toward what she considers a healthy real estate market in which the share of foreclosed properties to overall transactions remains below 10 percent.