January drop in real estate activity not seen as start of trend

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Mesa County real estate transactions declined on a year-over-year basis in January, but a comparatively slow start to the new year isn’t expected to continue.

“I’m not alarmed at that,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

A single month of information isn’t sufficient to signal any trends, Bray said. Moreover, the comparison between January 2019 and January 2018 isn’t a fair one because of a spike last year in real estate activity.

Still, low inventories, rising interest rates and higher prices could slow the pace of growth in the real estate market, Bray added.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said 293 real estate transactions worth a collective
$98 million were reported in Mesa County during January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 21.9 percent and dollar volume increased 2.9 percent.

Ten large transactions accounting for a total nearly $25.2 million, bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. The transactions included the sale for $8.7 million of property south of Mesa Mall that serves as the location for eight restaurants. A commercial center on 12th Street in Grand Junction sold for $3.8 million, while a building on North Avenue sold for more than $2.1 million.

For the same month last year, five transactions worth more than $1 million each accounted for a total of $9.9 million, Miller said.

Bray said 191 residential transactions worth a total of nearly $52.8 million were reported in Mesa County in January. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 18.4 percent and dollar volume dropped 14.4 percent.

The inventory of active residential listings edged down less than 1 percent to 649 at the end of January. The days on market for listings dropped 17.3 percent to 67.

The median price of homes sold in Mesa County continued to trend upward, Bray said, with a 7 percent year-over-year gain to $246,000.

The numbers from just one month don’t offer much of an indication of any sort of trend, Bray said. Moreover, the numbers from January are skewed because of a spike in activity for the same month last year. “We had a big peak.”

For January 2018, 375 real estate transactions worth a total of $95.2 million were reported. Compared to January 2017, transactions jumped 34.9 percent and the collective dollar volume surged 39 percent.

There were more transactions for a higher combined dollar volume in January 2019 than January 2017, Bray said.

Bray attributed the increase in January 2018 to a combination of factors, among them mild weather, increased consumer confidence and attractive interest rates.

Miller said the year-end totals for 2018 were the highest for Mesa County since 2007 with 5,719 transactions with a combined $1.55 billion. Compared to 2017, transactions increased 7.3 percent and dollar volume jumped 21 percent.

Bray said 3,957 residential real estate transactions worth a total of more than $1 billion were reported in Mesa County in 2018. Compared to 2017, transactions increased 3.4 percent and dollar volume rose 12.4 percent.

For 2019, Bray said the pace of real estate activity could slow, but he expects the Mesa County real estate market to remain healthy.

Meanwhile, 17 property foreclosure filings were reported in January, Miller said. That’s a 19 percent decrease from the same month last year. But 27 foreclosure sales were reported in January 2019, a 42.1 percent increase over the same month last year.

Sales of foreclosed properties as a proportion of all real estate transactions remain at a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a health market.