Low inventories slow Mesa County real estate sales

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Low inventories and the limited selection that goes with it continue to slow real estate sales in Mesa County.

“It’s that selection thing that’s keeping a lot of people home,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

While demand remains strong, both the number of real estate transactions and cumulative dollar volume of those deals declined in April compared to the same month last year.

“I still think it’s going to be a good year for real estate,” Bray said. But the trend could result in year-end declines, he added.

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said 452 transactions worth a total of $129 million were reported in Mesa County in April. Compared to the same month last year, transactions dropped 12.7 percent and dollar volume fell 6.5 percent.

Seven transactions worth a total of nearly $17 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. Those deals included the sale of Diamond Shamrock service stations on four deeds for a total of $9.5 million, Grand Junction Pipe & Supply for $4.4 million and a commercial property located at 2525 Foresight Circle for $1.75 million.

Through the first four months of April, 1,482 transactions worth a combined $445 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span last year, transactions fell 13 percent even as dollar volume increased 3.2 percent. Large transactions accounted for a difference of $26 million in dollar volume.

Bray said 1,043 residential transactions worth an accumulative $288.3 million were reported in Mesa County during the first four months of 2019. Compared to the same span last year, transactions were down 11.1 percent and dollar volume declined 5.5 percent.

The inventory of active residential listings fell to 681 at the end of April, down nearly 17.3 percent from the same time last year.

Bray said there was a surge of houses coming on the market in March and April last year, but that hasn’t yet happened this year even as the busy summer season nears. People are reluctant to put their homes on the market unless they’re assured they can find another home to purchase. The lower inventory has made that more difficult, especially in the lower price ranges, he said.

Meanwhile, the combination of low inventories and continued demand pushes up prices. The median price of homes sold in the first four months of 2019 climbed to $249,000. That’s an increase of 7.3 percent over the same span in 2018. People selling homes in the lower price ranges often receive multiple offers above their listing prices, Bray said.

New home construction continues to lag behind demand, he said. Through the first four months of this year, 231 building permits for single family homes were issued in Mesa County. That’s 20 percent fewer than what was issued during the same span last year.

Bray said he expects more existing and new homes to come on the market, but the lower inventory and higher prices still could result in a year-over-year decline in transactions at the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow.

Miller said 77 foreclosure filings and 50 sales were reported in Mesa County during the first four months of this year. Compared to the same span last year, filings fell 26 percent and sales dropped 26.5 percent.

The 20 resales of foreclosed properties during the first four months of 2019 constituted 1.4 percent of all transactions during that time — well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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