July real estate numbers offer encouragement

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Annette Miller

While the pace of real estate sales in Mesa County so far this year continues to lag behind last year, industry observers say the latest numbers offer encouragement.

“July felt good,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

While lower inventories and higher prices have slowed activity, Bray said demand remains strong. “There’s still a lot of buyer activity out there.”

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, agreed. “July was very healthy. It was a good, strong month.”

Miller said 556 real estate transactions worth a total of $187 million were reported in Mesa County in July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 1.6 percent and dollar volume fell 2.1 percent.

For July 2019, seven large commercial transactions worth a total of $39 million were reported, Miller said. That included the sale of a manufacturing warehouse on Cipolla Road in Fruita for $17.4 million, the Paradise Valley Mobile Home Park on 25 1/2 Road in Grand Junction for $13.8 million and the location of the Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburger restaurant on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction for $2.5 million.

In July 2018, however, seven transactions accounted for a total of $52 million, including the sale of the Canyon View Medical Plaza adjacent to Community Hospital for $31.5 million.

Through the first seven months of 2019, 3,118 transactions worth a collective $942 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2018, transactions decreased 8.5 percent and dollar volume increased 1.6 percent.

Bray said preliminary numbers for residential real estate indicate 2,198 transactions worth a combined $622 million were reported in Mesa County through the first seven months of 2019. Compared to the same span in 2018, transactions were down 8.9 percent and the dollar volume fell 2.6 percent.

The inventory of active residential listings stood at 809 at the end of July, down 14 percent from the same time last year, Bray said.

The median price of homes sold in Mesa County during the first seven months of 2019 climbed to $252,000 as a decrease in the sales of lower-priced homes pushed the median point up 7 percent from the same span last year, he said.

Bray said a shrinking inventory and less selection affects the residential market. “There’s still a lot of people out there looking, but not finding.”

But they’re not giving up, he said. And that’s an indication the market remains healthy.

Bray and Miller said the pipeline of real estate under contract indicates August could be another busy month for closings.

Miller said lower interest rates on mortgages also could spur activity in home sales and refinancing. “I think we’re moving into a strong fall.”

Bray said he expects a busy August and September, then seasonal slowing closer to the end of the year. Year-end numbers for 2019 could come close to 2018 or fall short, he said.

If sales continue at the current pace, 2019 would end with 5,345 transactions worth a combined $1.6 billion.

With 5,719 transactions worth a collective $1.55 billion, 2018 was the best year for the Mesa County real estate market since 2007.

Residential real estate sales haven’t declined on a year-over-year basis in Mesa County since 2010.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow.

Miller said 132 foreclosure filings and 70 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County during the first seven months of 2019. Compared to the same span in 2018, filings fell 17.5 percent and sales dropped 34.6 percent.

The 42 resales of foreclosed properties during the first seven months of 2019 constituted 1.4 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.