Mesa County real estate market heating up

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity in Mesa County continues to heat up along with the spring weather with year-over-year increases in the number and dollar volume of transactions.

“The good spring selling season continues,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time observer of the local real estate market, said the latest numbers offer encouragement with increasing real estate activity and decreasing property foreclosure activity. “Everything that should be trending up is. And everything that should be trending down is,” Miller said.

Miller said 377 real estate transactions worth a combined $84 million were reported in Mesa County during April. Compared with the same month last year, transactions rose 27.8 percent and dollar volume jumped 37.7 percent.

“April really was busy,” Miller said.

Four real estate transactions worth a total of $10.4 million bolstered dollar volume for April 2015, Miller said, including two sales in Grand Junction: 32 acres near 24 and F 1/2 roads for $5.8 million and a warehouse at 637 Railroad Blvd. for $2.25 million.

The latest numbers bring year-to-date totals for Mesa County through April to 1,108 transactions worth a collective $241 million. Compared to the same span last year, transactions rose 17.4 percent and dollar volume climbed 24.2 percent, Miller said.

The differences are large in part because they’re compared to what was a slow first quarter in 2014. But the numbers also reflect what’s been increasing activity in 2015 Miller said she expects to continue. “The momentum is definitely being maintained.”

Miller said there’s been pent-up demand on the part of some buyers who’d been watching the market, but now feel more comfortable about making purchases.

Bray attributed increasing real estate activity to a number of factors, including good weather and low interest rates on mortgages.  Some buyers who encountered financial difficulties in the aftermath of the recession have improved their credit scores and have returned to the market to either get back into a home or move up to a better home, he said.

While housing inventory has increased on a year-over-year basis compared to 2014 and 2013, sales continue to outpaced supply, Bray said. “We’re selling the inventory quicker than it’s coming in.”

That’s resulted in something of a seller’s market for homes priced below $150,000, which often attract multiple offers, Bray said. Meanwhile, a shortage of homes on the lower end of the price spectrum has prompted more buyers consider homes at a higher price, in turn raising the median sales price, he added.

According to the latest numbers from CoreLogic for March, Grand Junction home prices have increased 9.1 percent over the past year. That gain takes into account such so-called distressed sales as foreclosure sales and short sales. Excluding distressed sales, home prices have increased 8.6 percent.

Overall, though, Bray said Mesa County remains a buyer’s market.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity in Mesa County continues to slow.

Miller said 39 foreclosure filings and 16 foreclosure sales were reported in April. Compared to the same month last year, filings declined 13.3 percent and sales tumbled 59 percent.

Through the first four months of 2015, 150 filings and 85 sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2014, filings decreased 22.3 percent and sales fell 51.7 percent.

Sales of foreclosed properties year to date represented 9.2 percent of overall transactions, below the 10 percent ratio Miller considers indicative of a normal market.

“It feels good,” she said.