Lower inventories, higher prices slow Mesa County real estate sales

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Lower inventories and higher prices continue to slow real estate activity in Mesa County.

If the trend continues, the number of homes sold in the county could slip on a year-over-year basis for the first time in nearly a decade.

The economy and real estate market remain strong, however, said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction. “It’s still a healthy market for 2019.”

Annette Miller, senior vice president for Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said 526 real estate transactions worth a combined $147 million were reported in Mesa County in May. Compared to the same month last year, transactions fell 10.4 percent and dollar volume declined 3.3 percent.

Seven transactions worth a total of nearly $11 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. Those deals included the sale of agricultural property and greenhouses at 3281 C Road for $3.5 million, the sale of a residence at 332 Red Ridge Court for $1.65 million and the sale of a ranch at 11691 Colorado Highway 65 in Mesa for $1.45 million.

Through the first five months of 2019, 2,008 transactions worth a collective $592 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span last year, transactions decreased 12.3 percent while dollar volume increased 1.7 percent. Transactions over $1 million each accounted for an increase of $18 million in dollar volume for 2019.

Bray said 360 residential real estate transactions were reported in Mesa County in May, down 18.2 percent from the same month last year.

For the first five months of 2019, 1,415 residential transactions were reported, down 12.3 percent from the same span in 2018, he said. Total dollar volume decreased 6 percent on a year-over-year basis to $394 million.

The inventory of active residential listings fell to 752 at the end of May, down 6.8 percent from the same time last year.

The median price of homes sold in Mesa County during the first five months of 2019 rose 7.3 percent to $250,000 compared to the same span in 2018, he said.

Bray attributed the decline in residential transactions and dollar volume to lower inventories and higher prices. “Those are the two culprits.”

If there were sufficient inventory to meet demand, particularly for homes priced near or below $300,000, real estate activity would pick up, he said. “We still have a ton of buyers out there looking.”

People moving to Mesa County from outside the area buy homes without adding to the inventory, he said. People who live in Mesa County who’re shopping for different homes remain reluctant to put their own homes on the market until they can find something.

Given five months of sales figures for 2019, Bray said it’s increasingly likely the year-end numbers for residential sales in Mesa County could decline compared to 2018. If that occurs, the year-over-year decrease would be the first since 2010.

Annual home sales peaked in Mesa County at 3,988 in 2007, bottomed out at 1,714 in 2010 in the aftermath of downturns in the energy sector and overall economy and have increased every year since, Bray said. For 2018, the market nearly returned to the peak level with 3,965 sales.

Bray said the Mesa County economy has grown stronger and more diversified. While real estate activity has slowed, the market remains healthy overall, he said.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow.

Miller said 84 property foreclosure filings and 55 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County during the first five months of 2019. Compared to the same span in 2018, filings fell 31.7 percent and sales decreased 27.6 percent.

The 22 resales of foreclosed properties during the first five months of 2019 constituted 1.1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.