Phil Castle, The Business Times
Bill Wagner assesses the Mesa County real estate market in terms of his own business — and his business has been better over the past six months, he says, than the past six years.
Wagner, a broker who operates BW Fine Properties in Grand Junction and serves as chairman of the Grand Junction Area Realtors Association, suspects he’s not alone. “I think everyone has been busy.”
The latest numbers for real estate activity back him up with year-over-year gains in both the number of transactions and their collective dollar volume. The proportional gains are even bigger in comparing the first three quarters of 2015 to the same span last year.
“I think we are going to have a strong fall, which is a good way to end the year,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time observer of the local market.
Miller said 334 real estate transactions worth a combined $74 million were reported in Mesa County during September. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 6.4 percent and dollar volume rose 4.2 percent. Four transactions worth a total of $4.8 million bolstered dollar volume.
Through the first three quarters of 2015, 3,050 transactions worth a collective $737 million were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2014, transactions were up 11.9 percent and dollar volume was up 20.6 percent.
Wagner attributed the increasing real estate activity to a number of factors, including more retirees relocating to the Grand Valley from the Front Range and growing interest among investors in purchasing rental properties, but also more confidence in the local economy. Some people who’ve been waiting for the right conditions have decided to stop waiting and either buy or sell, Wagner added.
Miller said she expects 2015 will be a better year than 2014. If the current pace continues for another three months, 2015 will end with more than 4,000 transactions worth a total of nearly $983 million. Those levels would be the highest since 2008, although lower than what was at that time an even more robust market.
Miller said the proportional increase for dollar volume has outpaced that for transactions in part because of price appreciation, but also the number of large transactions that have occurred. Through the first three quarters of 2015, there were 31 transactions over $1 million each with a total value of $122 million. That dollar volume is nearly double the $65 million worth of large transactions reported for the same span in 2014. While some of the transactions have involved high-end homes, most have involved large commercial deals, she said.
While Wagner acknowledged he’s optimistic by nature, he said he expects increasing population and income to continue to buoy the real estate market in 2016.
Miller said she’s a little more cautious given concerns layoffs in the energy sector related to low oil and natural gas prices could affect the market. Many people who work in other areas of Colorado and other states, including North Dakota, still live in the Grand Valley, she said.
Moreover, 2016 will bring with it the uncertainty that goes with a presidential election, she said.
Meanwhile, though, Miller also remains encouraged by the overall downward trend in property foreclosure activity.
For September, 46 foreclosure filings and 29 foreclosures sales were reported in Mesa County Compared to the same month last year, filings edged up 2.2 percent, but sales slipped 3.3 percent. Through the first three quarters of 2015, 364 foreclosure filings and 230 foreclosure sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2014, filings dropped 10.1 percent and sales tumbled 31.1 percent.
Resales of foreclosed properties constituted just 7 percent of transactions during the first three quarters of 2015, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.