Good fourth quarter expected for Mesa County real estate

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Annette Miller
Robert Bray

Depending in part on the weather, 2019 could finish strong for real estate activity in Mesa County.

“I just feel we could have a good last quarter of the year,” 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, said year-end numbers could fall short of 2018, but still top 5,000 transactions worth a combined $1.5 billion. “It’s a nice, healthy market.”

Lower interest rates that have reduced the cost of financing play a role, Bray said. “The interest rate is the hero.”

For September, 463 real estate transactions worth a total of $132 million were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, transactions slipped 1.5 percent and dollar volume rose 2.3 percent.

Seven transactions worth a collective $12.5 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. That included the purchase by Mahogany Energy Resources of about 600 acres near the Utah border for $4.8 million as well as the sale of a residence on 20 acres on 24 1/4 Road for more than $1.8 million and a residence in Redlands Mesa for $1.3 million.

Through the first three quarters of 2019, 4,086 transactions worth a total of more than $1.2 billion were reported. Compared to the same span in 2018, transactions decreased 8.1 percent even as dollar volume increased 1.5 percent.

While large transactions have bolstered dollar volume, so has increased prices, Miller said.

Bray said 319 residential real estate transactions were reported in September, up 3.9 percent from the same month last year.

Transactions have lagged the first three quarters of 2019 compared to the same span in 2018, however, with 2,951 sales. That’s down 5.5 percent. Dollar volume remains up 2.3 percent at more than $840 million.

Lower inventories and limited selection have slowed sales, Bray said. At the end of September, there were 783 active listings. That’s down nearly 17.5 percent from the same time last year and constitutes on average 100 fewer homes on the market a month.

New home construction has lagged, but could pick up in the fourth quarter if the weather remains cooperative, Bray said.

For September, 63 single family building permits were issued in Mesa County. That’s one more than the same month last year.

Through the first three quarters of 2019, 556 permits were issued. That’s down nearly 13.4 percent from the same span in 2018.

Meanwhile, the median price of homes sold through the first three quarters of 2019 rose 8.1 percent to $254,000.

Looking ahead, Bray said he expects the fourth quarter to be a good one if the weather doesn’t hamper existing home sales or new home construction.

A one-point drop in the interest rates charged on 30-year mortgages since the beginning of the year constitutes a more than 21 percent decrease in the cost of financing for homebuyers, Bray said. Rates could move even lower. “It’s kind of a hidden factor in the current activity we see in the residential market.”

Meanwhile, the pace of property foreclosure activity continues to slow.

Miller said 13 foreclosure filings and five foreclosure sales were reported in September.

Through the first three quarters of 2019, 167 filings and 84 sales were reported, she said. That’s a decrease of 17.3 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively, over the same span in 2018. The 46 resales of foreclosed properties constituted 1.1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.