Building momentum bodes well for economy

The real estate market has for years constituted something of a silver lining as Mesa County has lagged behind other areas of Colorado in recovering from the recession.

Consider that real estate activity in Mesa County has increased every year since bottoming out in 2011. Through the first five months of 2017, sales and dollar volume outpaced the same span in 2016 by double-digit proportions.

The pace of new home construction in Mesa County similarly has accelerated, offering more good economic news. Through the end of May, 266 building permits for single-family homes had been issued in Mesa County so far for 2017. That’s a 45 percent increase over the same period in 2016. If that pace continues, nearly 650 permits will be issued by the end of 2017, which would be the most in a decade.

Local home builders confirm their operations have increased, with one builder anticipating double the production volume this year over last year.

What’s driving the increased demand for new homes? There’s consensus a combination of factors are involved.

For starters, the inventory of existing homes for sale has dwindled as real estate activity has picked up. At the end of May, there was only about a two-month supply, limiting the selection for potential buyers.

The majority of new home buyers are residents looking for a change in housing — empty nesters downsizing, for example. But a growing proportion of buyers are people moving to the Grand Valley, among them retirees drawn to the area by such amenities as lower housing prices, quality health care and outdoor recreation. That’s not to mention the comparably less congested environment than that found along the Front Range these days.

There’s hope those same amenities also will attract people who are still working, including entrepreneurs who might want to relocate their businesses as well.

Given the lower unemployment rates in Mesa County in recent months and the prospect for another busy summer tourism season, there are other silver linings.
Add an increase in new home construction, and there’s a growing sense of confidence conditions are improving as well as more optimistic expectations.

Call it a building momentum that bodes well for the economy.