Mesa County real estate market: steady and healthier

Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

While the number of real estate transactions in Mesa County continues to lag behind last year, the combined dollar volume of those deals has kept pace.

Meanwhile, fewer sales of foreclosed properties reflects the return to more normal market conditions.

“It looks like we’re going to keep pace with last year with a slowly healthier market,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Ben Hill, a real estate broker who operates Hill & Homes in Grand Junction, said he’s closed fewer deals this year, but for more money. The foreclosed properties he’s handled, including those put on the market by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have dwindled. “It’s healthy thing for our community. It’s a good thing,” Hill said.

Omar Richardson, owner of United Country RealQuest Realty in Grand Junction, said there’s another sign of an improving market in increasing demand for the so-called “lifestyle” properties in which the firm specializes. “That, to me, is a bigger harbinger of good times.”

Miller said 353 real estate transactions worth a collective $79.8 million were reported in Mesa County during May. Compared to the same month last year, sales sagged 1.9 percent. But the dollar volume of those sales increased 10.2 percent.

Six large transactions worth a combined $9 million bolstered dollar volume for May 2014, Miller said.

Through the first five months of this year, 1,297 transactions worth a total of $273.9 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span last year, sales dropped 5.8 percent. Dollar volume edged down, but only a tenth of a percent.

While real estate activity lagged during the first quarter of 2014, activity so far during the second quarter has picked up with year-over-year increases in the number of sales among private parties, Miller said.

Meanwhile, the sale of foreclosed properties continues to drop. “That’s a good thing,” Miller said.

For May, 47 foreclosure filings and 34 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, filings dropped 35.6 percent and sales decreased 50 percent.

Through the first five months of this year, 240 foreclosure filings and 210 sales were reported. Compared to the same span last year, filings fell 23.6 percent and sales declined 31 percent.

The sale of 39 foreclosed properties in May constituted just 11 percent of all transactions, which Miller said was the lowest proportion since before the recession. She considers 10 percent or less indicative of a healthy market.

Hill said a more robust recovery in the real estate market still depends on job growth that remains stubbornly slow. But since Mesa County tends to lag behind economic trends in other areas of Colorado and the United State, improving conditions elsewhere should forecast improvement here, he added.

Richardson said several indicators point to an improving market, including the disappearance of inexpensive properties purchased by investors to repair and quickly resell as well as increased sales of commercial properties.

At the same time, demand has increased for country homes with acreage, hunting and fishing parcels, log cabins and ranches, Richardson said. People who had postponed such purchases in the aftermath of the recession are now pursing their dreams. 

RealQuest Realty long has ranked among the best-selling franchises for the United Country network of more than 500 offices. Richardson said three agents from the Grand Junction office recently earned awards as top producers nationally.