Growth expected to continue to Mesa County real estate market

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Kevin Bray
Kevin Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity increased in Mesa County through the first half of the year. And the prospect for the second half is more of the same, industry observers predict.

“We’re continuing on that uphill climb. It’s just growing into a healthy market,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Kevin Bray, development coordinator at Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, described the first half of the year as steady and said he doesn’t expect any substantial changes. “I think we’re going to see that continue.”

Miller said 510 real estate transactions worth a combined $117 million were reported in Mesa County during June. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 23.8 percent. But dollar volume dropped 15.8 percent because of several large sales that closed in June 2015.

For June 2016, three sales accounted for a total of $4.1 million in dollar volume, including the sale of an office building at 751 Horizon Court for $1.8 million, the property where the McDonald’s is located in Fruita for $1.2 million and a residence at 1953 O Road for $1.1 million.

For June 2015, however, five transactions accounted for $55 million, including the sale of the Mesa View and Atrium retirement communities in Grand Junction for a total of $45 million.

Bray said 353 residential real estate sales worth a total of $86 million were reported in Mesa County. The median sales price came in at $207,000, while listings were on the market an average of 71 days.

For the first half of 2016, Miller said 2,182 transactions worth a collective $499 million were reported. Compared to the same span last year, transactions increased 12.6 percent and dollar volume rose 7.1 percent.

Bray said 1,581 residential sales worth $364 million were reported for the first half of 2016 for a 4.8 percent increase in transactions and 16.6 percent increase in dollar volume. The median sales prices rose 7.6 percent to $198,00 while the average days on market fell 8.3 percent to 77.

Miller said June is typically one of the busiest months of the year for real estate sales and was no exception in 2016 in adding to increased activity for the first half.

Bray attributed that increase to a number of factors, including more people moving to Mesa County from Denver and Colorado mountain resorts, more people buying homes because of higher rental rates and more young adults moving out of their parents homes and buying their own places. “I think it’s just something of a combination of a lot of sources like that.”

Moreover, low mortgage interest rates continue to make homes affordable, he added.

While more homes are coming on the market, they’re selling more quickly and keeping inventories low, he said. The overall listing inventory is down 8 percent from 2015.

Given current active listings and the pace of sales, there’s only a two month supply of homes priced at $199,000 and lower. The supply increases to three months for homes listed at $200,000 up to $399,000 and four months for homes listed at $400,000 to $499,000, Bray said.

Bray said he expects new home construction to increase. The number of single-family building permits issued in June was down by eight compared to the same month last year, but up 4 percent for the first half of 2016 compared to the same span in 2015, he said.

While a presidential election year always creates some uncertainty in the real estate market, Miller said core activity will continue in the second half of 2016 regardless of increasingly polarized politics.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity in Mesa County has increased.

For June, 50 foreclosure filings and 35 foreclosure sales were reported, Miller said. That’s an increase of 51.5 percent in filings and 25 percent in sales over the same month last year.

For the first half of 2016, 285 filings and 187 sales were reported, she said. That’s an increase of 24.5 percent in filings and 33.6 percent in sales over the first half of 2015.

Miller said the increase could be attributed in part to people who lost their jobs in the energy industry because of a slowdown brought on by low commodity prices.

Still, the 144 re-sales of foreclosed properties during the first half of 2016 constituted only 7.5 percent of all transactions, Miller said. That’s below the 10 percent threshold she considers indicative of a healthy market.