Mesa County real estate market rebounding

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Annette Miller
Robert Bray

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to show up in sales numbers for Mesa County real estate, executives say they’re encouraged nonetheless by what they see.

The overall number of transactions and dollar volume for June nearly matched the same month a year ago. The numbers for residential deals increased on a year-over-year basis.

“I was kind of impressed with that,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, said the lagging effects of a pandemic that slowed sales activity in March and April will be less pronounced when closings are reported in July and August.

Miller said 549 real estate transactions worth a total of $159 million were reported in Mesa County in June. That’s only five fewer transactions and $5 million less in dollar volume than was reported for the same month last year. June traditionally ranks among the busiest months of the year for real estate activity in Mesa County, she said.

Five large transactions worth a collective $10.1 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said, including the sale of the building that once housed the Safeway in the Redlands for $4.9 million. There were more large transactions in June 2019, though: seven worth a combined $19 million.

For the first half of 2020, 2,363 transactions worth a total of $716 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the first half of 2019, transactions dropped 7.8 percent and dollar volume fell 5.3 percent.

According to numbers tracked by Bray Real Estate, 393 residential transactions worth a total of nearly $118.3 million were reported in June. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 3.4 percent and dollar volume rose 9 percent.

Through the first half of 2020, 1,728 residential transactions worth a total of nearly $511.7 million were reported. Compared to the first half of 2019, transactions dropped 7 percent and dollar volume slipped 1 percent.

Bray said real estate closings constitute a lagging indicator of activity from four to six weeks or even longer beforehand. Consequently, the latest numbers reflect activity going back to April and March, when pandemic restrictions and stay-at-home orders were in full effect. Bray said he expects even stronger numbers for closings in July and August based on what he said has been increasing activity.

Lack of inventory remains a headwind, he said. At the end of June, there were 496 active residential listings in Mesa County, down 37.2 percent from the same time last year.

The pace of new construction continues to lag, Bray said. For the first half of 2020, 340 building permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County, down 6 percent from the first half of 2019. But the pace could pick up for the rest of the year and equal or even top last year, he added.

Low interest rates on mortgages remain a “hero” in promoting real estate activity, he said. Moreover, the pandemic has motivated more people to consider relocating from big cities to areas less affected by the outbreak — including the Grand Valley.

Miller said property foreclosure activity continues to decrease in Mesa County. Through the first half of 2020, 69 foreclosure filings and 19 sales were reported. Compared to the first half of 2019, filings decreased 31 percent and sales dropped nearly 69 percent. The 24 resales of foreclosed properties during the first half of 2020 constituted just 1 percent of all transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.