Mesa County real estate activity picks up

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Annette Miller

While overall real estate activity continues to pick up in Mesa County, low inventories hamper residential sales.

“The inventory is the big, big challenge,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

With low interest rates and persistent demand, activity in 2020 still could top 2019 despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

For August, 542 real estate transactions worth a collective $158 million were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same months last year, transactions rose 7.3 percent and dollar volume increased 6.8 percent. Five large transactions worth a total of $7.4 million were reported, including the sale of three residences for a combined $5 million.

Even with the gains, year to date real estate activity continues to lag. Through the first eight months of 2020, 3,509 transactions worth a total of more than
$1 billion were reported. Compared to the same span in 2019, transactions remained 3.1 percent lower and combined dollar volume 2.2 percent lower.

According to Bray Real Estate, 366 residential transactions worth a total of $126 million were reported in August. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 11.6 percent, while dollar volume increased 6.8 percent.

Through the first eight months of 2020, 2,551 residential transactions worth a combined $783 million were reported. Compared to the same span in 2019, transactions fell 3.6 percent, while dollar volume rose 4.7 percent.

At the end of August, there were 431 active residential listings in Mesa County — down 45.9 percent from a year ago. At the current pace of sales, that’s only about a month of supply, Bray said. “I’ve never seen it this low.”

Low supply coupled with high demand pushed the median sales price of a home to $305,000 in August, up 18.7 percent from a year ago. The median price for residential sales year to date was lower at $280,000, but still up 11.1 percent from a year ago.

New home construction continues to lag, Bray said, as contractors struggle with a lack of lots upon which to build as well as delays in materials. For August, 76 building permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County. That brought the total through the first eight months of 2020 to 495. Those numbers are essentially flat from a year ago.

The good news, Bray said, is that demand remains strong with a lot of prospective buyers.

Low interest rates on mortgages continue to drive real estate sales as well as refinancing activity, Miller said.

Looking ahead, Miller said she expects year-end numbers for real estate transactions and dollar volume in 2020 to match or exceed 2019. Low inventories could keep residential transactions lower, though, Bray said.

Meanwhile property foreclosure activity continues to slow. Through the first eight months of 2020, 77 foreclosure filings and 23 foreclosure sales were reported Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2019, filings fell 50 percent and sales dropped 70.9 percent. The 45 resales of foreclosed properties through the first eight months of 2020 constituted 1.2 percent of all transactions. That’s well below the 10 percent threshold she considers indicative of a healthy market.