Mesa County real estate activity accelerates

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Annette Miller

Real estate activity has rebounded in Mesa County to surpass sales and dollar volume levels from a year ago.

Activity might have been even more brisk if low inventories hadn’t hampered residential transactions.

“These numbers are definitely tempered by that,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, said low inventories have not only limited transactions, but also pushed median sales prices higher. “The median is moving.”

Miller said 579 real estate transactions worth a total of $186 million were reported in Mesa County in October. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 16.5 percent and dollar volume rose 10.1 percent.

Seven large transactions worth a combined $11 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said, including the sale of the Best Buy property near Mesa Mall for $2.9 million, the sale of a home in Redlands Mesa for $1.85 million and the sale of vacant commercial land along the Interstate Highway 70 Business Loop for $1.65 million.

Through the first 10 months of 2020, 4,654 transactions worth a collective $1.43 billion were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2019, transactions increased 1.5 percent and dollar volume 2.7 percent.

October was the first month in which year-to-date transactions outpaced last year since April. The five-month span reflected in part the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions which at first prohibited showings and open houses.

A recent surge in positive cases of COVID-19 in Mesa County could affect real estate activity again, Miller said.

But other factors also have been in play, she said, including low-interest rates on mortgages as well an increase in the number of people capable of moving because of remote work — some from big cities to more rural areas and others on a more localized basis. Labor markets also affect real estate markets, she added.

According to numbers tracked by Bray Real Estate, 356 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $123 million were reported in October. Compared to the same month last year, transactions dropped 3.8 percent, but dollar volume rose 17.1 percent.

Through the first 10 months of 2020, 3,304 residential transactions worth a total of nearly $1.1 billion were reported. Compared to the same span in 2019, transactions were down 1.4 percent and dollar volume was up 10.3 percent.

Bray said low housing inventories have slowed the pace of sales while increasing the price. Fewer homes are available. Many of the homes that are available are in higher price ranges.

As of the end of October, there were 380 active residential listings in Mesa County. That’s half the number from a year ago.

The median price of homes sold in October rose 15.1 percent to $305,000 compared to the same month last year. The median price for homes sold year to date increased 11.8 percent to $285,000.

Miller and Bray said they expect real estate sales for 2020 to come close to 2019, remaining at one of the highest levels in more than a decade. “We do still have a healthy market,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity has slowed nearly to a halt, Miller said, with two foreclosure filings and two foreclosure sales in October. Through the first 10 months of 2020, 83 filings and 28 sales were reported, down 54.6 percent and 69.9 percent, respectively, from the same span in 2019.

The 27 resales of foreclosed property over the first 10 months of 2020 was less than 1 percent of all real estate transactions and a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.