Mesa County real estate activity accelerates

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity continues to accelerate in Mesa County, surging by one measure to its biggest proportional gain in 24 years.

“It’s very healthy out there,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, agreed. “It’s still extremely strong.”

Miller said 457 real estate transactions worth a combined $114 million were reported in Mesa County in March. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 14.2 percent and dollar volume increased 21.9 percent.

Several large transactions were reported, Miller said, including the sales of three Dairy Queen properties in the Grand Valley for a total of nearly $4.6 million, a building in Grand Junction that formerly housed the Mesa County Workforce Center for $1.7 million and a residence in the Independent Valley Subdivision for $1.18 million.

For the first quarter of 2018, 1,185 transactions worth a collective $293 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, transactions increased 25.7 percent and dollar volume rose 31.4 percent. The proportional, year-over-year increase in transactions was the largest for the first quarter in Mesa County since a 26.4 percent gain in 1994, she said.

Bray said 786 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $201 million were reported in Mesa County for the first quarter of 2018. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, transactions increased 18.9 percent and dollar volume rose 31.4 percent.

The median sales price of residential transactions during the first quarter of 2018 increased $17,000 to $227,000, topping the previous peak for Mesa County, Bray said.

Miller said the strong real estate market reflects improving labor and economic conditions in the Grand Valley with growing payrolls and retail sales. Moreover, the local lifestyle adds to the attraction. “You’ve got a really good combination of things happening.”

Bray said the inventory of existing homes on the market remains low — the 743 active listings at the end of March constitutes only a two-month supply at the current pace of sales. A normal market offers a five- to six-month supply, he said. The low inventory could spur activity, though, in encouraging homebuyers to act quickly when they find a property they like, he added.

The pace of new home construction continues to increase, Bray said. For the first quarter, the number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County during the first quarter of 2018 increased 69 percent over the first quarter of 2017. Still, the supply of new housing isn’t yet sufficient to keep pace with demand, he said.

Bray said he expects the pace of real estate activity to continue through the second quarter even as more homes come on the market as part of a seasonal increase in the spring and early summer. The pace could slow after that.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow in Mesa County. Miller said 24 foreclosure filings and 17 foreclosure sales were reported in March. That’s down 59.3 percent and 19 percent, respectively, from the same month last year.

For the first quarter, 74 filings and 54 sales were reported — drops of 37.3 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively, from the first quarter of 2017.

So far in 2018, the resales of 22 foreclosed properties represented less than 2 percent of all transactions — far less than the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.