Mesa County real estate activity on the rise

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray anticipated increased real estate activity in Mesa County this year, but reality so far has exceeded his expectations.

“This year has proven better than I would have thought,” said Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Both the number of real estate transactions and their collective dollar volume continue to  outpace last year.

While some seasonal slowing could be coming, the latest numbers reflect a growing market, said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Miller said 443 transactions worth a total of $112 million were reported in Mesa County during July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 19.1 percent and dollar volume jumped 38.3 percent.

Miller said transactions have topped 400 for three consecutive months. Dollar volume was bolstered by six transactions worth more than $1 million each, she added, including the sale of the Acorn Travel Plaza and a parking area on U.S. Highway 6 for $2.72 million and the sale of the Ramada Inn on Horizon Drive for $2.3 million.  A residence and 70 acres on 36 Road sold for $1.58 million.

Through the first seven months of 2015, 2,380 transactions worth a combined $579 million were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2014, transactions rose 16.2 percent and dollar volume climbed 29.5 percent.

If that pace of sales activity continues, 2015 will end with 4,080 transactions worth a total of $992.6 million. Those levels would be the highest since 2008, although lower than that was at that time a more robust market.

Home prices continue to increase in Grand Junction, according to the latest results of a monthly analysis by a California-based firm.

CoreLogic reported that home prices rose 3.8 percent between June 2014 and June 2015. That figure includes such so-called distressed sales as foreclosure sales and short sales.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased on  year-over-year basis by 3.7 percent.

Bray described July as “really exceptional” with residential sales at his firm up 25 percent. Commercial sales continue to outpace last year, he said, although not by such a large margin.

Bray said he’s encouraged by local market trends because they reflect what he considers “organic growth” rather than a boom driven by the energy sector. While there’s potential for an increase in interest rates on mortgages, rates remain attractive. Meanwhile, confidence in the local economy has improved, he said.

Real estate activity typically slows heading into the fall and winter, but Bray and Miller both said they expect year-end numbers for 2015 to exceed 2014. “I think we’ll finish just fine,” Miller said.

Miller said she also remains encouraged by what’s generally been decreasing property foreclosure activity in Mesa County.

For July, 57 property foreclosure filings and 28 foreclosure sales were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, filings rose 39 percent, but sales dropped 15.2 percent.

Through the first seven months of 2015, 286 filings and 168 sales were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2014, filings retreated 14.9 percent and sales dropped 36.6 percent.

Resales of foreclosed property accounted for just 7.3 percent of all transactions during the first seven months of 2015, down from 12 percent for the same span in 2014 and indicative of what Miller considers a healthy real estate market.