Mesa County real estate activity holds steady

Real estate activity in Mesa County remains mostly unchanged from a year ago, neither dropping significantly below 2010 levels nor yet exhibiting a substantial recovery.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-term observer of the local real estate market, said this of the latest sales figures: “They’re holding their own right now.”

Miller said 244 real estate transactions worth a combined $46.8 million were reported in Mesa County in April.

Compared to March, sales were up slightly from the 225 transactions reported last month, but dollar volume fell from the $50.6 million in total sales.

Compared to April 2010, there were six fewer sales, but dollar volume was down $2 million.

Through the first four months of 2011, 813 real estate transactions worth a collective $167.1 million were reported in Mesa County.

During the same span in 2010, 793 transactions worth a combined $186 million were reported.

With the number of transactions holding steady, Miller attributed part of the drop in dollar volume to lower real estate prices.

The average median sales price of residential property in Mesa County dropped to $169,000 in the first quarter of 2010, down 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Banks are motivated to sell foreclosed properties at lower prices to get those properties off their books, Miller said. Such transactions tend to push prices lower not only for neighboring properties, but also the overall market, she said.

According to the latest information from CoreLogic, the rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgages in the Grand Junction area was 2.23 percent in February. That’s up 0.28 percentage points from February 2010.

Meanwhile, though, the mortgage delinquency rate has declined. According to CoreLogic data for February 2011, 5.63 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent, down 0.22 points from the same month last year.

Miller said real estate activity traditionally increases in the spring and summer, but economic conditions and high unemployment rates also affect the market.