Phil Castle, The Business Times
Real estate sales continue to increase in Mesa County, although the latest gains also reflect the effects of the pandemic a year ago.
Activity is expected to continue to increase in the second half of 2021 even as growing demand and low supplies push up prices.
“I think it’s going to be a fairly good year, a fairly strong year,” said Lynn Thompson, president of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.
Annette Miller, administrative coordinator at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction agreed, although low residential inventories and the rising price of construction materials present challenges.
Miller said 549 transactions worth a total of $185 million were reported in Mesa County in May. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 58.2 percent and dollar volume increased 74.5 percent.
The gains were large in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on real estate activity a year ago, Miller said. For a while, real estate showings and open houses were prohibited.
A dozen large transactions accounted for a total of more than $17 million in sales in May 2021, including the sale of a warehouse on 7.5 acres on South 15th Street for $2.5 million, the Glacier Ice Arena on the Riverside Parkway for $2 million and a building that formerly housed the W.W. Peppers restaurant on Horizon Court for nearly $1.6 million.
Through the first five months of 2021, 2,386 transactions worth a combined $807 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2020, transactions rose 31.5 percent and dollar volume increased 44.9 percent.
If that pace were to continue through 2021, the year would end with more than 5,700 transactions worth a total of more than $1.9 billion, exceeding what ultimately was a record year in 2020.
According to statistics Bray Real Estate tracks for the residential market, 335 transactions worth a collective $127 million were reported in May. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 25.5 percent and dollar volume increased 69.3 percent.
Thompson said May last year marked a low point for real estate activity in the midst of the pandemic — “2020 was something nobody’s ever seen before.”
Year-over-year decreases were among the biggest in Mesa County since the oil shale bust in the 1980s and Great Recession a decade ago.
Through the first five months of 2021, 1,567 residential transactions worth a total of $554 million were reported. Compared to the same span in 2020, transactions rose 16.6 percent and dollar volume increased 39.9 percent.
Residential inventories remain low — at least by one measure. At the end of May, there were 216 active listings. That’s less than half the 555 listings at the end of May 2020.
Thompson said the inventory is actually larger, but homes sell quickly when they come on the market. “It’s not staying on the shelf.”
Growing demand driven in part by buyers moving into Mesa County and low supplies have pushed up prices, he said. The median price of residential transactions during the first five months of 2021 increased 18.1 percent to $320,000.
New construction has helped to meet demand. A total of 409 building permits for single family homes were issued in Mesa County through the first five months of 2021, up 46.6 percent from the same span a year ago.
Miller said she expects more existing homes to come on the market during what’s usually a busy summer reason. But builders face challenges in constructing new homes in rising material prices and labor shortages.
Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity remains nearly nonexistent. Miller said eight foreclosure filings and 12 foreclosure sales were reported through the first five months of 2021. The eight resales of foreclosed properties constituted only 2.3 percent of all transactions.