Mesa County real estate market slows

Phil Castle
Business Times

Annette Miller

Real estate activity in Mesa County slowed further in August, dragging sales and dollar volume levels so far this year to below those of last year.

Given that the real estate market typically heats up in the summer and cools in the fall and winter, the prospects don’t appear good for a rebound anytime soon.

“I kind of see us staying this way for a little while longer,” said Annette Miller, who, as senior vice president at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, monitors the real estate market.

Miller said a 165 real estate transactions were reported in Mesa County in August, down 35 percent from the 254 transactions reported in the same month last year.

The combined dollar volume of real estate sales totaled $42 million in August. That’s down 28 percent from the $58.5 million in sales at this time last year.

Just one transaction over $1 million was reported in August, while three such deals were reported in the same month last year, Miller said.

Through eight months of 2010, 1,680 real estate transactions have been reported in Mesa County. That total constitutes a 4 percent decrease from the 1,753 transactions reported during the same span in 2009. The combined dollar volume of 2010 real estate sales in the county totaled $402 million through the end of August. That’s a decrease of 3 percent from the same period in 2009.

Miller said the growing number of foreclosed properties on the market continues to bring down home prices, yet sales remain slow.

Paul Brown, Mesa County Public Trustee, said 165 property foreclosure filings were reported in the county in August, while 76 foreclosure sales were reported. That compares to 116 filings and 26 sales in August 2009.

Miller said many people looking to take advantage of historically low interest rates and purchase homes have been held back because they’ve been unable to sell their existing homes.

While low interest rates have spurred activity in refinancing mortgages, more stringent lending standards have kept some applicants from qualifying. A total of 658 real estate secured loans were reported in Mesa County in August, down from 767 in the same month last year.