Mesa County real estate activity heating up

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity has heated up along with the weather in Mesa County.

Heading into summer and what’s typically the busiest season for real estate, the number of transactions and their combined dollar volume continue to increase.

“I’m surprisingly pleased with the numbers. They’re higher than I thought they’d be,” 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. “2017 is going to be a very healthy year for the real estate industry.”

Miller said 593 real estate transactions worth a collective $141 million were reported in Mesa County during June, the highest levels for the month in a decade.

Compared to June 2016, transactions increased 16.3 percent and dollar volume rose 20.5 percent.

Four large transactions bolstered the dollar volume for June 2017, Miller said, including the sale of the Peachtree Shopping Center in Clifton for $2.15 million, the sale of the 84 Lumber property off 22 Road in Grand Junction for $1.2 million and the sale of agricultural land off 14 Road in Loma for $1.2 million.

Still, Miller attributed most of the $24 million increase in dollar volume in real estate activity between June 2016 and June 2017 to the increase in the number of transactions.

For the first half of 2017, 2,547 transactions worth a collective $601 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the first half of 2016, transactions increased 16.7 percent and dollar volume rose 20.4 percent.

Miller initially believed the 564 transactions worth a combined $131 million reported in May would be the most for a month for 2017. But the numbers for June surpassed those levels.

Bray said the numbers could continue going up because real estate activity tends to increase in the summer and closings typically lag a month or so behind contracts. “I don’t think we’ve seen the hot month yet.”

Dwindling inventories of existing homes for sale have limited selection and pushed up prices, Bray said.

According to the latest information from CoreLogic, a research firm based in California, homes prices rose 1.7 percent from April to May and 6.6 percent between May 2016 and May 2017.

But new home construction has helped to fill the gap, Bray said, and contribute to the growing number of real estate transactions.

Through the end of May, 266 building permits for single-family homes had been issued in Mesa County in 2017 — a 45 percent increase over the same span in 2016.

If the current pace of real estate activity continues through the second half, 2017 would end with nearly 5,100 transactions worth a total of $1.2 billion. Annual real estate dollar volume peaked at $1.72 billion in 2006, bottomed out after the recession that followed at $585 million in 2011 and has increased every year since then.

Miller said she expects what’s been a robust market this year to continue. “I don’t see any reason for it to change.”

Bray said he expects the pace of real estate activity to slow this fall, but year-end totals for 2017 to top 2016.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to decline. Miller said 36 foreclosure filings and 19 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County during July. Compared to the same month last year, filings declined 28 percent and sales fell 45.7 percent.

For the first half of 2017, 214 filings and 148 sales were reported. Compared to the first half of 2016, filings fell 24.9 percent and sales retreated 20.9 percent.

So far in 2017, the 127 resales of foreclosed properties constituted 5 percent of all transactions, half the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.